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 02, 2012


(Evercreech New, 1960s)

Perfect timing is essential to the great New S&D project. We would have looked stupid if we'd stated that we aimed to rebuild the whole line within 5 years. That's never going to happen. We have to carefully judge what is needed and what will be successful at each point in our temporal journey towards restoring the whole line. At the moment the two small revival projects at Shillingstone and Midsomer Norton, together with the narrow gauge line at Gartell and restoration of Midford are just right for 2012. They are enough to declare that the S&D is returning but not a step too far, for now.

Over the next ten years we can expect all three locations with track to expand somewhat, and be operating regular heritage trains. Who knows, by then one or some of them may even be operating genuine services for passengers or freight? We can expect a few more locations where the New S&D is restoring infrastructure and quite possibly running genuine trains.

The big thrust will probably come within ten to twenty years, when the S&D lines start to unify and when 99% of the population can not afford to run cars any more. The roads themselves will crumble through underuse and lack of investment. Governments will be rushing to put in railways and tramways everywhere to keep the economy going and to put a lid on social unrest. The hope is that by then we are considered a serious player in rail restoration and we can rebuild the S&D that we want to see, not some bland network route - because that is the only alternative.

So perhaps the picture at the top of this piece was perfect for its time? With the world awash with cheap oil, economic growth still a reality and with most people owning, or aspiring to own, a car, perhaps our railways did need a bit of a rest, if only for a few decades. It was closed, decaying railways that got me interested in railways in the first place - we'll never see their like again!


Anonymous said...

Enjoy the decaying railways while you can! in the last few years in Scotland we've seen the reopening of the Airdrie-Bathgate and Stirling-Alloa-Kincardine railway and within a few years the Waverley Route to Galashiels will be springing back into action.

Sunshiner said...

Scotland has always been more civilized - and many years ahead of - England!

Eddystone said...

Perhaps we can enjoy decaying motorways instead-albeit a different kind of enjoyment!

Eddystone said...

No wonder they want to leave!