Somerset heritage railway purchases another 750 yards of track bed
The Somerset & Dorset Railway Heritage Trust has completed its purchase of an important section of the former Somerset & Dorset main line railway that is vital to the railway's future plans to expansion.
The section of line purchased consists of 750 yards of former track bed from just south of the Chilcompton Tunnels to the Redan Bridge, as well as several acres of former agricultural land next to the line that the vendor stipulated had to form part of the purchase. The vendor has said that he is happy that an operational railway will be reinstated.
The purchased track bed. // Credit: Somerset & Dorset Railway Heritage Trust
Ownership of the additional land will benefit the trust as will provide a useful point of road access as well as the potential for income in the future. Purchase was completed after a protracted period of detailed negotiations, and was funded from a generous legacy left to the Trust with the request that it should be used for the future development of the railway.
Soon, a line to somewhere. // Credit: Somerset & Dorset Railway Heritage Trust
The change of ownership, which was confirmed on Tuesday, 10 October, will now allow the Trust to move one step closer in its ambition to extend the operational railway. It is thanks to such legacy donations that the future of major projects such as this one can be realised, and it isn't possible to overstate their value and importance.
What lies ahead. // Credit: Somerset & Dorset Railway Heritage Trust
Before newly purchased track bed can be connected to the existing running line, infilled cutting leading up to the Chilcompton Tunnels must be cleared, whilst there is another issue that both tunnels are currently occupied by tenants of Highways England. However, the Trust is liaising with all key stakeholders to resolve these issues.
The Trust is following the lead shown by other heritage railways that it is important to take a long-term view of the railway's future regardless of what obstacles there may be. With that in mind, the current Trustees are doing all that they can to lay the long term foundations for future trustees to build on.
Before any work is done to clear the newly purchased section of trackbed, a considerable amount of consolidation work must be done, including installing of robust fencing. The Trust will also be meeting with Chilcompton Parish Council to provide it with details of the overall strategy for the eventual reinstatement of an operational railway on the trackbed, and to garner its support for the Trust's plans.
To cover the cost of that fencing and its development plans for the extension, the Trust has started an appeal to attract donations, and details of ways to donate can be found online at the Trust's Website: Fundraising & Appeals – Somerset & Dorset Railway Heritage Trust.
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