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Somerset and Dorset Rebuild

Discussion in 'Heritage Railways & Centres in the UK' started by lynbarn, May 18, 2016.

  1. lynbarn

    lynbarn New Member

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    Hi all

    I wanted to start a new thread on the Somerset and Dorset as it is fifty years since it closed, yet I can see a day when at least part of this line is reopened, but the point of this discussion is to work out just what is and is not possible should this line get rebuilt, and to also highlight what problems such a task would face.

    At one end we have the yes everything will get rebuild group, and at the other we have the it is not going to happen group.

    I am hoping that there will be a more knowledgeable person on here that can help me with a number of questions.

    Every year there is the great Dorset Steam Fair held I believe near Blandford Forum, my question is this, is this site also the former Blandford Forum Army Camp?

    The reason I am asking is, would it be worth looking into building a link line between the old Blandford forum Station site and the Great Dorset Steam Fair site?

    Once a rebuilt railway reaches the station site at Blandford as it would give the Steam Fair yet another attraction and another way to get to the Fair.

    Regards

    Colin Rainsbury
     
  2. Maunsell man

    Maunsell man Member

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    No it isn't. GDSF is actually located at Tarrant Hinton in the middle of agricultural land and in a valley. Definitely not ex MOD!
     
  3. nick813

    nick813 Well-Known Member Loco Owner

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    Hello, the Great Dorset Steam Fair is not the Army Camp.
    S&D:

    Blandford is a major problem, both North and South.
    South...no viaduct over the river
    North track bed well built over.
    Broadstone built over.
    Wimbourne built over.
    North of Blandford:Sustrans
     
  4. SpudUk

    SpudUk Member

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    With the S&D, I can see how there is a use for it now, both interms of a suburban line for BANES and Bristol commuters, and as a freight route from Southampton up to the midlands. That said, the costs of rebuilding it are hugely prohibitive. This is firmly in the impossible camp I'm afraid Colin.
     
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  5. The Saggin' Dragon

    The Saggin' Dragon Part of the furniture Staff Member Moderator

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    A freight route from Southampton to the Midlands? Surely the Didcot, Newbury and Southampton would be the obvious choice for that (and that is just as unlikely to ever be rebuilt)
    The S&D was always marginal in terms of its original need/purpose and any modern rebuild would be on equally shaky ground in my opinion. I think that a lot of interest in it being rebuilt stems from a rose-tinted vision of the past.
     
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  6. 35B

    35B Resident of Nat Pres

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    Agreed - though I'd have thought the MSWJR might also be a good route north. The article in the latest Backtrack is interesting, suggesting that it was effectively insolvent even between the wars, let alone later. And as for freight, could someone remind me how modern block trains would work through Bath?
     
  7. The Saggin' Dragon

    The Saggin' Dragon Part of the furniture Staff Member Moderator

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    Block trains did work over the DNS; Oil trains headed by 9Fs or BRCW Type 3s were some of the last regular traffic.
    The MSWJR didn't really go in the right direction; routing freight for the midlands through Andoversford, Cheltenham and either up the Lickey or through Stratford or Worcester would not have compared to sending it directly to Didcot - Oxford and North.
     
  8. 35B

    35B Resident of Nat Pres

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    You missed my point - I'm aware of the Fawley traffic; it was the layout at Bath that I was questioning.
     
  9. The Saggin' Dragon

    The Saggin' Dragon Part of the furniture Staff Member Moderator

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    Sorry, I agree with your point about Bath; not viable at all.
     
  10. lynbarn

    lynbarn New Member

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    Thanks Guys

    So as a commercial undertaking it does not stack up to rebuild it, I suppose you could say that about 99% of the Heritage railways as well.

    So if we look at what else happening in that area, we have the Glastonbury Music event which lasts a week and of course you have the City of Wells (The only UK city without a railway connection), also you have Glastonbury itself which is a good tourist attraction and not far from they you also have Cheddar Gorge.

    If it was possible to link all the various tourist attractions together via one line, now that is something else to think about.
     
  11. 35B

    35B Resident of Nat Pres

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    Indeed. I'm not sure that's the S&D main line though.
     
  12. Woof Mk2

    Woof Mk2 New Member

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    Am sure that your statement about 99% is incorrect. There must be quite a few commercially successful railways.. just a bit more that 1%
     
  13. Beckford

    Beckford Guest

    The MSWJR would have its issues as well, not least of which is that Dowdeswell Viaduct was blown up.
     
  14. 35B

    35B Resident of Nat Pres

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    Indeed - but if we're going for reopening of economically unviable lines to support flows that have better alternatives, what is a viaduct between friends...

    More seriously, the S&D main line is one of those, along with the Waverley south of Hawick, the Border Counties, Woodhead, the M&GN, the GC Main Line, the L&B and the Withered Arm that I wish had survived but where (controversially in one or two of the above) I also believe closure was fully justified.
     
  15. Forestpines

    Forestpines Part of the furniture

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    Fact check time! Wells certainly isn't the only UK city without a railway - there's also Ripon, Armagh and St David's. I think every city in Scotland is rail-connected.
     
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  16. Forestpines

    Forestpines Part of the furniture

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    There is certainly a need for better commuting from Radstock into Bath, but I am not convinced, given the geography, that a railway is the best way to do that. The Radstock-Bristol line might be more practicable for commuters, but reinstating the route through Bristol would be very difficult, particularly around St Phillips and Brislington.

    The cycle path from Bath to Midford has become extremely popular in the relatively short time since it opened, and I suspect any suggestion of closing it would be very unpopular - and somehow I don't think you could get a train *and* cyclists through a single-track tunnel!
     
  17. Southernman99

    Southernman99 Member Friend

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    You're forgetting St Davids is a city without a rail connection.
    Rather than coming from the east towards Glasto/ Wells. It is easier and the junctions face the right way at Highbridge for a re-connection onto the Western rather than rebuild the Midland route.
    The DNS is an interesting case. Nowadays with container traffic increasing to and from Southampton. Getting those flows out of Basingstoke and Reading (where freight traffic provided the need for a flyover) but getting around Newbury and building a brand new formation where the rather major A34 utilises the alignment south of Newbury in not so flat countryside.
    I think we all get the feeling the Waverley, under political pressure, will extend to Hawick. The GC would only again replicate the MML. New connections would have to be put in but what passenger traffic would use it versus the MML? What freight flows? Also, how would you get across Rugby and the M6?
    When over 50% (maybe more) of Heritage railways were in their infancy. Locos/ coaches/ infrastructure were all still there or available. Starting a heritage railway now would be B****y hard with the lack of readily available locos and stock plus where do you base yourself without treading on the toes of another, already well established heritage centre.
     
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  18. David R

    David R Well-Known Member

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    Wells - the only UK city without a rail connection? What about St Davids in Wales or Ripon in Yorkshire?

    David R
     
  19. lynbarn

    lynbarn New Member

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    Point taken about other cities without a rail connection, regards my comment about 99% of all heritage railways not being commercially viable I should have made it clear to mean at the beginning of operations, those that have survived have become commercial viable and have done what BR could not do, now I am not saying that for every railway track which is losing money they should put on steam specials every weekend, but sometimes I think that organisations such as BR (as it was) applies the same rules and regulations to all railways, regardless of local conditions, some lines could have been converted to tramway operations or a light railway like the Dockland Light Railway in London, they all don't have to have to have a class 37 and ten on behind to be successful, I am just trying to think outside of the box.
     
  20. johnofwessex

    johnofwessex Part of the furniture

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    I think an economic history of the SDJR would be fascinating.......................

    I suggest that Blandford - Poole & Shepton Mallett - Bath may have made some sense as commuter routes, just not in 1966. There was a post war proposal to re-route the S&D via the Camerton branch to join the GWR Westbury - Bath line so all services would have gone to Bath Spa rather that Green Park however it came to nothing.
     

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