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!

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

mmmm ... roads again!

This was the magnificent scene just outside of Midsomer Norton yesterday, as a tractor overtakes a disabled buggy on the main road.

Forty years on from the temporary closure of the S&D this was supposed to be its replacement! After three miles of travelling at 20mph we suddenly dropped down to 5mph before passing this thing. And all this in the 21st century.

The sooner the trains are back the better, so we once again have the option of a fast and environmentally-friendly form of transport over this lunacy.

The problem with roads is that everything is expected to use them - cars, lorries, tractors, bikes, motorbikes, caravans, horses, pedestrians ... the list is almost endless. Whereas the railways always simplify things by separating different forms of traffic - expresses, locals, freight, mail etc. And all operated by professionals rather than half-bred lunatics whose minds are on mobile phones, Kit-Kats and children, anything rather than the road ahead.

Are we really going to have to wait years before we get our trains back? I for one am getting very impatient! Posted by Picasa


Toddingtonted said...

I could not agree with you more but people will never want to go back to using railways as long as they can have the independence of their own personal travel in the form of the motor car. The fact that their "independence" is becoming more restricted with each passing day doesn't seem to have dawned upon many of them yet. I think it will take a long time before people give up their cars.

Peak Oil Dreams said...

Your first sentence sums it up! But of course we won't have the option of cars for very much longer as there'll be nothing to fuel them. It will, sadly, be cost rather than choice that sees millions of us lose our cars. And that day isn't that far off for most of us. The real problem will be that there will have to be a huge construction effort to get railways back in time before things break down irretrievably. And that's why we're rebuilding the S&D now, not in twenty years time!

Toddingtonted said...

I think that your biggest hurdle in making any further lasting progress with the reinstatement of part of the old S&D will be the lack of volunteers to make it happen. Most people in the UK (and especially the media)find any railway network a subject for derision and heritage railways in particular an irrelevant hobby for white middle aged men who cannot grow up (a term often levelled at me!) but that's not to say we shouldn't try to reinstate as much of the line as we can (I am a member of the S&D Society but have yet to visit Midsomer). The S&D should have been saved in 1966, what's left is unlikely to be anything more than a plaything for rich enthusiasts. They will have to be to pay for work that fewer and fewer people can do - as a part owner of a GWR (!) steam loco I know this unfortunate fact first hand. I would love to be proved wrong with the S&D replacing the competing road traffic but I'm happy to see at least that your aim is high!

Peak Oil Dreams said...

I think that if the new S&D was ever to become a rich mans' plaything I'd be the first to leave! A question - how are cars and roads going to survive Peak Oil and Climate Change? Don't reply Biofuel, Hydrogen or Electric as these are at best marginal, most need more energy input than they get out. (See posts elsewhere and on the many Peak Oil websites and blogs). And even if cars and lorries weren't doomed there would still be an increasing share of traffic going to the railways - this is already happening and capacity is becoming a problem on many lines. There's no other solution to building new railways apart from us all retreating to our towns and villages and giving up travel.

And the volunteer thing is only applicable to pure heritage lines - the S&D will employ people as we expand, further tying ourselves into the local and regional economy.

The 'train buff' angle is irrelevant to the S&D because we simply are not that sort of set up. Your best bet is to come down and see what we're doing! Our marketing etc is all geared towards the transport angle, post Peak Oil, and we couldn't have less in common with volunteer heritage lines going from nowhere to nowhere, even if on the surface we give that impression at the moment in a form of simulcra.

Toddingtonted said...

On the subject of Climate Change, there was an excellent spoof full page advertisement for "Spurt", an organisation which supports "unlimited aviation growth" on page 18 of Saturday's Daily Telegraph. It was an excellent eye-catcher for climate change awareness with its "Sod them, lets fly" strapline! I expect "low-cost" airlines were not amused! By the way, peak oil dreams' refers to the oil running out - petrol and diesel prices have dropped significantly around here recently!