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, April 11, 2012

map 1

Laurence Everett has produced two excellent S&D maps, this is the first. Bear in mind that this will be produced in large sizes only so station names will be visible.

This shows all the lines we will reopen or build, and it's good to see how natural our routes look. Look at how straight the Bristol-Bournemouth run is for example. With the addition of the Bristol-Pensford-Chilcompton route, the Bailey Gate-Brockenhurst, the Wells-Masbury and Midford-Limpley Stoke lines in place we will have a wide variety of routes available - although the trains will be funnelled somewhat through the Bailey Gate-Evercreech Junction section, which will certainly need to be double track throughout! Wells and Glastonbury will have direct trains to Bristol and Bath with the building of a line from Wells to Masbury.

I'll upload a second map later which will be useable in a smaller size.


yamfaz said...

Maps are very powerful things, especially this one which is very well considered and gives residence of the area a lot to think about. It will also worry a lot of people who will be directly affected by the proposed routes. It is these people we need to reach out to and show how the requirement to buy their property will help them and their neighbours in the long run.

This map also shows the scale of the work that is ahead of us!

Every journey...

Sunshiner said...

We do fully understand that a few people will need to move if they have bought houses on the trackbed but in most cases they will have 10 or even 20 years before it becomes an issue. They would probably do best if they contacted us early and we began negotiations so they get the market price for their house rather than find a degree of blight over it as the railway begins to appear. We don't want to EVER use a CPO and I really don't think it will ever get to that point unless somebody is totally against selling.

The one thing to bear in mind is that NO property affected can be older than about 40 years, so we are not talking character properties here!

And you do have to question the mentality of anyone who buys a house, feigning ignorance, built on a MAIN line railway that will inevitably be rebuilt.

Anonymous said...

I like this, the way you wish to approach people who are currently in the way on the trackbed with houses that as you rightly stated are less than 40 years old. Done this way the S&D will not be antagonising local people (we need them all on our side)and those affected will not feel ripped off. Just some more food for thought for all of you out there who know the right thing must be done, go online and look t www.bilderberg org. and look on the index and you will find a large chunk about Marples and Beeching and the destruction of our railways and oil Barons. Maks interesting reading to say the least!

Sunshiner said...

I think house owners - and there are only a tiny amount of them - who will be affected need to understand that many local people will question why they purchased houses on a main line railway trackbed in the first place. In a few years, with petrol at around £5-£10 a litre very few of us will be able to afford to buy or run a car, and we'll nearly all be looking for our railway back.

In many ways these houses will already have a degree of blight because many people already understand that many railways, not just main lines like the S&D, are going to have to be rebuilt. I'd avoid a house on a railway trackbed like I'd avoid a house on a flood plain. As more and more become aware that the railway's coming back they'll find fewer and fewer people will be willing to buy a trackbed house at any price - in the end the New S&D will be the only buyer. This is simple economics. Of course we want to work with house owners on the route, with finance in place we'll buy the houses long before the trackbed effect really knocks their value down.

We owe it to those with trackbed houses to pay them the FULL market price as if the house was built in a normal location. As we get closer to the line reopening the price we will pay will be far above that of any other buyer. Solution all round, with no tears and no nastiness.

Nobody owning a trackbed house has yet contacted us, so this may be a bit of a red herring anyway.

Remember, this main line will reopen whatever happens, but I can't see a government funded or busimness-for-profit company, which is the alternative to us rebuilding the route, being anywhere near as empathetic to trackbed house owners wishes. We're the good guys remember! This is a community, not-for-profit organisation.

I'd also steer well clear of anything with the name 'Bilderberg' attached. This is a far left wing scam conspiracy theory thing, totally unreferenced, with no peer reviews and based on a very nasty agenda.

Keith Browning said...

The map arrived quickly - it is excellent. Produce a tourist version with some graphics to represent the history and geography of the route and you have a great sales item, from wall posters to calendars, tea towels, the list is endless.

It ought to be relatively simple to do a trackbed inventory and a pretty exact costing as to how much it will cost to eventually buy up all the properties.

Mark said...

From my appreciation of the task ahead, and lacking all the necessary details. the question of the missing formation and viaduct at Blandford Forum looms large. The presence of the supermarket (with massive financial strength) on that site could be a substantial impediment to reinstating the line there?

From a B2B negotiating point of view, however, a strong bargaining position could arise from pointing out that the maintained (ex-road transport) ease of supply (freight) and demand (passengers/customers) could be quite a potent argument?

Lots of good business challenges to be had ahead!

Knoxy said...

i wouldn't worry about a supermarket on the trackbed. they may have massive financial strength now, but that should erode on the back of the price of oil. most of their product, even locally sourced, spends hours being transported around the country to centralised distribution centres before going out to the stores. will that remain viable? i doubt it? the place to be will be back in the high street and close to the railway station and near their customers.

Sunshiner said...

I think supermarkets will struggle on for a few years yet though I suspect they're already being drawn into a vicious-vituous circle of decline with increasing fuel costs coupled with a social responsibility to keep cutting margins to keep us all fed.

After oil I'm sure town centres will regain most of their previous vitality (though part of me hopes the Internet survives!) with the station as the centre of it all, tramways and industrial lines reaching out to the edges of town and a range of shops, eating places, pubs, markets and meeting places, coupled with housing, keeping the centre buzzing. It's quite possible that some supermarket buildings will survive where viable and also serve as a big market for people to buy, sell and exchange food, plants, seeds, hand tools etc.

One thing's for sure - what they are now is not what they'll be in the future. The dinosaurs think nothing will change whereas future thinkers suspect everything will!

Freddie said...

Hopefully, supermarkets will be good customers for the railways. When Tesco found it was becoming increasingly uneconomic to truck goods up to the north of Scotland, Eddie Stobart bought a train so that he could get the contract to deliver them. As time goes on, it won't just be Inverness this applies to, and much more supermarket goods will travel by rail.

Sunshiner said...

Eddie Stobart has got his head screwed on and knows the way the transport market is going. Nobody is seriously suggesting that roads will be used for much freight transport once the oil's gone. I don't think they've even made a concept electric artic yet, and I doubt they ever will!

The supermarket business model is unlikely to survive Peak Oil anyway because of the complexity of its transport needs. The rail infrastructure would need to be in pl;ace to ensure the supermarket business model can survive - direct rail connections to supermarkets would be a start, both for freight and to bring in their customers - I can't see many of them owning cars in say ten years time form example.

It will be interesting to see how much current infrastructure will survive Peak Oil. Air travel has no chance, road transport is extremely unlikely to survive as it will be hit by both falling use and increasing decrepitude, a process that's already starting even though fuel is still very cheap.

As for places of work, they will all need to be rail connected to survive, the ones that already are of course have a huge advantage. But difficulties in sourcing energy and raw materials is going to make it difficult for many businesses to survive, unless they've reduced their demands for these well in advance, which for many will be impossible. Hence a huge growth in home manufacture, craft products etc

Agriculture willneed to switch to organic farming (fertilizers are OIL based!!) and far more use of animal power.

As all this happens our needs will change. We'll all be growing a lot of our own food, repairing rather than replacing etc, so what we'll need to buy will change. Again it's likely that local people trading from home or small units will be providing what we''ll need, sourcing everything locally, I can't see a role for supermarkets in this, though their actual buildings may be useful for people to meet and trade. The old car parks could easily be transformed into food or wood growing areas, another attraction for people.

WhatHouse.co.uk said...

very unfortunate for those people that have a house along the trackbed. I imagine this would have shown up on a search prior to buying and then it was their decision to buy. Not much comfort for them now but was always a possibility, even if a small one.

Sunshiner said...

I think there was always a strong chance that the line would reopen and I really would be very surprised if house buyers didn't have this at the back of their minds. Certainly nobody could now claim that they were unaware that the line is likely to be rebuilt. This was a main line after all, and will serve several large towns that aren't currently served by rail - many of these did have alternative lines serving them back in the 50s and 60s, so had to share the traffic to some extent.

We have always said that we will work with trackbed home owners to ensure that they are fully compensated - and more - when we take their houses over. We have looked at plansd where we pay market price + say 20% for their properties, or buy now at the market price and then allow them to remain on a peppercorn rent in the house until the railway is rebuilt. They are in quite an enviable position in some ways. The poor fools that have bought on floodplains for example will have no such offers available to them.

We really don't want to EVER use CPOs, but of course will where a homeowner is completely recalcitrant, but I don't think this will happen in the real world. If they have any sense they will move ASAP before everyone is aware of the return of the line, which may only be a few years away now (awareness, not return!)

I think this is why the New S&D, as a community venture, is so much better for homeowners than if a fully government-sponsored rebuilding happens - which is the ONLY other option on the table - it's unlikely that they will work closely with trackbed house owners but simply offer market value backed by a CPO.