Welcome to the 'New Somerset and Dorset Railway'

The original Somerset and Dorset Railway closed very controversially in 1966. It is time that decision, made in a very different world, was reversed. We now have many councillors, MPs, businesses and individuals living along the line supporting us. Even the Ministry of Transport supports our general aim. The New S&D was formed in 2009 with the aim of rebuilding as much of the route as possible, at the very least the main line from Bath (Britain's only World Heritage City) to Bournemouth (our premier seaside resort); as well as the branches to Wells, Glastonbury and Wimborne. We will achieve this through a mix of lobbying, trackbed purchase and restoration of sections of the route as they become economically viable. With Climate Change, road congestion, capacity constraints on the railways and now Peak Oil firmly on the agenda we are pushing against an open door. We already own Midford just south of Bath, and are restoring Spetisbury under license from DCC, but this is just the start. There are other established groups restoring stations and line at Midsomer Norton and Shillingstone, and the fabulous narrow gauge line near Templevcombe, the Gartell Railway.

There are now FIVE sites being actively restored on the S&D and this blog will follow what goes on at all of them!
Midford - Midsomer Norton - Gartell - Shillingstone - Spetisbury

Our Aim:

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 (of all types!) To restore sections of the route as they become viable.
Whilst the New S&D will primarily be a modern passenger and freight railway offering state of the art trains and services, we will also restore the infrastructure to the highest standards and encourage steam working and steam specials over all sections of the route, as well as work very closely with existing heritage lines established on the route.

This blog contains my personal views. Anything said here does not necessarily represent the aims or views of any of the groups currently restoring, preserving or operating trains over the Somerset and Dorset Railway!

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

like topsy ...

Whilst here at the S&D we are busy expanding our operations, the network outside has been doing the same. Over the last year the (non-heritage) sector has added 315 trains a day, and passenger numbers have increased by almost 3.6%. (source Railstaff, issue 104, July 2006). And this is before we see any real Peak Oil effects! It is also on a fairly static network, once lines are reopened on a regular basis then these figures will skyrocket. The real problem is going to be the ability to source trained staff, vehicles and materials (track etc).

It's impossible to over-emphasise the huge changes and expansion that will happen to the network in the coming decades. Almost all the Beeching cuts will be reversed, totally new lines will be built and there will be an enormous expansion in light and ultra-light rail.

I'm glad we just got our quarter mile plus of new track! Posted by Picasa


Rockers said...

I've read that the existing lines in a lot of places are at capacity. Rail travel is getting more popular, I think more people have been using rail than since the 50's!!
Beeching was short sighted but he was working to a mandate. The real idiots are the councillors etc who allowed development on the these lines when it was glaringly obvious that in the future due to population increases, congestion etc that these routes could be valuable. In the Norton Radstock area reopening the old lines to Bath / Bristol would be a great way to handle commuter traffic but the costs would be horrendous, so much of the route has been comprimised by development and there in lies the problem of adding those disued lines to the network. These idiots in power really have dug us into a hole. Even now with the benefit of hindsight they want to develop the old railway site in Radstock with no consideration for its possible use in the future.

Peak Oil Dreams said...

True, but they are beginning to see the light. Both the Bath and Bristol lines will have to eventually be restored, unless we're happy to live in a future without any transport more advanced than a horse and carriage. It won't be congestion that brings back the trains, but the impossibility of running a road network once oil runs out. The fixed costs of maintaining a road network may be acceptable now, but once the average person in the street can no longer afford to run a car (possibly less than 20 years ahead) investment will have to switch to rail unless we want the economy and possibly even civilization to disappear.

The important thing is that the S&D makes clear its ambitions now, not wait until everyone's saying what we are! The route to Bath is clear almost throughout, it will cost a lot to reinstate but it will be done gradually and without saddling us with huge interest costs because we won't borrow money to develop the route but probably do a number of share issues - which should pay a dividend. The Radstock-Bath route will be very successful in every way, tapping Bath's tourist potential, linking the large conurbation of Radstock-Norton to the network and allowing continued development in the post-car world. It will also bring in visitors to the line southwards from Midsomer Norton.

To be fair to the developers at Radstock they have polled the public who made it clear that there was little demand for a restored Radstock-Frome (or Westbury) route, what they wanted were trains to Bristol and Bath. We need to listen to our future passengers!

Rockers said...

Hope they are beginning to see the light. I did'nt see much evidence in there interest in potential rail in the future when I saw the western riverside development plans though.

I think yours and the S&D's visions for the future of the line are ambitious, morally/ecolologically sound and exciting. I reckon you could be onto something good, your looking to the future rather than being content to play trains on a hundred metres of track, fair plays. A Bath to Norton Radstock route would be so beneficial in many ways. Luckily the route is pretty clear (compared to others). The housing estate across the line near Radtock station is pretty unfortunate though.

While Peak Oil is increasingly looking like a reality with demand soon beginning to out strip supply.
I still don't think we will see a complete demise of personal transport, yes it will get alot more expensive (Too much for some) but there will be alternatives like bio fuels, electric propulsion etc. But this will make things much more favourable for the likes of the S&D.

With regards the GWR land, while the people of the area are predominantly interested only in rail travel to Bath/Bristol I thought that alot were interested in keeping the land for rail purposes, after all that is the route for Bristol (Whats left of it North from there).

Peak Oil Dreams said...

The houses on the Bath end of the Radstock section of the S&D should be bypassable, or it may be an option to purchase them as they become available. We really would rather not ever have to use the compulsory purchase route although if it did hold up plans for too long it would be wrong not to at least talk about using compulsory purchase.

The development at the old GW Radstock station (if it ever happens!) would not prejudice reinstatement of the Radstock-Bristol route as a new station could be built further towards Bristol near Radco, about where the S&D station is planned. I'm sure that careful grading and sympathetic development would allow a new Radstock station to serve both routes - to Bath and Bristol - in the future. A better site would be between the memorial gardens and the new housing development though, although this would require a level crossing on the Bath road.

I think personal transport in the future will be predominantly cycle or horse. Although electric power (which of course needs generating!), hydrogen (untried and dangerous energy-rich inputs) and biofuels (where would they actually grow the crops and would it even be an energy generator considering the huge inputs required?) are offered by a scared government as alternatives, economically none are viable and all would add greatly to climate change.

I think history will look back on the oil age as a short-lived aberration and the sooner we are over it the quicker we can get back to creating a proper sustainable, solar and human-sized economy and society!