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, May 23, 2007

the future's bright, the future's wood ...

Yes! At last the wider movement is beginning to appreciate the value of wood as a fuel source for locomotives in an oil-less and coal-less future. This month's Steam Railway (June 2007) carries a five page article on wood burning, looking at the Kielder Railway and the wider picture. Good news is that some types of wood have almost as high a calorific value as coal, bad news is that locomotives that were built for coal don't take to wood - but that doesn't rule out some sort of reasonably cheap conversion - we did it with leaded to unleaded petrol.

The simple fact is that in a warming world burning coal for what's seen essentially as 'pleasure' will become frowned upon. Coal will also become very expensive as the last mines are emptied at a rapid pace to keep up with the demand for energy generation. Everyone will be looking to wood.

Wood has huge advantages - it can yield a very good harvest in a relatively small area as it grows upwards, it can be grown locally to the railway (very cheap transport costs), it is carbon-neutral provided enough is planted to cover burnt stocks and it can grow very quickly - up to 9 feet a year for eucalyptus.

The downside is that land values will probably rise as more and more is needed for harvested forests - so heritage lines should be building land purchase for forests in their business plans now, not in 20 years time!

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