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, August 01, 2013

it takes all sorts ...

They say it takes all sorts but sometimes I wonder!

The phone rang this evening, just before dinner. Railway call. New member.

'I'm a little surprised that I haven't received my membership card yet'.

'Okay, I'll check'.

I drew a blank.

We eventually worked out who he was. He'd sent Paypal payment using a generic name (Company Secretary). I'd immediately emailed him to ask his name so I could produce his membership card. TWO days ago!! As he hadn't emailed me back I couldn't produce the membership card anyway! It reminded me of the character in Fawlty Towers 'Well it's not good enough!!'

He then started criticising the website, informing me that it takes hours to load a single picture! Doesn't sound like our website at all. He then informed me that as well as being a businessman he was an engineer AND a webmaster.

This wasn't going well.

'And WHY are there FIVE different groups restoring the S&D. There should only be one'.

I tried to explain the issues of history, gauge differences and the long length of the line, and that I also would love to see just one group eventually.

'Well it isn't good enough! It should happen right away!'

'Oh, and have you asked the Bluebell to help with sourcing track?'

'No, we don't need any track, and we have a number of Network Rail employees who source track WHEN we need it'.

'Well, you should be in touch with the Bluebell Railway'.

'I can assure you that all the various Chairs etc have informal networks that involve other railways'.

'Hmmmm. Your real problem is that you don't have anyone organising you. You lack organisers'.

(Personally I reckon we do OK. Just look at the lovely organised station at MN pictured above, all done without the help of the Bluebell Railway!)

'And another thing. In France they have a thing, I don't know what it's called, where you can ride a bike thing along closed railways'.

'Yes, the SNCF is obliged to leave track and infrastructure in place for 20 years after closure. They are called velorails'.

'Oh, well we need those on the S&D'.

'We don't have any closed but in-situ line s in the UK, we have a different system.'

'Well, it's NOT good enough. Surely you could just lay a few miles of track, you'd make loads of money? You need organising'.

'But the S&D is just a trackbed, we are buying it a piece at a time. When we have a decent stretch we'll run trains, like they do at Midsomer Norton'.


'Well I'm buying a property very near to the Gartell Railway. It's a terrible line, no signposts and they only run once a month'.

'Yes, it's a private line. That's what they do, they are very good'.

'Hmmmm. Well, what are you doing to do about all this? I've written to all you groups and none of you have emailed me back and I can't find any contact details anywhere'.

'Well, you're talking to me. And I did email you right away when you sent Paypal payment, asking your name so I could make up your membership card'.

'Well, that's from my overseas address'.


'Yes'. (I should have asked Basingstoke, Westphalia? at this point).

'Well. You shouldn't be using Paypal. There are thousands of county court judgements against them. And NEVER give them your bank account details'. (But you PAID me using Paypal!)

'So what are you going to do about all this?'

'THIS!' I put the phone down and immediately refunded his payment, plus alerted the SDRHT and Gartell about him!


Matthew Salthouse said...

Poor Gartell, in my mind they are always underestimated, they have great volunteers, always a friendly face...

Sunshiner said...

I just hope he stays away from them - they don't deserve him. As you say a great little line!

RailWest said...

"He then started criticising the website, informing me that it takes hours to load a single picture..."

Err...he has a point, I get exactly the same problem AND it freezes the rest of my PC in the process. I've had to give up reading the blog, only came across this while following a link....very slowly......

Sunshiner said...

Has anybody else had issues with this? It may be that the running feed from the blog on the front page of the website causes the problem - I'll get David on to it and if the blog feed is the problem I suspect we'll have to remove it, perhaps replacing it with a simple link.

Matthew Salthouse said...

Mine's fine and our internet is terrible! So I don't know..

Apcol said...

The problem lies with the choice of search engine. Open the page on Internet Explorer and it takes an age to load. No problem if I use Chrome or Firefox.