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, February 21, 2007

the swing towards rail

Thirty years ago rail was in decline and roads were in the ascendant. It's taken thirty years for everybody to accept that the reverse is now true. Railways did not close because they had served their purpose but because in the 60s and 70s there was still a cheap alternative - oil. Governments tend to think in 5 year cycles (which match the electoral cycle), the fact that oil would become scarce from 2000 and vanish almost totally by 2030 didn't figure in the Beeching Plan or even in transport policy a few years ago.
Now signs of the crunch are all around - initially increasing congestion as the rail alternatives are not yet in place but economic development continues, the pressure on air travel is growing daily, years before the true economic pressures hit, climate change is accelerating but, most notably, oil/resource wars are proliferating at the same time as the world's big powers juggle for position in the post-oil world, whether it's the US developing (fake) biofuel industries or the BRIC countries developing much of their industry and infrastructure in a sustainable way. Future cities in the developing world are being designed to be car-free - this is not a lifestyle choice but harsh economic reality kicking in.
There's no longer a case to be made for the end of road transport - the case has made itself through the twin perils of Peak Oil and Climate Change.
The actual choice is between two futures - a stay-at-home low activity locally based economy or a rail-based high tech national economy. Globalisation will only survive through the Internet - probably the most important technological development since railways. The probable outcome will be a synthesis of stay-at-home and rail. Economic activity will be based in small cities, market towns and villages with much produced close-to-home, but hopefully with some element of travel and inter-regional trade requiring a dense railway network to carry freight and people. Hopefully things won't get so dull and 60s socialist that travel and holidays for pleasure vanish entirely!
The outlook for the new S&D is looking rosier by the day, and progress on the ground is matching progress in the outside world. It may be thirty years before we can hop on a train at Midsomer Norton and ride all the way back to Bath quickly and safely, but each day that passes brings us a day closer!

No comments: