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 just about to restore Spetisbury under license from DCC, but this is just the start. Why not join us today?
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!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

The Midford Appeal.

MIDFORD STATION REBUILDING



We’ve reached that special time in the history of the New S&D when we can begin to rebuild our first station! At the last AGM it was decided that the appeal to raise the money needed to rebuild the iconic station at Midford would be launched in March 2014.

We expect to need somewhere in the region of £40,000. Remember we already own the station so the funds are for the materials etc to rebuild the station buildings, put in services, signage, cosmetic signals etc. The completed station will then become an information point for the rebuilding of the line and will also become a visitor centre. Hopefully there will also be some office/storage space as well!

Donations of any size are welcomed. You can donate using Paypal (to SDRHTSales@aol.com) or by cheque (payable to ‘New Somerset and Dorset Railway’ sent to New S&D (Midford Appeal), 10 Bellamy Avenue, Hartcliffe, BRISTOL, BS13 0HW.

Remember volunteers are always welcome to help with the current clearing and maintenance of the site – for info please email leysiner@aol.com

This is a very exciting time to be involved with the restoration of this iconic station and line!
Please remember we can also take donations in the form of used stamps or coins (please see website http://www.somersetanddorsetrailway.co.uk/fundraising/ for more information).


EVERY PENNY HELPS!

Friday, March 07, 2014

a big step



This is a really important development. The railway at Midsomer Norton has been under construction for over twenty years. Whilst some local businesses have benefitted from contracted out work there (a great thing) this is the first time the railway have been able to offer paid employment, and that's a fantastic thing. As the line develops more and more paid work will fall to the local community.

I was involved in the early days at the catering coach and it was my favourite work at the line (apart from bonfires of course!) It was a really fun job and an excellent way of raising funds for the line. We learned a lot of new skills and I still possess the food handling hygiene certificate - the railway put all of us through it free of charge. Perhaps I should apply?

Seriously though if you live locally and would like to get involved and earn a bit of money please consider applying, or if there is anyone you know who would be great for the job let them know about it.

Thursday, March 06, 2014

infamy



It's that time of year again! It's now 48 years to the day since the S&D closed (and 5 years to the day since the New S&D was formed).

If only ...

But I tend to look forwards rather than backwards. Speculation on what the S&D would be like now if it had been rationalised and dieselised (clue, look at the Castle Cary to Dorchester route) or even purchased entirely for £50,000 (if that rumour is true) are a waste of time and energy.

Back in the real world we have what we have, and that's a lot. Five points on the line being restored. The classic iconic station of Midsomer Norton South fully restored with the signalbox and greenhouse recreated and over half a mile of DOUBLE TRACK running line in place. Shillingstone going great guns and not far behind Midsomer Norton despite a late start, the very special Gartell Railway extending northwards and offering a fantastic experience for young and old, Midford arising from the ashes (and the Midford Appeal being launched TODAY!) and Spetisbury also being cleared with rebuilding of the station not too far off. Not to mention Masbury still teasing s along the way ...

And all against a background of increasing climate change effects (some of the worst not too far from our branch to Burnham), energy issues becoming harsher each day and elsewhere in the UK closed lines coming back from the dead as more and more people realise rail is the future.

In 5, 10, 20 years' time who knows how much bigger and busier the S&D will be? As always if you are an S&D fan please get involved in some way or another with the rebirth of this fabulous line. either by joining the New S&D, the heritage groups at Midsomer Norton and/or Shillingstone, volunteering for the Gartell or joining Railfuture or one of the other transport campaigning groups. There's no longer any excuse not to! 

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!

Monday, January 13, 2014

latest from MN



Latest update

With Henbury now departed, we're down to one working diesel loco, D1120, which needs some attention before it can be used on trains again. The 08, D4095 is away in Gloucestershire until next month.
We are under notice with the railway inspectorate and needing to make improvements before we're cleared to run trains again, nothing too major, but to do with training and operational methods mostly, so updating is needed before we'll be running trains again this year. 

The GW Toad brake van is now in the goods shed and is stripped down to chassis and frames, awaiting replanking and refurbishing. There is a new hut on the trackside which will shelter the ground frame for the engineer's siding, something you'll only see for now if you're a working volunteer on the track, or walk along the adjacent footpath. 

The road-railer is out of action, requiring a new 'pin' in the hydraulic arm, only after which will it be fit for work again. Plenty to do then! 

By the way - is anyone out there a decent electrician who would like to volunteer their services, or know someone who would? Alan Price at Midsomer Norton would love to hear if you do - the TCL DMU coach - now messroom and meeting room - desperately needs wiring. There's a news story and link under the volunteering heading at http://www.sdjr.co.uk In fact we'd love to hear from anyone who feels they should be making a new year's resolution to come and give a hand!


Thanks and Happy New Year!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Early Christmas present


Winging its way to all New S&D members worldwide is our latest magazine, Right Lines. Most of you will also be receiving a form for the three year reduced membership offer, plus a standing order form, so you can still take advantage of the old membership rate until 31st December this year, after which the new rate will be the only one available.

I have been sending a few of these out at a time so you may already have your copy! However it was clear I needed to blitz the backlog, so I've just sacrificed a whole day to get the rest of them out! These will hopefully get posted tonight!

If you have been considering joining the New S&D the next seven weeks is the time to do so as we are holding our membership price to just £5 per year (hopelessly uneconomic nowadays with insurance at two sites, the mortgage on Midford plus production costs of 2 annual printed magazines!) until 31st December, after that the basic membership fee rises to £15 per year. Life membership has been held at just £250, an absolute bargain, especially for our younger followers! It also helps admin enormously this end!

So why not treat yourself or a friend to a membership this Christmas?

Saturday, October 19, 2013

AGM


This time last week I was on my way to chair the New S&D AGM, down at Hurn near Bournemouth. We always alternate AGMs from one end of the line to the other, to make it easier for members to attend at least every two years.

The location was excellent, the old Hurn station, which has an industrial loco and old carriage as an extension to the pub, now the Avon Causeway Hotel.

The meeting went very well with almost 10% of the paid up members present.

The three main issues raised were all passed unanimously.

The first was the need to raise membership fees. Membership fees were originally set way back in 2009 when the New S&D was really just an idea. You didn't get a lot for membership, just the occasional A4 home printed newsletter! Now we have insurances to pay on both sites, the mortgage payment on Midford and two printed magazines a year. The original membership fee of £5 was nowhere near enough to cover this, so general funds were subsidising membership. We worked out that with the current membership level we would need a charge of around £15 to cover these basics, but of course we were also aware that this is a 200% increase. However the average rail restoration group charges around £15 so in a way our members have been getting a bargain for a while now!

To ease the transition to the new rate the meeting decided the following -

Date of the change will be 1 January 2014.

Existing members will be given the one off option of buying a THREE YEAR membership at the new rate ie £15 for three years (£5 per year).

The junior and family rates will also rise at the same rate, with the same three year concession for existing members. Life membership will remain the same.

Members paying by standing order will get an additional 10% reduction.

All members will be receiving a 3 year membership option form plus a standing order form with the new edition of Right Lines and these will be sent out over the next 1-3 weeks.

The second major decision was to apply for charity status for the New S&D. This matter has been brought up regularly at previous meetings but the meeting agreed that now was definitely the time to proceed with this. A team consisting of Anna-Jayne Metcalfe, Ken Vater and Geoff Newman aew auctioning this. We are seeking members to become trustees if interested!

The final major decision was that the MIDFORD APPEAL will be launched in early 2014. The basic aim will to be raise the money to rebuild the station building and oil store. A rough estimate of £30,000 was suggested, this figure will harden up once we've done proper estimates of the costs involved. This will give Midford and the New S&D a much higher profile, give us a proper office (and address!), a sales point and an information point covering the history of the station and line plus comprehensive details of the whole line restoration. It should also convince people that this restoration, the third, will be the one that succeeds! We have felt for some time that there has been a credibility problem at Midford because of the two previous restoration attempts, despite those being just small projects for Midford alone, rather than as part of a much larger project. I'm sure that a fully restored station building with the facilities listed above will finally lay that ghost to rest!

All in all the meeting was great fun (and I hate meetings) and I feel that we have now stepped up a league with a proper membership fee structure, charity status and our first real base on the line soon to be a reality.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

vision


Sometimes it's difficult even for those of us intimately involved with the reopening of the S&D to REALLY picture what the future holds. And then sometimes something comes along to make it all clearer!

The above picture is one of those things. Painted by Steve Hiscocks, a member down at Shillingstone, it shows a possible future for the station once the line is rebuilt throughout. Ignore the diesel traction, that is unlikely to be seen, at least running under New S&D colours, though this could be a possibility with other train operators running some trains over our route. What I particularly like is the way that the restored Shillingstone fits in so well with the trains, that the heritage aspect doesn't jar and, perhaps more importantly for many of us, the modern trains don't either.

It's poignant as well. Of course the S&D is returning as this scene shows, or something very similar will, all the way down from Bath and Bristol to Poole and Brockenhurst. But why oh why has the area been deprived of this for the last 47 years? The S&D is a main line of huge importance and value, it's closure was laughable, a ridiculous mistake that the whole area has paid for since then. When the window of opportunity arises we will do a very thorough study of the shameful and pointless closure of the line, and the truth will finally be out.

So keep this image in your mind as you do the work up and down the line that will ease its return!

Copies of this picture, as an artist signed print, are available from Shillingstone - orders need to be in by 10th November 2013 to guarantee a signed print. Please send orders to Alan Wiseman, Platform Magazine Dept SHP, Wayside, Plush, DORCHESTER, Dorset, DT2 7RN - please make cheques payable to 'NDRHT', cost is £20 to include post and packing - all profits will be used to further the work at Shillingstone. Prints will be despatched at the end of November.

midford on thursday

 
Midford int he rain - looking good!


 
Looking towards Wellow - and car access on site at last!

 
H&S!

 
Mick getting ready ...

 
Posing with chainsaw

 
The rain at its heaviest!



 
 
Reward - butchers sausages cooked on the still smouldering embers from Tuesday!
 
 
A REALLY good day at Midford last Thursday, tree clearing again. Mick Knox was down from Milton Keynes with his chain saw, local boy Tom also brought his!

It was rainy and quite gloomy when we arrived but within a couple of hours enough trees had come down to let the light in.

Our neighbour Pat also turned up and we discussed the remedial work on the concrete facing of the embankment that abuts his house down below us.

Stuart, lacking a chainsaw of his own, cooked some sausages for the chainsaw boys!

To me this is always the best part of rail restoration, the hands on stuff out in the open. Meetings and office work leave me cold, even though that takes about 95% of my New S&D time.

There's a real buzz all along the route now, with Masbury very close, new local groups forming in Shepton Mallet, Evercreech and Whitchurch, Shillingstone going great guns and a real feeling that the whole route is stirring at last.

We are now planning to launch the Midford Appeal in 2014, with the aim of raising the funds to rebuild the station and oil store, which will transform the site.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

New S&D 2013 AGM


NEW SOMERSET AND DORSET RAILWAY
2013 ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING
 
This year's AGM will be at Avon Causeway at Hurn, Hurn, Christchurch, Dorset, BH23 6AS on Saturday 12 October 2013, 14.00-16.00 with the room booked to 17.00. ALL paid up members are invited to attend.
 

Food/drink available on site.

Please let us know if you are coming as we need to give the venue an attendance figure in advance. Please either email to leysiner@aol.com, telephone 0117 3738973 or write to New S&D, 10 Bellamy Avenue, Hartcliffe, BRISTOL, BS13 0HW quoting your name and membership number.
 

Apologies for the late notice - this was intended to go out with the latest RIGHT LINES, but there has been a delay in the production of the magazine which will not now appear until around the date of the AGM!
 
 

Friday, September 13, 2013

shepton by pass


(Courtesy SDRHT via Telegraph 30)
 
 
One of the issues that often comes up is along the lines of 'what will you do where there are houses/factories etc blocking the route?' It's not as big a deal as some people think, because there are various ways of addressing this. The actual choice will be based on a number of factors including cost, practicality, engineering issues and public relations.

One way is to use CPOs (compulsory purchase orders) to purchase blocking properties. A second way would be to bridge/tunnel. A third way would be to utilise street running, though this may be a little radical for some!

But I suspect that often the option will be a by-pass. The above map was drawn to show how this would work at Shepton Mallet. Actually seeing it on paper shows  that there can be other advantages to by-passing, at Shepton for example the station set up can be rationalised, a joint station would be accessed by both the S&D and East Somerset lines. This is cheaper and also handier. The above map also includes a Parkway station, though I suspect that by the time this becomes reality there will be few cars still on the roads!

So the principals established can (and will) apply to anywhere on the S&D and of course on the wider network. The old excuse of 'there's a house/building/car park/tree in the way can be ignored!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

midford this sunday

 
 
There will be a work party up at Midford this Sunday. It looks like a few more people are now getting actively involved with restoring the station, probably as a result of the influx of new members we've seen since the Masbury Appeal hit the outside world!
 
Stuart is now inviting through Facebook events (as well as all the usual channels including this blog!) and details will be on there.  
 
The station is now just about cleared (although the summer does tend to be something of a battle with the weeds) and we'll soon be looking at actually rebuilding the station. We are just waiting for the Masbury Appeal to be concluded (I have a meeting at Midsomer Norton on this very matter this Saturday) and we will probably launch a similar Midford Appeal (but with a much smaller target). There's no better spot to work and the Hope and Anchor next door does fantastic food!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Masbury countdown

 

The Masbury Appeal has far exceeded my wildest expectations. The last figure we have is £62,000 but this is now almost two weeks old, and more has doubtless come in. If we conservatively estimate £80,000 now in the pot, then this equates to over £6000 a week coming in!

It is still short of the Appeal total of course, but that shouldn't be too big an issue. The cost of the property will be £375,000, the extra £125,000 is for various things such as legal fees etc, but a big slice is initial repair and restoration costs.

I suspect the Appeal will continue to run after 30 September until the full £500,000 is raised.

This Saturday a few of us have a meeting with the current owner of Masbury station. Hopefully we will be able to negotiate an extension or possibly look towards a mortgage, share issue or some other similar way of raising the balance, so we can get in and start the work.

So thanks to everyone who has sent money - I know of one individual donation well into 5 figures for example. This Appeal has really caught the imagination of S&D fans nationally, and further afield. We've worked together to really make things happen and caught the imagination of the entire railway heritage community.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

S&D Day


 
I got the chance to visit TWO S&D sites yesterday, for the first time! First stop was Midsomer Norton where the signalbox/greenhouse section looks amazing. The greenhouse in particular looks like it's been there for a hundred years or more. It was nice to see the stone cold frame to the south of the signalbox as well. The whole site looks amazing.



Then, via Bristol (Wulfric wanted to see two of our cats for the first time), I popped in at Midford. This is the first chance I've had to visit two of the S&D sites in one go. It's a strange feeling, a nice one of course! You could now, in a day, travel south from Bath and visit FIVE active sites (hopefully soon six!) all being restored along the line. I don't think there's any other place in Britain (or even the world) where so many sites on the same line are being restored and rebuilt. The S&D is really coming back ... and in so many places!

The vegetarian choice at the Hope and Anchor wasn't impressive so, with the road south to Frome being closed at the viaduct, we headed back towards Bath and popped in the Cross Keys for a fantastic curry. And who should be there but Stuart and Tom Seale, the heroes of Midford! We're having a big session next Thursday (4.9.2013) so if interested please pop along, if only to see me in a flourescent jacket and Mick Knox yielding a chainsaw like someone out of a 1970s horror film!

Monday, August 19, 2013

inspiration north of the border

 
There was always something very odd about the Waverley closure - it came right towards the end of the Beeching cuts, the line was a double track main line running through difficult terrain that experienced severe winter weather. It clearly needed a railway, and surely closure would be abandoned eventually. It made no sense. But the line WAS closed, with huge protests, and the area fell quiet. But only for a few weeks, closed at the start of the winter perhaps it was inevitable that the line would have to be reopened when the first big snows of the winter came and all the roads were blocked!
 
Soon afterwards a scheme was proposed to reopen the line using a mix of 'real' trains and heritage scheme. Sadly it was decades ahead of its time and withina  few years the tracks were lifted and towns like Hawick and Galashiels had to manage without modern transport. As the article below reveals, Hawick suffered enormously from the loss of its railway.
 
Now the line's coming back, but for now only the top 30 miles. Hawick is STILL without modern transport, but the line will soon be 'just up the road' and pressure to reopen to Hawick will be irresistible. And once Hawick is reached surely the next step will be to reopen south to Carlisle? And the people of Hawick will then have the option to travel to Edinburgh OR Carlisle, or indedd anywhere else they wish to go! But why oh why has it taken over 40 years for people to see sense?
 
Sound familiar? Of course it does, the Waverley situation is very similar to that of the S&D, though down here things are moving even more slowly. Of course we run through far more heavily populated countryside with many stranded big towns (and indeed a CITY!) en route. But the story is inspiring andf one more nail in the coffin of the 'it'll never happen' brigade!

 

Extend Borders Railway to Hawick, ministers urged


GET the Borders Railway on track for extension to Hawick and beyond. That’s the message to Scottish ministers at their Tuesday meeting in the region. The Campaign for Borders Rail has put the case for continuing the current Edinburgh to Tweedbank project, on to Hawick and ultimately reconnecting the entire mainline between the capital, Midlothian, the Borders and Carlisle.
On the occasion of the Scottish Cabinet meeting in Hawick , the Campaign for Borders Rail (CBR) has urged the Scottish Government to start planning for an 18-mile extension of the new Borders Railway from its Tweedbank terminus through to Hawick – which is further from the rail network than any other town of its size in Britain .
In a briefing paper submitted to the Scottish Cabinet, CBR argues that Hawick was the biggest loser from the closure of the 98-mile Waverley Route from Edinburgh to Carlisle in 1969 , one of the last of the infamous ’Beeching cuts’. CBR chair, Simon Walton, commented:
“A train service taking around 1¼ hours to Edinburgh was replaced by buses which needed 2¼ hours to negotiate the 51 miles up the A7 to the capital. Today, public transport from Hawick to Edinburgh – still provided by a basic bus rather than an express coach, and taking 2 hours 7 minutes – is slower than it was in 1901.
“Hawick’s population has declined – it has now lost the status of largest town in the Borders to Galashiels – and a large part of the Burnfoot district of Hawick is included in the 15 per cent ‘Most Deprived Areas’ of Scotland. A third of households in the town do not have access to a car.
“Two generations of Hawick people have missed out on the opportunities for access to education, employment and involvement in rail-based tourism which they would have enjoyed if the railway to Edinburgh had not been closed in 1969.“
CBR acknowledges that there will be a significant improvement in the public transport journey time from Hawick to Edinburgh when the Borders Railway opens – around 1 hour 40 minutes, half an hour quicker than at present – but argues that this will not yield the step-change in journey time reduction and overall quality of service which Galashiels, Stow and Tweedbank will enjoy from 2015 when the 30½ mile Borders Railway opens. It concludes that an express rail service from Hawick to Edinburgh could complete the journey in just over an hour, “transforming the town’s accessibility and attraction”.
The briefing calls on the Scottish Government and Scottish Borders Council to take action on three key issues, to start planning for onwards extension of the Borders Railway to Hawick:
  1. Scottish Government must urgently review whether the current predominantly single-track Borders Railway specification – which is still being finalised in terms of detailed design – is sufficiently ‘future-proofed’ to allow for extension to Hawick, for example through scope for cost-effective future lengthening of sections of double track beyond the currently planned provision.
  2. Scottish Government / Scottish Borders Council should commission a STAG (Scottish Transport Appraisal Guidance) analysis of the cost and benefits (economic, environmental and social) – of an18-mile rail extension from Tweedbank to Hawick, also serving Melrose and Newtown St Boswells.
  3. Scottish Borders Council should ensure that the Local Development Plan’s safeguarding of land for  Borders Railway extension on from Tweedbank to Hawick and Carlisle also protects sections of potential new alignment of the railway from inappropriate development .
ENDS
MORE INFO: CBR chair, Simon Walton, on 01578 760686 / 07540 313018.
or chairman.bordersrail@uwclub.net
NOTES FOR EDITORS:
The Scottish Cabinet is due to meet in Hawick on Tuesday 20th August.
The Campaign for Borders Rail (CBR) is the grassroots group set up in 1999 to make the case for restoring rail to the Borders – the only region of Britain without passenger trains. CBR’s key aim was realised on 6th November 2012 when the Scottish Government’s Transport Minister Keith Brown announced that Transport Scotland and Network Rail had concluded a deal to construct the new Borders Railway – bringing trains back after an absence of more than 45 years. CBR’s overall objective remains the full reinstatement of rail services between Edinburgh, the Borders and Carlisle, of which the extension of the line to Hawick would represent a vital next step.
The new Borders Railway will run from Newcraighall in south east Edinburgh to Tweedbank in the Borders. There will be four intermediate stations in Midlothian and two in the Borders. At 30½ miles length, this will be the longest rail re-opening in modern British history when services begin in mid-2015.
When the 98-mile ’Waverley Route’ from Edinburgh via the Borders to Carlisle closed on 6th January 1969, it left Hawick and Galashiels further from the rail network than any other towns of their size in Britain – with Hawick the most isolated at 43 miles from Carlisle and 51 miles from Edinburgh.
CBR briefing paper to the Scottish Cabinet is available on request from Simon Walton (chairman.bordersrail@uwclub.net) or via this link https://www.dropbox.com/s/wigwg8y429wk3ad/CBR%20Hawick%20rail%20briefing%20August%202013%20final.pdf.
The CBR briefing notes that there have been a number of breaches of the old Waverley Route by new roads between Tweedbank and St Boswells, but there are “several viable options for new alignments where necessary to reinstate the railway“. South of St Boswells, while some of the former railway bridges over roads have been removed, almost all of the old route alignment remains in situ.

Contact: Simon Walton
Phone: 07540313018
Email: waltonsg@uwclub.net
Website: http://www.campaignforbordersrail.org

Friday, August 16, 2013

great news from midford


We've just had the surveyor's report for the bank above Lynwood, the ex canal property that sits at the foot of the embankment at Midford.

Basically the embankment is sound, although some concrete needs replacing. Now we have the report we can put a plan for regular maintenance in place.

The owner of Lynwood has kindly agreed to share the costs with us for the report on a 50/50 basis. The total cost to the New S&D will be around £500 but it means we have an excellent survey of the site which hopefully will not need to be repeated for many years. I know it's not as glamorous as Masbury purchase or hiring in a steam loco, but as an additional cost we will need to raise the money for this. ALL donations very welcome, please include 'Midford Survey' in the address line or somewhere on a Paypal payment so it can be allocated properly! Cheques can be sent to New S&D, Midford Survey, 10 Bellamy Avenue, Hartcliffe, BRISTOL, BS13 0HW, Paypal payments can be made to SDRHTSales@aol.com

Conclusion of the report -

5.0 Conclusion/Recommendations





5.01 The embankment appears to have changed very little since the construction of the railway line. The

overgrown vegetation has however damaged the embankment directly behind the house, where the

management of surface water is inadequate.

5.02 During the investigation of the embankment, we found no evidence of instability. This was difficult

however due to the mass of vegetation. There are many rocky outcrops suggesting a natural rock

face below, but also areas of sandy soil suggesting slip. However, the profile of the slope appears

the same as noted in historic photographs.

5.03 As such we do not feel there is any evidence to suggest the embankment is unstable. There may be

isolated areas that have slipped but the house appears to be well protected.

5.04 However, the concrete face to the steep embankment behind the wall is in poor condition and water

is getting underneath. We therefore would advise that the loose concrete render is removed and

replaced with newer frost resistant concrete render.

5.05 The existing gully at the back of the lean to should be enlarged and maintained regularly to avoid

further blockage. Also an allowance should be made for protecting the lean to against running surface

water.
 


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'.

'Hmmmm'.

'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'.

'Basingstoke?'

'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!



Saturday, July 27, 2013

masbury steams ahead


Excellent news today is that the Masbury Appeal has now raised £40,000! Some will see this as a glass 92% empty but in reality it is a glass (and leverage!) that is 8% on its way.

These are difficult times for most people, but there's been a huge amount of generosity from a lot of people. Whilst we are almost half way through the appeal period remember that 30 September is merely the date when the station may appear on the open market. The appeal will continue after that date of course, and it may be a decent sized pot may delay it a little longer, which is all good news. And we'll be entering the season of rail enthusiasm, the winter, when the pace of donations should go up.

So whatever you can do please do to raise money! We'll keep pushing the appeal this end but we can only do so much. It would be fantastic if we did have the whole £500,000 by 30 September, it will make life a lot easier!

Sunday, July 21, 2013

jazz for masbury

 
There will be a big jazz event at Midsomer Norton on 10 August 2013 (details on above poster).
 
 
Shades of the S&D in the sixties when a DMU worked a special service to an open air jazz event at (I think) Wellow!
 

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

masbury progress


The latest figure for money raised to purchase Masbury is £29,300. It's a tidy sum but there's still a long way to go!

I think we need to be proactive - all of us. We need to look at ways to raise money individually and also make sure as many people as possible know what is happening.

I'm not one for saying 'this is our only chance'. But it is our best chance and to have Masbury saved forever for rail use will be a huge step towards getting the S&D back.

Progress at Spetisbury, Midford, Midsomer Norton, Shillingstone and Gartell continues. The S&D is coming alive all along its route - and it would be great to see activity up on the Mendips!

So start spreading the message and keep thinking of ways to raise money for the station. We are part of the way there, but there's still a lot to do!

Thursday, July 11, 2013

masbury earache!


Oh dear, just endured a forty minute earbashing by the people that own a property next to Masbury. Despite an earlier phone call about a month ago where I thought I'd allayed their fears it was not to be!

The latest communication was thanks to some TV and radio publicity for the appeal. The callers seemed to think that we shouldn't be publicising this appeal, and they also picked up on some of the spin about when trains will actually be running at Masbury.

Don't get me wrong, I understand their fears of the place buzzing with people and the whiff of steam, I can understand the non-rail fan mindset. Except this rather benign image wasn't the one they had in their head. I used psychology and asked them what THEY thought would happen from 1 October if we get the site. 'Well you'll be running trains almost right away, and it will scare the horses and our house price will plummet'.

Let's analyse that. Even the most optimistic person (not me) doesn't expect trains of any sort to be running here for 4 years at least. Real through trains carrying freight and passengers are decades away yet. The first few years at Masbury will be gentle restoration.

Horses? Well any sensible horse will go to the other end of the field, and will soon get used to the occasional train.

House prices? ALWAYS go UP, and go up more the closer they are to a station, even a heritage station. Utility you see. The really interesting thing (and perhaps they shouldn't have told me!) was that they had an INSURANCE to cover any shortfall 'IF THE RAILWAY IS REOPENED'. They were more far sighted than most of us!!

They even dared to compare Masbury, that idyll of railway perfection on the finest line in England, to a SEWAGE FARM opening on your doorstep!

Their fears are not real. They will USE the railway when it's reopened, we all will as there won't be any other realistic option. Their house price will shoot up as the railway returns. And their horses will soon learn that trains are fun and will chase them the length of their field.

The world simply is not as many people see it - it is far nicer than that.

All that 40 minutes of nonsense did was to make me even more determined to GET THE STATION BACK!

Tuesday, July 02, 2013

stamping for masbury!


Here's a great way to build up the fund - I am buying stamps, coins and postcards in bulk. £10 a kilo for stamps and £5 a kilo for coins and postcards.

ALL proceeds will go to the Masbury appeal.

Just send to Stamps for Charity (077 MAS)
10 Bellamy Avenue
Hartcliffe
BRISTOL
BS13 0HW

More info at - http://www.stampsforcharity.org.uk/1.html

Sunday, June 16, 2013

midweek at midford

 
Cleared platform.


Looking towards Long Arch Bridge.

 
Classic fencing starts to reappear - and makes the narrow road safer.

 
Midford main mover Stuart Seale chats to New S&D Press and Publicity Officer Kevin Gover.
 
Had a nice (and rare) trip to Midford on Wednesday to meet with our new Press and Publicity Officer Kevin Gover and get a chance to catch up with progress on the site.
 
Stuart kindly showed Kevin around the site and I did some radio stuff for the Masbury Appeal.
 
Interestingly Kevin walked from Freshford to Midford and I may well try to reach Midford by train and foot in future, rather than use the slow and rather ridiculous car. It's about a two mile walk in each direction.
 
Television is also taking an interest in developments at Masbury so expect to have it rammed down your throats (in the nicest possible way!) over the summer months!  
 
Midford is looking great and the litter problems we suffered from anti-social visitors after the Two Tunnels route opened seem to have calmed down somewhat. New fencing has appeared along the top of Long Arch Bridge, together with some new safety bollards, much improving this part of the site.
 
Remember if you would like to help in restoring Midford to its former glory please contact me via leysiner@aol.com and I will put you in touch with Stuart.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

get stoking!


Julian Jefferson has just added a neat graphic to the Facebook Masbury page, which will show how much has been collected towards purchase of the station.

Although it looks like it's set at zero it is just off first base, but we've all got a lot to do over the next four months to get all that cash in!

I was at Midford today chatting to our new Press and Publicity Officer who has excellent contacts in the media - and hopefully the first fruits of that will be visible soon. Until the end of September I'll be pretty much concentrating on the Masbury Appeal as it's so important to the future of the S&D.

Sunday, June 09, 2013

south of broadstone


Route was just to the left of the footpath.
 


Looking north past the road pinch.


Overview of the site - the railway took a route from this point to a point close to the road in the distance.
 
Back to last Wednesday's site visit this was the potential third pinch point. There's been some road works here that whilst not impeding on the route does make it a little more difficult than had the trackbed been properly protected as a transport corridor. The biggest issue is the road that joins the main road and this may require some (expensive) remodelling in the area. But still of course doable! It would be interesting to see how the railway and roads originally coexisted here as it may of course be easier to simply restore it as it was. Whatever the outcome Broadstone is desperately in need of its railway and surely can't go much longer without modern transport?