Welcome to the 'New Somerset and Dorset Railway'
Thursday, June 29, 2006
preparing for peak oil
It's not just the S&D and the Peak Oil enthusiasts who are looking ahead to a world without oil. The Swedish government are already planning for an oil-less future from 2020. Our own government, trailing as usual, is giving us a few clues that even they are preparing covertly for the inevitable.
Sustrans was a clever idea - pushing the responsibility of maintaining the future rail infrastructure to an NGO (at no overt cost to the taxpayer except those daft enough to play the Lottery!) was quite forward thinking, though I'd have preferred the French/Irish/Swedish route of mothballing the rail infrastructure with track and signalling intact! Sustrans shouldn't cry crocodile tears in twenty years time as their cycleways are grabbed back by a desperate government; at least the S&D will work with cycle groups rather than against them as Peak Oil hits home.
Have a good look where nearly all new supermarket development is taking place - it's invariably alongside existing or to-be-restored rail routes. The government hasn't quite made the quantum leap in thinking that will see future retail activity locally-based (ie no supermarkets) but they are half-way there! Putting supermarkets next to existing or future rail routes, in the government's thinking, means that they will still be able to be supplied with products once road transport is finished.
The real threat to road transport isn't simply Peak Oil, but the cost-benefits of maintaining a road network for a small number of private cars and public buses. It won't be economic, and taxpayers won't pay for an elaborate and under-used infrastructure that they won't have access to. As always discount the exotic 'oil-replacements' like biofuel, hydrogen or batteries. They will be vastly more expensive than fossil fuel and consequently not available to most of us. Watch over the next ten years as almost all infrastructure investment is switched from road-building to rail/tram building and the encouragement of rail and rail vehicle manufacturing within the UK (and elsewhere of course).
Every day brings us closer to the end of the Oil Age and to the reinstatement of the S&D throughout.