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!

Sunday, March 06, 2016

Midsomer Norton today


(All Midsomer Norton South 6.3.2016 copyright Steve Sainsbury/Rail Thing)

A variety of shots from my trip to Midsomer Norton today, which hopefully give some idea what a fantastic event it was! Two engines in steam, heaving platforms, full trains every 20 minutes, families, enthusiasts. an MP, the mayor, the lot!

The volunteers and members have done a fantastic job, both in recreating this iconic S&D station and in staging such a fantastic event over two weekends. I heard figures of income (which I obviously can't repeat) but let's just say the coffers will be brim full and should allow an even bigger engine to appear in September, when the next big loco-led event is scheduled.

So the 50 year mark has been passed, and we can now look forward again. The S&D has been cleverly lifted from the Isthmian League to the Championship in two fabulous weekends - and eyes will soon be looking to Radstock once the line reaches Chilcompton Halt, with other plans at other locations along the route which, given time, will push the S&D to be permanent champions of the premier league of rail heritage in the UK!

If you're a member down at Midsomer Norton remember that tomorrow is YOUR day, when the Jinty will be in steam and operating to say 'thank you' to all of you.

Saturday, March 05, 2016


47406 leaves Midsomer Norton 5.3.2016 (Somerset and Dorset Railway Facebook Group)

50 years Jinty at Midsomer Norton South 5.3.2016 (Dean Howe)

Milk train on the Gartell Railway 5.3.2016 (Chandler James Thick via Gartell Railway Facebook)

It's fantastic to see that what could have been a miserable date has been completely turned on its head and turned into a celebration of everything S&D. What a fantastic line it is!

This is just a tiny taster of what's been happening at 2 of the 5 sites!

So we're marking 50 years since possibly the worst ever decision by a government was implemented, to tear up a valuable main line railway linking Britain's only World Heritage City to its premier seaside resort, through some of the finest countryside in England. What were they thinking?

What I'm thinking is that ALL S&D enthusiasts should now COMMIT themselves to doing everything they can to get the WHOLE line up and running within the next 50 years. That's a proper working railway offering freight and passenger trains using heritage style vehicles and locos in many cases and running through stations that are copies of those that were originally there - ie proper buildings with facilities and staff, not a basic railway. Let's building a railway that people will need AND want, a community asset that we'll all be proud of.

Thursday, March 03, 2016

Countdown to the Weekend - Shillingstone


Shillingstone will be commemorating the 50th anniversary of the temporary closure of the S&D by cosmetically putting 30075 'in steam' over the weekend.

The loco only recently arrived at the station and real steaming is a way off yet, but there will be the unmistakable sight and smell of steam wafting about the station this Saturday and Sunday. An authentic crew will also be on the footplate, stoking the fire and, no doubt, looking rugged and wistful!

As soon as the event is over volunteers at Shillingstone will get down to the far less glamorous role of restoring the loco so that it can operate in the future.

For details of how to become a part owner in either this loco or her sister 30076 please see Project 62's website at www.project62.supanet.com

More details of the other events along the long will follow before the weekend!