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, March 28, 2013

midford this easter sunday

Stuart and Tom Seale will be forming a working party this coming Sunday (31 March) at Midford to replace the broken concrete fenceposts alongside Tucking Mill Lane and also to tidy up the Station area before the opening up of the tunnels on Saturday 6 April. All welcome to come and join them from 10:15ish.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

southern stirrings

A line very close to my heart is the Shoreham to Christ's Hospital line which I saw whilst still open, being just a few miles from where I lived. With the other Horsham route to Guildford this formed a useful cross country route, both lines sadly closed in the 60s, the Shoreham-Christ's Hospital on the same day as the S&D.

There are now stirrings on this route and the beginnings of an ambitious (but perfectly viable) rail restoration, and one of the first steps is a site visit to Cranleigh.

Full details can be found here. If you live in the area it would help them enormously if you were to go along. I'm jealous!

Sunday, March 17, 2013

riding the zeitgeist

The best news this year so far is the Bluebell's reconnection to the Network. I once worked on this line and also regularly visited it when I lived in Sussex. It was always a very special place and the short Sheffield Park to Horsted Keynes section did have a charm of its own. But the world has changed a lot from the 1970s when the above shot was taken, and I think the line always realised that they needed to reconnect to the Network eventually. It's perhaps not even a concious decision, perhaps the emerging view of heritage lines as future community railways is something that is felt rather than thought, but this will totally transorm the Bluebell. Expect plenty of specials off the main line, lots of new visiting locos (steam and diesel) and a lot more TV and film work.

But most of all expect a growing demand for reconnection to Haywards Heath (please make it a preserved third rail electric route!) and then to Lewes. And once that is in the bloodstream thoughts about developing the route as a REAL line, with passengers and freight, will  begin. There's no need for the intermediate stations to lose any of their charm, but I reckon within ten to twenty years there will be trains from East Grinstead to Lewes, carrying ordinary fare-paying passengers, and who knows, a London-Brighton train eventually as well.

This is the way things are going, with heritage railways pre-empting the upheavals of Peak Oil and Climate Change and grabbing the business temporarily lost to the doomed car and lorry.

And remember the Imberhorne tip situation has a lot in common with what the SDRHT will soon face at Chilcompton. The little Bluebell has overcome it, the mighty S&D certainly should have nothing to fear!

Saturday, March 09, 2013

spetisbury tomorrow

Dear Member/ Volunteer,

 Fancy joining our work party and going up to the station on Sunday. I hope to be there between 10:00 and 11:00am.

 On Sundays agenda, I believe we still have a bit of clearing to do after our last visit. I also believe we may have to do some filling in, where holes have appeared in the foliage on the 'Down' platform.
There are other tasks, such as sorting through the brick rubble to find any 'specials', and put to one side.

... Would appreciate it if you could let me know if you can make it.

 Best regards,