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!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

breakthrough at last

(Evercreech Junction 1980)

At last restoration of the S&D has hit the mainstream. John Sargeant mentioned reopening of the S&D on BBC1's prime time 'One Show' yesterday.

Ten years ago it wasn't even mentioned, except in the hidden but very forward thinking constitution of the SDRHT at Midsomer Norton. But the idea has built over time. Parts of the S&D are now restored, so the first step has been taken. I think very few of the volunteers at these sites don't harbour at least a  secret desire to see the whole line rebuilt! And with the founding of the New S&D and excellent member take up we really are now beginning to build the framework  for full restoration of the line. What was perhaps once a pipedream, except for a few visionaries at Midsomer Norton, is now just an everyday thing, no big deal at all.

It's no longer 'if' it will happen, but 'when'. That doesn't downplay all the hard work that lies ahead of us, but it will clearly get easier every day. By working with the tide of future history rather than against it, failure simply can't happen.

So John Sargeant's mention is just the first of many. Once the information offices are open at Midford and Spetisbury things will really start rolling!

Direct link here.

From my hearing it looks like he has information we don't - he definitely declared that Bath to Bournemouth will be reopened in the next few years!


Anonymous said...

24 minutes in for the actual reference to "Bath to Bournemouth", mentioned TWICE, so what info does John Sargeant have that we dont? A good piece, well done One Show. JW

Anna Metcalfe said...

Have we just found our new Publicity Officer, I wonder? ;)

Sunshiner said...

I suspect he's got it wrong, though I can't think which line he's confusing it with, unless it's the Ringwood loop, but that seems unlikely. The S&D IS a strategic route so it should be right up there with Lewes-Uckfield, Waverley and Okehampton to Tavistock/Bere Alston. Perhaps this is the start of that process?

Simon Ible said...

I think it is very likely true, the road links from Bournmouth/Poole up to Bristol/ Bath are poor and this is recognised in the Local Transport Plan for Dorset an aim is to "Improve Connectivity to Bristol and the North" , so it makes sense rather than build bigger roads to reinstate the railway!

With the government wanting to invest in infrastructure projects they must have at least considered it. "Transport is identified as a key component of the government's national Infrastructure Plan, which sets out the need for major infrastructure investment to underpin the UK's economic growth. The government is prioritising the maintenance and smarter use of assets, followed by targeted action to tackle network stress points and network development and, finally, delivering transformational, large scale projects that are part of a clear, long term strategy, consistent with the priorities in the White Paper." - national infrastructure plan

On this route there is a unique combination of factors (most of the line not built on, poor road connections, two key towns/cities not well linked) to make it viable

Anonymous said...

Didn't the lady he was talking to on the sofa mention it?

Knoxy said...

there appeared to be two parts of the S&D on that film? Evercreech level crossing and the single track bridge near Glastonbury?

watched the clip and would just like to add that Beeching really saved no money at all. Now we need the tracks back the whole episode cost us all very dearly....

Tom Antell said...

Its so frustrating that the word "mothball" never came into their vocabulary. Would of made our lives so much easier now. But we are now paying for their own Short-sightedness. Should of gone to specsavers the whole ruddy lot of them!

Knoxy said...

yeah, exactly, but they didn't want closed lines mothballed or someone else in the future might have done a better job running them?

Sunshiner said...

I think there were two main reasons why railways weren't mothballed. The first was that back in the 60s (and possibly right up to the 80s) there was this really weird idea that we wouldn't need the railways in the future! This seems really daft with hindsight considering how busy railways are now, but I think they really believed it back then - the Age of the Car and all that. How wrong they were! The second reason was that to retain a whole mothballed network would have cost a lot of money both directly in maintenance of infrastructure and in loss of revenue from selling land on, especially in city centres. A third less important point is that mothballed railways, rather than a patchwork of trackbeds and redevlopment, would have probably become a huge spindly network of vandalism, crime and danger. Really the easiest way to have prevented all this would have been to have kept the lines running! Beeching was totally, totally wrong. Apparently all the closures saved (in direct costs no doubt) was a miserable £140 million! For that 3000 miles of lines and 2000 stations were simply wiped out. And what was the REAL cost of this when congestion, road deaths, pollution and all those other 'externalities' are taken into account?? Billions upon billions.

Keith Browning said...

Politics !!

Brazil used to have a railway system - not great but they had railways which in a country that size, ought to be an essential form of transport, particularly for freight.

Along came Scania and Fiat and offered to build factories in the country. They wanted subsidies but they also wanted the railways closed down.

The government obliged. Only now is Brazil beginning to build railways again.

Railways are political when they ought to be just a convenient method of taking people and places from A to B.

The fight is on in the US and the presidential election might end up being fought over petrol prices. The Republicans want it cheap and they dont want new technology. Guess who owns the oil companies?

Sunshiner said...

Politics may now play a role - which is why railways are so much better privatized! Bad politicians close down railways on whims, people like Barbara Castle and Ernest Marples. So being free of political influence and being self-supporting is so important. The 'social need' aspect complicates things but social need will not be an issue post oil as rail will be the only serious transport game in town. But I still think we should keep aloof of politics and political money, because it's a double sided thing.

Every country, every business and every family needs to understand that access to a railway or railway system will be absolutely essential post oil.

I do think the end of oil will also be the end of bullshit, which can only be a good thing! Life will get slower, simpler and probably less scary, it might be a bit rougher and poorer but I'm sure we'll all cope very well - as long as we have a railway or tramway within walking distance!

Digging over past mistakes and past vested interests shouldn't waste a second of our time - all our energy should be directed at getting our railways back!

Tom said...

I have visited Brazil a couple of times and, of course, was interested in finding out about their railways.

As Keith says, they did close many of their lines, which seems crazy for a country of that size. However, an increasing amount of freight is now being transported by rail and more lines are being built, including a fast line between São Paulo and Rio.

At least, from what I saw, they did not rip up all of their closed lines and many of them were mothballed so can easily be reinstated.

With the Olympics and the World Cup coming there way during the next few years I am sure we can expect to see lots more lines being built or reinstated.