About the S&D - Britain's Loveliest Railway
The Somerset and Dorset Joint Railway was considered by many to be the finest railway in the UK. With its fascinating history, unusual working practices, extraordinary variety of locomotives and trains and its route through some of the finest scenery in the south west its appeal was not only to railway enthusiasts but also to country lovers. It had everything.
As well as this of course it provided modern transport (compared to today's slow buses and lorries) to the towns and villages along its route as well as linking Bournemouth to the Midlands and north. Through its junction at Templecombe it also provided quick and convenient interchange to London and the far south west. Its branches served important places like Glastonbury, Wells, Burnham and Bridgwater.
It was closed as part of the Beeching axe, but many felt that the line was deliberately run down when it passed into the hands of the Western Region in 1958. No attempts were made to cut costs or develop traffic, and the line was steam worked to the end.
The S&D was a main line with branch line features. Neat stations, local trains between the expresses, a real family feel with long rural stretches between the busy towns.
Many feel that the line should never have closed. Its closure has left large places like Blandford, Midsomer Norton, Radstock and Shepton Mallet off the rail network. With the need to cut carbon emissions and the imminent end of cheap fuel, the S&D is really desperately missed.
At last there is a serious movement to rebuild the whole line, to bring the trains back and to return all those communities that were betrayed by short sighted local and national politicians in the 1960s to the 21st century. The New S&D will offer modern transport for both passengers and freight. We'll be at the cutting edge of new transport technology as the oil starts to run out. The New S&D will not be a 'basic' railway, it will have manned well-built stations rather than 'bus shelters', it will sit unobtrusively in the countryside rather than scarring it with noise, litter and the dangers that roads bring, it will work with nature rather than against it and, above all, it will be sustainable. It will allow our town centres to belong to the people that live and visit there, not to cars and lorries.
It's the twenty first century - and it's time the towns and villages of Somerset and Dorset had a transport system for the twenty first century rather than the twentieth!
The New S&D will be very active in lobbying, land purchase and rebuilding sections of the route as they become viable. We urge all local people, railway enthusiasts and lovers of the countryside to get involved. There is already a rush to restore railways all over the UK - it's important that we organise, network and lobby for OUR line now, not in twenty years' time when every town and village will be demanding their trains back!