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!

Friday, March 09, 2012

and a bit more ....

I had another enquiry about the New S&D which meant that I needed to explain concisely what we were doing - and came up with this -

At present we own Midford near Bath which has been cleared ready for rebuilding later this year. We own about 400 metres of trackbed as well here.
We are also about to take on Spetisbury in Dorset (on a lease) and clearance work will commence there very shortly. This site will also include about 400 metres of trackbed.
Both stations will be restored to 1950s condition and will then serve as information offices for the whole route and will also each have a shop.
The next step after that is to secure a site where we can set up a Sustainable Transport Facility, which will have both standard and narrow gauge running lines.
Spetisbury may well have track laid with the next step being extension to Charlton Marshall. There’s plenty of opportunities for hands on work at Midford and soon at Spetisbury.
Beyond that the plan is to restore the Bath to Bournemouth route together with the line to Wimborne and beyond, also connect Wells and Glastonbury, probably along the original branch from Evercreech Junction. It’s important to stress that this is a long term project and assumes that road traffic will fall substantially or completely over the next 20-50 years as Peak Oil hits hard and alternatives fail to be economic or scalable. Freight will be as important as passenger traffic. It is assumed that small viable sections will be restored, not the whole route in one go! The only heritage aspect of this plan (which is enshrined in our constitution) will be that infrastructure will be restored to heyday condition to encourage steam specials off the Network, and also of course encouragement of the existing heritage groups on the line, which we work with closely. We would operate steam trains (modern new builds) only if this was economic compared to electric traction. We do not even consider diesel as the fuel will simply no longer be economically available within a decade or so, and we don’t want to lumber ourselves with unuseable and unsaleable ‘assets’!
We are also charged with obtaining trackbed and other infrastructure as and when it becomes available and a separate fund exists for this.

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