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, September 13, 2012

bath green park

Just found on Facebook is a page just for Bath Green Park. It would be nice if all S&D stations had a Facebook group as it will be a way of gradually building up a network of interested people joining the great S&D revival via their local station. Facebook group for this iconic (and surviving!) station here.


sebastian said...

when I was last in Bath I saw a planning application that will see the redevelopment of the green park area including the old Victoria engineering works and gas works sites. the track bed from the old station throat to the river Avon with only the Green Park Station and one of the old bridges surviving, this development is of a hideous modernist design and density, that will do no favours to the city of Bath and to be honest I was surprised to see it proposed there, it may be an idea to organise an online petition on this blog as any development on this scale will eliminate any future return to this station by any train.

Sunshiner said...

But we have time on our side. At the moment I suspect 90% of Bath residents wouldn't even get why we exist, and certainly aren't prepared in any way for the future. You're right of course - this would be a mad scheme. As well as S&D trains a future Green Park will also see trains via Bitton to Bristol and Gloucester - only a lunatic would suggest that the existing GWR route could conceivably cope with future traffic levels - something will need to be done. Probably our best policy is to continue as we are - getting more and more people understanding what future transport needs will be, and getting on with getting that infrastructure in place. It'll be a shame if the project goes ahead because it will simply complicate things when the railway needs to return. There would need to be demolition but I suspect that grandfather rights coupled with the huge demand for rail travel in the future will make that process straightforward. I don't worry at all about these projects because they are really being built to serve the 20th century, not the 21st. Trains will definitely return to Bath Green Park no matter what temporary 'developments' are foisted on the city!

sebastian said...

You are right, of corse. But the size and scale of this development is that of a small town high density, multi story apartments shops bars and the topography of this sight is to be lowered down to one metre above the water, which in its self is madness personified. you are right that the people of Bath would not get us now but if there is any objections to the development then maybe we could sign, that's all we could do, until we are able, to return there I only thought that the New S&D be made aware of this. many thanks for your quick reply to this though

Sunshiner said...

This is one of those situations where ideally the New S&D would have a dedicated officer who could do all the work to make this happen. We do rather spread ourselves thinly! We do of course have the letter from the Ministry of Transport which strongly suggests that NO further (non railway) development should occur on the S&D trackbed [we must assume this includes BGP!] But realistically we are still a small force and we would be up against the web of construction businesses, estate agents, councillors etc who are still mired in the past, and a letter from the MoT would be ignored or, at best, looked down on as outside interference. If anyone would like to launch themselves into this the New S&D would give them our full support!! (Simply email leysiner@aol.com) At the very least our continued existence coupled with a much publicised intention to return trains to BGP would blight the financial prospects of anyone buying these properties! I have already had one phone call from a solicitor re this development who I think was going to recommend that their client look elsewhere for a new home on the strength of what I said!

RailWest said...

I think Sebastian is a bit late - the multi-storey blocks are already there and occupied, and the river bank wall has been lowered adjacent to the Victoria Bridge (part of a flood compensation scheme apparently). As for 'grandfather rights', I don't see how they can apply on a trackbed which has been totally obliterated and built over.

Sunshiner said...

The Bath question is always going to be a difficult one. Ideally any city or large town should have just one main station, plus commuter type stations in the suburbs. But Bath Spa is in a cramped position with just two platforms. It may be that in the future systems could be in place that allowed trains to run on one or two minute headways which would introduce many new paths, but the problem is that with increasing useage there is more scope for delays etc. The other problem is that a train ideally needs 3-4 minutes if busy to load and unload passengers. So perhaps the solution is a new Bath station in a new location with many more platforms. Perhaps with all above in mind rebuilding BGP IS the solution? I think you perhaps also approach things the wrong way - it's not the existence of houses etc on the trackbed (the so-called 'trackbed trespassers') but the need for new rail capacity which will be the deciding issue. The houses etc will have to be demolished and considered a 'misallocation of resources' from the perspective of permanently reducing energy supplies. From this perspective any trackbed encroachment is not an issue, and will be dealt with in the same way the 20th century lot dealt with the construction of new roads or airports - simply by CPOs and demolition. Even if we can reduce overall transport demand (a good thing for energy use) it's pretty certain that rail's share of what remains will be much greater than its share today (which has already doubled since privatization). BGP is simply a tiny part of a much bigger situation. I also suspect that Sainsbury's will become a primary advocate for the restoration of BGP for trains! They will need to get produce and customers in somehow and they can't expect everybody to arrive on foot or by bike!

Sunshiner said...

Of course another option which would leave the development intact (if it indeed has a role in the 21st century) would be a new station IN TUNNEL. There are far smaller cities and towns than Bath in Switzerland (Locarno, Nyon for example) where this has already been done. The costs would be high but it would do the job. These are really questions for ten or even twenty years' time, but the issue of rail capacity in Bath on a greatly increased network will have to be addressed at some point. A surface line to BGP would have been an easier solution and in the context of 21st (rather than 20th) century needs a more logical one, and it may be that the money issue forces this option anyway. Certainly if I lived in one of these properties I would assume that at some time in the future it would probably be at the very least inconvenienced by underground construction or, more likely, be demolished to make way for above ground facilities. This eventuality will eventually, if not already, be priced into the property values.

Sunshiner said...

And how about this for an elegant solution? Using the existing BGP frontage as the above ground element of an underground complex? I think the point to remember at all times if you feel a section of the S&D is not viable is to look at ALL the possible options which include tunneling, building viaducts, using abandoned roads or street running. Nothing is going to stop the rebuilding of the S&D.

Laurence said...

I believe that there is a disused bay platform at Bath Spa railway station. Could this be used in the future for new s&d trains? Here is a link to some pictures of the station and some of them show the bay platform in use and out of use.


Laurence said...

Here is another link to the Bath Western Riverside construction page. There are a few images which show new buildings already on the trackbed and also show the rest of the new development. It appears that there will be quite a lot of building on the trackbed.