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!

Thursday, April 12, 2012


The maps of the New S&D are now available as downloadable PDF files via the website here.

They can also be accessed directly here and here - I'll add these to the blog sidebar as well.

I expect that these will become a very iconic and popular sight in the coming years as they appear at the increasing number of New S&D sites and stations.


Keith Browning said...

Absolutely super stuff. it now makes a lot more sense.

Also by-pass Bath and head straight to Bristol..!!

When this blog began I suggested putting down mile-posts. Cheap, easy and quite motivating.. I think. It also begins to show 'ownership' of the route again.

Again well done to the map-maker.

Sunshiner said...

I think the milepost thing is a great idea, but can only see it happening on land we own or lease for now. And even then you couldn't be sure that Compulsory Purchase Boy wouldn't come along and rip 'em out, so deep is his hatred for the S&D and all of us that work on it!

(Although he has been quiet for over a week now, so we may finally be rid of him!)

Anonymous said...

Why not join the ESR near Shepton?

Sunshiner said...

We'd have to balance increased costs over increased flexibility. If the Cheddar Valley line was to reopen throughout I could see the point but I'm not quite sure what services would be viable over such a connection, except perhaps as a diversionary route.

There were plans to connect with the GW main line at Cole when the original line was running, but I think this was a wartime thing.

However many commentators compare Peak Oil with being on a wartime footing, so it may be that these chords and connections may spring up all over the place to ease capacity restraints and increase flexibility.

We were trying to balance keeping the map simple and readable with the amount of information needed. Nothing's set in stone of course.

Knoxy said...

except the base of the mileposts.

base in concrete, a few feet down and they'll be there forever

Sunshiner said...

Not quite sure why we'd need to go to a park and ride unless it connected with trams into Bath - it would be a bit of a waste of resources to connect with cars as they really aren't going to be around for much longer. Certainly linking with the AVR and restoring the line back to both BGP and Mangotsfield would be much more forward looking. Capacity limits will soon cause problems if there is only one line between Bath and Bristol in the future, that's for sure!

Unfortunately we're probably stuck with park and rides for a few more years whilst fuel is still outrageously cheap, but they do use up an awful amount of land!

Freddie said...

Last year, I saw an article in New Civil Engineer (sorry, I don't remember the date as it was some else's copy I was reading) which said that many transport planners regard park-and-rides as a thing of the past as patronage of them was already falling in a number of towns.

As to the connection with GWR at Cole, a look at the old maps on the Somerset Archives Website shows the formation there in the 1880s, although with no track. Perhaps it was an original feature?

Anonymous said...

Why's the Wells- Masbury cut-through so wiggly?

Sunshiner said...

It's only a representative route for the map, nothing has been surveyed. However the terrain is quite hilly so the eventual route may well be every bit as wiggly!

Anonymous said...

To Freddie,the Somerset Central was expected to join the GWR at Cole back in the 18980,s hence the earthworks.
No rails etc were actually laid and this potential junction never occurred.

Bunny said...

Agreed - the motivation for suggesting the P&R sites is to provide a revenue stream for a fledgling S&D, by providing a service to motorists who would be willing to pay for a metro style service along S&D routes into Bristol and Bath, rather than fight through the ring road and A4 traffic. You can always turn the P&R back into fields later, and grow biofuel for the S&D!

Sunshiner said...

Biofuel is a total red herring and requires more energy input than you'll ever get out - which is why you never hear about it any more! But the land could certainly be economically used to grow food or wood of course, both of which we'll have good use for at the New S&D!

My real problem with this is that it will be a long time before we can realistically consider extensions such as this which aren't yet in our plans. Possibly 30 years yet, and I really don't think there will be private cars by then. But a tram interchange or even a dedicated electric bus (probably a trolleybus) with its own self-financed road into Bath may well be a probability. But these are very speculative ideas - there's always a place for them but first and foremost we need to get the basic route back.

Once this is done, and with the end of the private car, I can see numerous extensions, narrow gauge, tramway, trolleybus, industrial etc linking with the main line. This is the railway future that we can look forward to as long as we plan ahead and make the change from oil gradually!

Anonymous said...

Nice work, but beware the apparent simplicity of maps. A quick check on Google Earth shows the average gradient from Wells to Masbury would be 1 in 30 - which would make the Mendip mainline look like it was laid across the Somerset Levels. Such a line would not be economical to operate.

Sunshiner said...

That depends. Many Swiss narrow gauge electric lines are happy on a gradient of up to 1 in 14. I've done the Bernina line with an electric motor car, a coach and a couple of fully laden timber wagons - oh, and through twenty feet of snow! The ruling gradient there is 1 in 14. I believe a tramway in Austria was able to manage a gradient of 1 in 7 without assistance.

The only economic effect of steep gradients is the need to operate short trains but if there were also other routes from Wells (and Glastonbury) less time sensitive but larger trains could go via the original Highbridge branch connecting there and at Evercreech Junction for onward travel to Bristol etc - I'm thinking mainly freight here. A lightweight electric train with perhaps 2 or 3 coaches would hardly even notice 1 in 30. Gradients can also be flattened out by looping the track for example. Or tunnels could be built to reduce the maximum height above sea level.