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, January 21, 2016

Huge step forward for the S&D


(All pics 20 & 21.1.2016 copyright Allen Pocock)

We are beginning to see things happening on the S&D that many of us thought would perhaps never happen - from the wonderful reconstructions at Midsomer Norton and Shillingstone, the return of signalboxes at both locations, Midford saved for ever for rail use, the wonderful (if low key) restoration at Spetisbury, the narrow gauge S&D experience at Gartell, the Sentinel at Midsomer Norton, more and more people pushing for the whole line restoration and, now, the arrival of TWO steam locomotives at Shillingstone!

Many years ago Midsomer Norton has a sign stating that the aim was to open a 'short demonstration steam line and museum' - I worked really hard to get rid of that sign and aim and was the prime mover behind rebranding that part of the line 'Mendip Main Line'. I've not had a lot of involvement at Shillingstone, but just a few years ago the slough of despond seemed to be pulling the strings there, with them at one time retreating to the aim of building a 'Farming Museum' with a static rail element. How times have changed!

The New S&D is also undergoing some changes with both Spetisbury and Midford setting up as separate organisations so they can focus and concentrate on getting those two sites up and running, the New S&D becoming a lobbying and oublicity group for the whole line (which is why this blog is sparking back to life, just a tiny part of that process) and Wessex Links Ltd as always operating as a land holding group for an expanding portfolio of stretches of line held for ever for future rail use.

2016 will be 50 years since the temporary and ridiculous closure of our line, and will be a real turning point for the S&D as all the groups expand and the rail presence on the S&D gets bigger and stronger in every way. When we look back to perhaps fix on the real turning point for the S&D I suspect the arival of two steam locos at Shillingstone will be right up there with the saving of the Midsomer Norton site and the purchase of Midford! These are great times to be an S&D fan! 

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