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!

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

more doubling ... yet more trains

Our roving committee member Lee Fletcher sent me a piece on the Loughor Viaduct a few months ago which estimated that the cost of building this structure was in the region of fifteen million pounds only. This puts the cost of restoring/rebuilding bridges and viaducts on the S&D into perspective and suggests that rebuilding of the route will not be as expensive as first thought.

This new viaduct is part of the redoubling of a route in south Wales, more info has just come in.

A £40m plan to significantly improve the rail infrastructure between Swansea and Gowerton was unveiled yesterday as Network Rail submitted its proposal to Carmarthenshire Council.
Backed by the Welsh Government and the South West Wales Integrated Transport Consortium (SWWITCH), this improvement will meet a key rail strategy to improve performance, connectivity and cater to a rising passenger demand in West Wales.
It is forecast that passengers in West Wales could rise by 20% by the end of the decade.
Jointly funded by Network Rail and the Welsh Government, the scheme combines two core programmes of work – the replacement of the Loughor viaduct and the installation of an additional six-mile track between Cockett West Junction and Duffryn West Junction.
In addition, the disused eastbound platform at Gowerton station will be reinstated to cater for the new track.
Mark Langman, route managing director for Network Rail Wales, said yesterday:
“Today’s announcement of our plan is another affirmation of Network Rail’s commitment to growing the railway in Wales.
“This scheme has come about by a shared vision with the Welsh Government and SWWITCH, and the recognition that investment in rail infrastructure is good for the economy and will help support and nurture Welsh economic growth.
“We hope that local authorities, passengers and the local community share our vision of the long term benefits and support us during the construction works to deliver the scheme successfully.
“The scheme promises to bring huge social economic benefits in south west Wales by improving capacity and connectivity to key employment centres such as Swansea, Llanelli, Carmarthen, Fishguard and Milford Haven.
“There will be an improved passenger experience with shorter journey times and better connections that will also encourage modal shift, potentially removing around 300,000 trips from road to rail and improving the green credentials of rail.”
Key benefits of the scheme include:
  • A new structure at Loughor and that is strong enough to support two tracks.
  • Better performance on the railway as the additional new track will allow trains to continue to run when one of the lines is shut or congested.
  • Provide more capacity on the railway to potentially enable two more trains to run between Swansea and Llanelli and one more train to run between Swansea and Carmarthen per hour.
  • A bigger, accessible and secure Gowerton station with two platforms, a new DDA compliant footbridge with ramps, real-time customer information system, CCTVs and better lighting.
  • Modernised signalling infrastructure and enhanced crossing equipment at Duffryn to improve infrastructure reliability and safety.
  • Stronger bridges at Traffle Mill, Gypsy Cross and Rhosog.
Subject to planning approval and listed building consent, Network Rail is proposing to keep the existing natural stone abutments and some of the Grade II listed trestles and erect a small section of the old Loughor viaduct on the West shore as part of its conservation efforts.
In addition, Network Rail will be seeking approval from Environment Agency Wales, Countryside Council for Wales, WG Marine Consent Team to help protect the environment at the Loughor Estuary and Carmarthen Bay area. An environmental impact assessment has also been carried out.
Work will also be planned carefully to minimise disruption to passengers by carrying out majority of the work without having to close the railway.

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