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!
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!
The last train arriving for passengers at Fishguard and Goodwick station’s platform was more than 48 years ago.
However, commuters wanting to travel from the North Pembrokeshire railway station won’t face such lengthy delays after the facility was reopened today for the first time since 1964.
Once a bustling hub for both traders and passengers - the station became a victim of the Beeching cuts and was closed by British Railways, when services were withdrawn.
Its revival follows a long campaign by a passenger group which says the existing Fishguard station at the ferry terminal was too far outside the town.
It comes after a £1.4m -a-year rail service to Fishguard was launched last September in a move aimed at boosting the area’s tourism and economy.
The five extra daily services between Fishguard and Carmarthen were in addition to the two services connecting with the ferries to Ireland.
The latest project has seen around £325,000 spent on rebuilding and updating the old station, which will now benefit from the extra trains, running Monday to Saturday.
The North Pembrokeshire Transport Forum (NPTF), which campaigned for a better station and improved services, said parking at the old station was also too expensive.
Secretary Hatti Woakes said the reopening was great news for the area.
“This is such wonderful news for the people of Pembrokeshire, it is something we have worked so hard for since the forum began.
“Goodwick has the potential to be a hub for so many things but the only thing missing was a decent train service.”
She said the forum was involved in the preparation of the new timetables.
“We tried to organise them so that people can travel when they want to.
“We’re now getting people commuting to Carmarthen, which we have never had before. These train services were really the missing link for Pembrokeshire.”
Tourism and business leaders have welcomed the service and facility, which they say is a major development in public service improvement for North Pembrokeshire.
Councillor Jamie Adams, who is also a member of SWWITCH (the South West Wales Integrated Transport Consortium), said improvements to rail services west of Swansea were not only a priority for Pembrokeshire but for the South West region as a whole.
“The re-opening of the station is a positive step for the communities of Fishguard and Goodwick and will help attract passengers to the new enhanced rail services,” he said.
Jeremy Martineau of Fishguard and Goodwick Chamber of Trade and Tourism said businesses were bound to benefit from the redevelopment.
“There is no doubt the people of Goodwick, and more widely across West Wales, will benefit from this, not only for their personal transport connections but in terms of attracting tourists.
“This reconnects us to tourists in an even more visible and more environmentally responsible way. It is tempting for people from abroad and across the boarder to see us as very remote but this is an important signal that says ‘we are here, we are accessible, it is a wonderful area , so come and visit.’”
Local photographer and historian Johnny Morris said the station, once a thriving hub of trade, deserved a revival.
“The station was once a busy hub of activity with trucks of coal heading out from there with at least three merchants operating.
“There was also, more surprisingly, a great deal of rabbit being traded via the station. During the Second World War, there were three agents who were sending hampers of about 40 rabbits each every day to places like Coventry, London Birmingham . The rabbits of West Wales kept the people of the English cities fed with quality protein during the war years. My grandfather was being paid 15 shillings a week from catching rabbits and that was a profitable sideline for many people. This really was a thriving and busy station and at one point carried around 200 people working at the Royal Navy Armaments Depot at nearby Trecwn.
“To see the station reopen is incredibly important for the area.”
Ben Davies, Stakeholder Liaison Manager for Arriva Trains Wales said:
“This area will see a real benefit from the additional service this will allow us to provide, which will no doubt have a positive impact on the local economy."