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!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

The Midford Appeal.


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).


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


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!