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!

Friday, September 22, 2006

working steam and the future

It's funny to think that if we really want to record the past we should be pointing our cameras at diesels, not steam locomotives. Whilst diesel fuel prices relentlessly rise as oil runs out leading to the eventual disappearance of the diesel locomotive (as well as the car) steam will have no problem securing fuel - coal initially but as coal prices rise due to increasing demand then wood will become more and more the fuel of choice, not only for heritage railways but for the non-electrified Network lines.

Wood is an ideal fuel - it is sustainable and if well-managed very productive, both in its growing and burning stages.

There's likely to be a huge increase in the number of wood-burning steam locomotives built in the future, a move we're likely to see first in the developing world (particularly India and China), then increasingly in the US and Europe.

Certainly the S&D should be looking to secure additional land at the side of its route as we expand, to allow us to grow our own fuel for the future. There is little likelihood of a 21st century S&D being electrified, so steam will be the only realistic option.

Rumblings that a good marketing description for the route, once we have a few miles of track, would be 'Britain's first WORKING steam railway of the 21st century' are likely to become louder as we press ahead. Steam won't be just for the tourists and enthusiasts, but a practical and economic way of running the line as we begin to turn into a transport service.

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