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!

Friday, April 19, 2013

blandford 150

Blandford by night - dripping with atmosphere!

Nigel Jones, who owns the Railway Hotel at Blandford, hopes to celebrate the 150th anniversary of completion of the line between Blandford and Templecombe, on 31 August 2013.

He hopes that the road between the hotel and railway can be closed and stalls etc set up along the road to celebrate. What he really needs is a photo or photos of the station AND the hotel in the same picture.

If you have any relevant photos you are happy to share with this event please contact me by email at leysiner@aol.com and I'll see they get to Nigel. Any photos of the station and surrounding area are welcome, they don't need to fit the very strict critieria above!

Also looking for any members/supporters who are happy to run an information stall on the day!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

midford facebook group


Are you a member of the Midford Facebook group yet? It's the best place for news and pictures etc as it's a very dynamic site and there's always something going on!

I shall be going up there the week after next to do a radio interview with our new Press and Publicity Officer - and looking forward to seeing if the Two Tunnels link has increased footfall, or should it be wheelfall? I may even risk bringing the bike and cycling through the tunnels!

midford this sunday

There will be a working party this Sunday, 21 April at Midford to wire up our fence along Tucking Mill Lane and then to clear some small trees on the embankment below a neighbour's property, which has been causing him a nuisance. From about 10:15am. All welcome to join them!

Sunday, April 07, 2013

one step closer ...

Bath's Two Tunnels Greenway cycle path opens

The Two Tunnels Greenway
Almost 2,000 people attended the opening of the path

Related Stories

A £4m cycle and walking path with the longest cycling tunnel in Britain has opened with a mass cycle ride.

The Two Tunnels Greenway route opens up two former railway tunnels nearly 50 years after they closed.

Almost 2,000 people attended the mass cycle to mark the opening of the route which runs from Bath to Midford.

The path goes through Linear Park, on through the disused Devonshire and Combe Down railway tunnels, and over the Tucking Mill Viaduct.

At over a mile long, the Combe Down tunnel will be the longest cycling tunnel in Britain and will feature an interactive light and sound installation.

One million users

The Two Tunnels Group - a team of 11 cycling, walking and railway enthusiasts - first kicked off the plan to reopen the tunnels for public use seven years ago.

Frank Tompson, chair of the group, has worked with cycling charity Sustrans - who built the route - and Bath and North East Somerset Council to create the path.

"It's been a long journey since some of us stood between the bricked-up Devonshire and Combe Down tunnels and said, 'wouldn't it be a good idea if…'," he said.

"I am really pleased that we are finally in a position to open the route to the public and estimates suggest that up to a million people might use the path each year."

The Two Tunnels Greenway route
The tunnels have low level LED lighting

The project is part of Sustrans five-year project to extend the National Cycle Network into the heart of communities.

One of the first cyclists through the tunnel was Bath schoolboy Jamie Gant.

"It feels like I've gone back to the past but there are modern lights and modern stuff and there is no track. It was kind of a bit cold," he said.

Also trying out the new path was Winter Olympic gold medallist Amy Williams MBE who unveiled a portrait bench of herself, WWI veteran Harry Patch and a Roman solider.

Williams, from Bath, said: "This is so exciting for Bath and the community, there are so many people here.

"It is only going to encourage more people to get on their bikes and go out for walks and after the London Olympics ."

A few years ago I walked through the long tunnel and it was quite an experience. Next time I go up to Midford I'll take the bike and cycle through. Although this section of line doesn't feature in the New S&D's first tranche of reopenings - we'd prefer to go via Limpley Stoke to access the Network - in the longer term protection of the route can only be good for the railway. This should also make the visitor centre and shop at Midford much busier once it is open.

Saturday, April 06, 2013

spetisbury sunday

Dear Member/ Volunteer, There is a work party up at the station on Sunday. I hope to be there from 10:00am onwards. Hopefully, I would have had a meeting with the rangers up at the station on Friday, and from that I will have a better idea on what we are going to be doing during the summer months.
Car parking. This was discussed last time, and has not changed. Would appreciate it if you could let me know if you can make it.
Best regards,

Friday, April 05, 2013

shifting paradigms ...

A whole raft of facts and figures have emerged recently re our failing love affair with the car. A majority of teenagers - even in the US - now do not drive. But a really interesting set of figures on fuel sales in the UK have recently been released. If anyone doubts that the age of the car is coming to an end I think these will change your mind!
2007 forecourt sales 22.87 billion litres petrol
2011 forecourt sales 18.27 billion litres petrol
2012 forecourt sales 17.42 billion litres petrol
2007 forecourt sales 14.8 billion litres diesel
2012 forecourt sales 16.73 billion litres diesel
2007 forecourt sales 37.67 billion litres all fuel
2012 forecourt sales 34.16 billion litres all fuel
Taking total fuels the AA reports that this fall is the equivalent of 35 days forecourt sales, or just under a 10% drop.
I suspect these figures tell us a number of things. That we're in recession of course, but also that people are giving up driving completely, driving less or driving more fuel efficient vehicles. This is of course screamingly obvious, but it also reflects something far deeper - that the years of constantly increasing fuel use are over. It is starting to contract. Of course at the same time fuel use on the roads is diminishing, rail travel is booming. And I can't see this ever changing now.