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!

Monday, March 19, 2012

more roads ...

Excellent comment from Neil S that deserves to be more visible than tucked in the comments section!

As usual the comments here are beyond the normal range of conversation in the media.

The Government can see a major crisis on the way. Oil prices will cause many to give up driving. Tax take will therefore plummet. Not dissimilar in ways to the indecent haste to close down the railways in the 50s/60.

I am of the view we must prepare quickly for the approaching crisis. A restored S and D between, say, Midford and Midsomer Norton, with passenger and moreover goods facilities should soon pay its way. Liaison with other restoration projects for railways and canals will assist and leave out the road lobby in the main who have systematically brought Britain to the verge of gridlock with its corruption, greed and lack of foresight.

No new major roads means there will be a good demand in areas where railways were once seen. Southern Somerset is a prime example.


sebastian said...

I totally agree with Neal S's comment the linking up of the S & D Midsomer Norton with Midford, for passenger and freight, is an excellent suggestion, and the possible linking up with the canal network is inspired, as the revenue this would bring would then fund a further extending of the S & D. also the idea i read in an older article suggesting a link at Radstock with the old GWR line would also b good for this freight traffic.

Once again I find more good shots of the Midsomer Norton station and environs a truly well executed restoration, and shows how good the line is still capable of looking once the track and effort is put in.
also I like the idea of the old roads being turned into rail ways, I was a child at the time and can remember the adults talking about the destruction of these rail ways, and thinking how mad it was to close them, the tide is turning and these lines are finding support again, by the wider communities who after all will go to work on them and use the freight that is conveyed on them. At last some common sense.

That slumbering giant the S & D will be there to do this important work..

Neil S. said...

Thank you for your kind comments.

A reasonable scan of a map with some knowledge of industrial history gives a good insight into how the S and D can develop.

As for the railways, there is now clear evidence that single minded individuals like us here are sick and tired of the same old spiel about roads from vested interests. Portishead is looking good to go. Others of the old lines around Bristol are awakening, even the Wye Valley Line between Chepstow and Monmouth has been given a good amount of airing:


There is the Somerset Coal Canal which intersects with the S and D at Midford. The railway did take part of the Canal I believe. The Canal used to run as far as Timsbury. There must be the possible of an integrated link here. Just up the SCC is the Kennet and Avon Canal, restored from Bath to Reading. At Semington in Wilts, there is the Wilts and Berks Canal, an ambitious plan to restore that Canal through Swindon to Abingdon.

All these projects, if properly co-ordinated,can avoid the chaos and misery of Peak Oil. The S and D is the natural way to the South Coast from Bath. It will thrive directly and indirectly,

Sunshiner said...

What a depressing read that Wye Valley site is. Everything seems to be designed to put you off getting involved in any way. It's so defeatist and backwards looking. I hope it doesn't have a knock-on effect with people reading it and being put off rail reinstatement generally! 'If the cycleway's built they'll never reopen the route'. WTF????

With the New S&D we've always worked on the basis that the line WILL be reopened come what may, but we'd like to have a lot of input into the way the line will look. We also try to get people in the mindset where lines are going to be reopened all over the place (including the Wye Valley, where reopening is really a no-brainer) - but their website is a disgrace really. A shame because I LOVE that line and would get involved (at a run of the mill member level) but I suspect my reaction would be the same as most peoples that visit the website.

Oh dear ...

Neil S. said...

The attitude towards the Wye Valley Railway is a crying shame.
The use of negativity does none of our goals any good. It spreads like wildfire if not contained.

Interestingly, some of the line worked until 1981 from the quarry near Tintern, about 5/6 miles from the main Cardiff/Gloucester line. The area now needs a direct connection for commuters to Bristol and South Wales.

It is a complete opposite to the Dean Valley Railway, its sister line, where things are happening.

The S and D has a very positive outlook. Things are happening. Lines are being relaid. That is the proof in the pudding.

Sunshiner said...

I forced myself to read a little more and it seems it's all a little tongue-in-cheek and part of a larger 'slow life' type website so I suspect it's pretty much tainted with nostalgia and irony, but most of this will be lost on the casual visitor to the site.

Such a shame because the Wye Valley route needs a serious group to promote and rebuild it. I'm sure there will be takers out there. As a tourist route alone it has huge potential and we can't all see it by bike.

Don't they get that cycleways have only ever been a holding operation to keep the trackbeds intact?

All in all a strange tale and about as far removed from the New S&D as is possible.

sebastian said...

I have just been looking at the Wye Valley Railway web site and have to agree with Sunshiner's comment, very depressing read and a total contrast, to the positive can do approach the New S & D have.
I stumbled on the New S & D, middle of 2010, as I have always had an interest in the line as I went to school in Bath, in the 1970s and grew up with the story's of the waste of this line after the destruction of it. In contrast to the Y V R had as much of the line ripped up and viaducts destroyed, it was as if the rail way authorities were in fear of ghost trains running after closure. I digress, since I found the New S & D site, I have been impressed with the speed in which the restoration has taken hold, Midsomer Norton looks like the Ivo Peters Iconic photos of the 50s & 60s.
I have to say If the lines were still in situ quietly rusting in the long grass on the S & D formation, then the Pines Express would be heading for Bath this summer, and the New S & D would not be talking of demolishing structures and finding reasons as to why it won't work.
Well done to all who are actively making the S & D rise Phoenix like from the ashes, by reminding those who don't know about its past, that it is still there and having had a well earned rest is ready for the new century. I just wish that I lived nearer to it.

Neil S. said...

There are many fomrer railways which make for depressing reading. Such must change rapidly. Even as we write, Madame La Garde of the IMF has stated oil may rise by 20-30% if Iran kicks off: Peak Oil and resultant chaos are here-NOW.

There will be prevarication, vacillation and downright lies in denial in the next few years but the chaos is here to stay.

There is no time to lose in moving the S and D forward at the fastest possible pace. Relaying of lines must now be a priority and also the exploration of engines which do not depend on oil.

Also, the sourcing of rolling stock is a problem in my view. I travel a lot with my work in the UK and Ireland. I will be keeping an eye out for old goods vans in farmers' fields etc in fact for any kind of goods vehicle and carriages if only a chassis. There must be some worn but fine examples in the quieter parts of the UK. They need snapping up.

Well worth a day or two away from work for recovery and transport to S and D ground.