The New Somerset and Dorset Railway was formed on 6 March 2009, 43 years to the day since the original S&D closed to passengers. It was formed as a reaction to climate change, peak oil, capacity restraints on the network and inefficiency in other forms of transport.
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, to restore sections of the route as they become viable.
Closure of the S&D was a political rather than economic event. It may have had some justification in the 1960s but has no justification now. Large towns such as Radstock, Midsomer Norton, Shepton Mallet, Wincanton, Sturminster Newton, Blandford, Wimborne, Wells, Glastonbury and Burnham-on-Sea, all once served by the S&D, are STILL without any modern form of transport link. The roads serving these places are generally single carriageway and slow, are often congested and do not provide a decent standard of transport, especially for those without access to a car. Buses have to compete for road space with cars, lorries, tractors, horses and bikes and can not even begin to offer the service that a modern railway will.
The New S&D will have a particular role to play in carrying freight traffic, originating both on the route and outside of the area. As peak oil hits road transport costs will mount exponentially and towns and villages without a rail connection will suffer terribly.
Rail traffic has risen relentlessly since the 1990s and some lines are beginning to reach capacity. We need new railways NOW, not in twenty or thirty years' time. By rerouting some traffic as well as originating our own we will ease pressure on the rail network, reduce carbon emissions and prepare the towns and villages in Somerset and Dorset for a future where oil becomes very scarce indeed.
First steps for the New S&D will be to ensure that the local authorities along the route are aware of our plans so that no further 'development' of the route takes place. We are also about to begin the rebuilding of Midford station, just south of Bath, which will, at first, serve as an information point, shop, office and refreshment room. There is no intention to lay track at first, although Midford will be a working station again in the future when the Bath to Midsomer Norton line is reopened.
Please feel free to contact us at:
The New Somerset and Dorset Railway,
10 Bellamy Avenue,
Bristol, BS13 0HW.
Telephone: (0117) 3738973.