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, May 27, 2016

S&D Telegraph 47


The magnificent S&D Telegraph has just arrived and, as always, it is brilliant and an absolute gold standard for other rail restoration groups to aim for! There's a lot about the 50th closure anniversary and I also pick up a real sense, via the editorial and other pieces in the magazine, that they now have the bit between their teeth and they have become a real railway with BIG ambitions.

When I started at Midsomer Norton back in 2004 there was a big board attached to the goods shed proclaiming that the scheme was a 'steam museum and short demonstration line'. That used to wind me up so much, I felt it was a real ambition and passion killer! A few years later it disappeared and the line rebranded itself the 'Mendip Main Line Project'. That was the turning point intellectually for the group, and I think the 50th Anniversary coupled with the fantastic progress on the new section of line have been the turning point in engineering terms. The S&D is a railway again, soon it will be a mile long at Midsomer Norton with the next steps beyond that clearly in their sights.

A similar process seems to be happening at Shillingstone, which just a few years ago branded itself as a 'museum of farming' with the railway an afterthought. I suspect a similar process will happen at both Midford and Spetisbury over the coming years, with track appearing fairly quickly and then the transformation to a railway following hot on its heels. Things are happening so fast along the S&D it's hard keeping track!

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