Welcome to the 'New Somerset and Dorset Railway'

The original Somerset and Dorset Railway closed very controversially in 1966. It is time that decision, made in a very different world, was reversed. We now have many councillors, MPs, businesses and individuals living along the line supporting us. Even the Ministry of Transport supports our general aim. The New S&D was formed in 2009 with the aim of rebuilding as much of the route as possible, at the very least the main line from Bath (Britain's only World Heritage City) to Bournemouth (our premier seaside resort); as well as the branches to Wells, Glastonbury and Wimborne. We will achieve this through a mix of lobbying, trackbed purchase and restoration of sections of the route as they become economically viable. With Climate Change, road congestion, capacity constraints on the railways and now Peak Oil firmly on the agenda we are pushing against an open door. We already own Midford just south of Bath, and are restoring Spetisbury under license from DCC, but this is just the start. There are other established groups restoring stations and line at Midsomer Norton and Shillingstone, and the fabulous narrow gauge line near Templevcombe, the Gartell Railway.

There are now FIVE sites being actively restored on the S&D and this blog will follow what goes on at all of them!
Midford - Midsomer Norton - Gartell - Shillingstone - Spetisbury

Our Aim:

Our aim is to use a mix of lobbying, strategic track-bed purchase, fundraising and encouragement and support of groups already preserving sections of the route, as well as working with local and national government, local people, countryside groups and railway enthusiasts (of all types!) To restore sections of the route as they become viable.
Whilst the New S&D will primarily be a modern passenger and freight railway offering state of the art trains and services, we will also restore the infrastructure to the highest standards and encourage steam working and steam specials over all sections of the route, as well as work very closely with existing heritage lines established on the route.

This blog contains my personal views. Anything said here does not necessarily represent the aims or views of any of the groups currently restoring, preserving or operating trains over the Somerset and Dorset Railway!

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

avoiding project drift

It should sometimes be restated - the New S&D is committed to restoring the WHOLE S&D, not just Bournemouth to Bath but also the branches, plus the Bristol-Pensford-Radstock and Bailey Gate-Wimborne-Ringwood lines, plus the Ringwood to Brockenhurst line if not already restored by the Network when we reach Ringwood.

This doesn't mean that a few hundred mainly railway enthusiasts are going to raise the 1-2 billion pounds needed to restore these routes, rebuild the infrastructure and provide the locos and rolling stock. It doesn't mean that some time in the next five to ten years we will be running trains to all these destinations.

What it does mean is that constitutionally we exist to promote the S&D in its entirety, will encourage and support other groups restoring sections of the route (as at Shillingstone, Midsomer Norton and Gartell), will purchase sections of trackbed etc as they become available to protect them for railway use in perpetuity, and operate sections of the route as they become economocally viable. Full reinstatement may well be by the network, by a consortium of businesses or by emergency government decree. Or we may be so sharp that we manage to do this by ourselves by raising the money on the stock exchange and/or through local and regional share issues.

Whilst discussion about restoring tiny sections for narrow gauge etc are welcome we need to avoid project drift. We need to always state what we are about, and always keep our eyes on the bigger picture.

Whilst I doubt anyone would question the need for and viability of the Midsomer Norton/Shepton to Bath and Blandford-Poole sections we need to remember that the S&D is a network, not two branches, and that we'll have far greater flexibility (and profitability) as a through route with additional connections to the Network wherever we pass by it ie at Templecombe, Bruton etc.

Whilst local passenger and freight traffic will be the lifeblood of the route we also expect that much traffic will originate and/or terminate away from our metals. This is pretty much the same situation as the old S&D but of course the New S&D will, eventually, be far busier than the Old S&D was, even on summer Saturdays in the 1950s.


Anonymous said...

I agree wholeheartedly.Don't be diverted by well meaning enthusiasm for seeing steam in service as soon as possible.

Eddystone said...

Quite so-steam is always a good talking point but is a secondary thought to establishing a sustainable service by whatever means.