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, February 20, 2014

each a glimpse ...

(18.2.2009 Copyright Steve Sainsbury/Rail Thing)

Back in February 2009, just before the launch of the New S&D, I took a trip down the middle section of the line and took loads of pictures. Oddly enough the one out of the hundreds I took that really captured the essence of the S&D, to me, is the one above. This is the low embankment just south of Stourpaine and Dursweston Halt. The mistiness gives it that eerie timeless effect, and because that embankment could (or couldn't) have rails in place you can almost imagine a train suddenly appearing!

Hopefully it won't be too many years before the line is up and running again at this point!

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

branch line news

(Both pics February 2014 copyright Martin Tier)

I had an email yesterday from Martin Tier who noticed that Bason Bridge platform has recently been cleared, and he kindly sent the photos above. 

He quickly found the New S&D online and asked if we are behind this. Sadly I had to say no, so any information on what's going on down there would be most welcome. It may of course just be some locals tidying up their area. It's looking good though.

So far nobody within the New S&D has offered to make something happen on any of the branches. One of the ways the New S&D works is to encourage local initiatives and help publicise and finance them. This is how Spetisbury started of course! 

So if anyone is interested in starting something on any of the branches please let us know (simply email me on leysiner@aol.com) and we can get the ball rolling.

Bason Bridge of course was the last S&D station to be used by trains, closing in 1975. From the pics it looks in good condition still. Perhaps it is time to get something going down that way!

Monday, February 17, 2014

masbury stirring again ...

The original Masbury Appeal was time-limited simply because that was the original offer and aim - to raise £500,000 in three months in a window of opportunity whilst the station was kept off the market.

We did raise £80,000 which was magnificent and equated to around £7,500 a week! This gave us the leverage to request a joint working arrangement with the prospective new owner, who I and several others met in the meeting coach at Midsomer Norton in the autumn.

Sadly this promising buyer dropped out, and the whole scheme has been in limbo since. Now the station is not only on the market but the price has been dropped by £100,000!

So we have a second bite at this! I have been corresponding with John Baxter at Midsomer Norton about this and we've basically agreed that a rather different approach needs to be made to move this along. The first decision was to appoint one person to oversee the whole process. The second is to drop the time limitation and to set it up like a normal appeal ie it will run until we've secured the site, either wholly or by a written agreement with the owner. So the money raised will cover purchase of the whole site or, again, give leverage to secure land ownership and/or running rights to allow us to operate, eventually, a train service to a reopened station at Masbury.

The game is back on! More news very soon.

Anyone who would like to help with this stand alone project please email me on leysiner@aol.com giving me your ideas!