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, April 13, 2012

take care when commenting

I've always had a policy of no personal attacks both in articles and comments. I've just had two comments, the second one in particular which made some valid (but easily answerable and previously answered) points, but couldn't post them as they both contained personal attacks on a previous poster.

I've no idea why anyone would resort to this, we are all working towards the same thing.

I am unable to edit comments so if a comment does include a personal (or indeed general) attack or insult it HAS to be rejected. You are wasting your  time if you send a comment but also feel the need to attack a person, people or an organisation, the comment will not be seen by anybody.

It is also a courtesy to at least use a nickname or first name when posting comments, so other posters get to know you. Whilst I will of course permit anomynous posts (not all of us have Google identities) I think that what we are doing is so important and historic that we really should ALL identify ourselves when commenting, even if just for the historical record!


sebastian said...

It really annoys me when people attack those, who give up time and money to get this New S&D back so valiantly from it's slumber. Since I found the New S&D website two years ago. I have genuinely been impressed with the can do approach this organisation has. There is always something new going on and people joining, like the map being designed or the heritage legal man.

Like the dedicated Midsomer Norton group, who have brought back a station, from an abandoned shadow of its former self. To A Real Gem of a place, that looks better than it did in the iconic Ivo Peeters photos, I especially like the main line feel of double track with the trailing points into the goods yard, along with the restored typical narrow platform end between the running and goods line, All good genuine S&D stuff, similar to that at Blandford Forum. Well Done Guy's.

Then That enterprising team at Shillingstone. A place that is well on its way to a perfect restoration, with the same attention to detail that is becoming the New S&D way, as indeed it was on the old S&D.

Not forgetting the Midford gang who are on the brink of reinstating the station buildings, no doubt with the same New S&D high standard.

As if this was not enough Dean's Spetisbury task force who are on the brink of preparatory works on their sight.

I contrast these endeavours with my visit to a sad and derelict trackbed that I found in the mid to late 90s, as like others tried to find the remains of. The old S&D

The fresh approach to the restoration is nothing less than inspired, a good mix of heritage and through workings of local and long distance freight, and similar passenger services. using modern rolling stock. Please don't get me wrong I am in the steam camp, I can hardly wait the sight of a Pines Express, double headed by a couple of Bullied Pacific's complete with a proper rake of coaching stock. Thrashing up one of the numerous steep inclines, or impressive viaducts in the Stour Valley. But that aside I would equally relish the sight of a mighty diesel hauled freight train on route to the north, as that will be proof of a wider economic use of the line.

Using the line for what it was built for is the key to success and prosperity of the New S&D.

So when Idiots slag off this venture or attack members or projects and certain narrow gauge railways I think Why. When it is for these people we do this, as when they need to commute or order online goods its this New S&D that will play a part in this. Also if they joined in they would learn real skills for work.

I would like to wish this magnificent venture well, there is now no doubt that this railway will return with its mix of old and new, even new linking routes, and experimental engineering works looking into new technology's. This s the Future I know. But you all have showed that it can and will be done.

So keep up the Excellent Work. and show those idiots that it will happen despite them.

Anonymous said...

Just another item to help with the common aim, Is the S&D aware that Network rail is intending to ultimately work their network from 14 regional control centres? I reckon this will be the end of the remaining mechanical signalling equipment so maybe we need to be proactive and grab what equipment we can whenever possible. It can always be stored undercover until required for the future extensions. There are still locations in Sussex and Kent using Southern Railway rail built signals and these were used on the S&D at places like Shillingstone

Neil S. said...

I am well versed in vigorous and rigorous debate and expect no and give no quarter but I will not tolerate personal insults: contructive criticism is always welcome: no-one is perfect. All should learn from mistakes but there are some who go the further and bring it into the personal realm-dangerous, especially if you are dealing with officialdom: old habits die hard and come out at times of stress. There is also the Law of Defamation which would probably break the average person in costs if they lose. Also, all are entitled to their opinion, provided it is respectful of others.

Basic decency and good manners.

The New S and D will have to bear the above in mind: we must get on with our like-minded friends in Midsomer Norton and Shillingstone.

There will be vigorous debate when the lines link up, dealing with councils, landowners but this must not detract from the very laudable goal in correcting the complete and absolute mess of the legacy of Beeching: the lines should not have been taken up for 10 years as a precautionary measure in view of the rapidly increasing use of motor vehicles in the 1950s/60s.

Poor England and poor South Wales are choc a bloc with motor vehicles. The area is one of the most populated areas in Europe if not the World. More roads will solve nothing as the last 53 years-since the M1 was available-have shown. Crude Oil stocks are diminishing. The other technologies are not showing their original promise. Anyone of average MENSA level can surely see that action and debate must occur NOW if we are to keep pace with developments economically and environmentally.

sebastian said...

with regard to S.R Signals, the Fawley Totton line have a good Set of Lattice post Bracket signals and some Tyler Tablet machines add to that a good brace of Saxby & Farmer Lever frames. at both Hythe and the box at Fawley. along with all the usual Box Equipment brass repeaters bells etc, am not sure if there are block instruments. and if it is bagged for other heritage lines when they modernise the line. But I would say get in now and see if we could reserve them. also there is a good example of a traditional gated double track level crossing. all in excellent order. and in a local area so very like equipment used on S&D.

Sunshiner said...

This of course is one for Midsomer Norton or Shillingstone ... although I do think that by the time the New S&D is running throughout mechanical signalling will almost certainly be used because, of course, it doesn't use any energy! Mechanical signalling has excellent resilience, whereas electrical/electronic signalling will be very prone to blackouts, difficulty in finding replacement parts etc.

sebastian said...

I agree and would like to add more flexible than computer systems, even the most modern, as the signalman being a human. can make more decisions. the new systems may be cost efficient as far as staffing. but and to a point quicker operationally but at the cost of flexibility, look a the recent rush hour delays. and while on that point. no copper involved or put another way not much to steal. apart from all that and I don't know why, more appealing to look at.

Sunshiner said...

It does seem to me that most 'modern' innovations, rail or otherwise, degrade what has gone on before. Can anyone argue that a modern car for example will ever have the appeal of a classic 50s or 60s design? We are going in the wrong direction. Almost every 'modern' innovation requires more energy to make and/or use, uses materials that are non-sustainable ie plastic, rather than wood and are no longer on a human scale - why can't we create a world where everything is aesthetically pleasing to the eye, is renewable and uses sustainable materials? It's the world we're going to have to create.

Railway infrastructure has been in decline since the 50s. Think of a steam loco - aesthetically pleasing, can be repaired/renewed and uses material that could be endlessly recycled. And, if burning wood, uses endlessly renewable energy. Of course this will be the way forwards. We can convert some of that energy into a cleaner form, ie electricity, but I suspect steam locos, corridor coaches, mechanical signalling and manned stations are all on their way back. This is not nostalgia at all (you all know my views on that!) but practical, economics-based, solutions to 21st century problems that are beginning to loom large.

sebastian said...

Along with that and I totally agree with what sunshiner has said. Its the only way we can get back to something like full employment, we do seem to be going back, the Tornado Project, has shown that there still are new recruits to the Steam cause. There are still groups who care and come up with new ways of arresting the decline that sunshiner so eloquently put. Just look at the work that has been going on at Midsomer Norton and Shillingstone, and will at the other iconic stations on this famous old line. you would not be able to restore a modern structure that had been abandoned and unloved for nearly 50 yrs, I live in Southampton so have experience of decaying "modern" buildings, the term modern is a bit of a laugh. it was about 1904. that the boxy concrete design started there hideous appearance. Even in the macro of that stile the early examples are superior in design. and the thirty's southern railway streamlined structures have a charm. It all seemed to go into decline at the time post 1950. with the closing of the old lines and with them the way of life those who worked loyally for them knew. The only positive to come out of that mess was the preservationists. To whom we all owe a debt of gratitude. and when in the future we do indeed go forward with a return to the older ways of doing things with the pride that our forefathers did. this will be a true progress. "built to last" The New S&D. is doing such a vital job and long may it do so.

Anonymous said...

Many structures on the s&d were shoddely built,prestliegh viaduct being one of them. The viaduct in shepton mallet is also a cause for concern as it has been repairedd many time and even collapsed on construction. Today it's not fit to carry trains but has been preserved as a monument.

Sunshiner said...

Didn't part of Shepton Viaduct collapse in the war? If so it probably means the repairs weren't to the highest standards.

The important point is that running trains over these structures, and repairing/maintaining them for the use they were built for, is the best way to ensure that the highest degree of maintainence takes place, preserving them safely well into the future.

sebastian said...

I am sure it was reinforced to carry the extra weight of the munitions trains, and while would need some work. I believe, that it and the other major structures would be able to carry trains. ye there would be costs involved but a hec of alot cheaper than the building of a new one, that no doubt would be the concrete types that network rail use. something that I feel the neighbours would not be that keen to look at. as a point of interest the S&D.J.R. did use the concrete core method. in most of the viaducts on the main Bath Bournemouth route. then covered with stone or Staff Blue/Southwarter, Bricks. then of course there are the famous Stour Viaducts that were good examples of the Iron and brick piers design.

Sunshiner said...

I'm sure everyone will agree that the S&D sat wonderfully into the landscape through which it ran. Even where a new build like Prestleigh is built it will be built to last, to fit in with the environment and actually enhance the whole area through aesthetics.

That old world of hideous buildings, utilitarian and ugly bridges and cheap materials will have no part to play in the S&D.