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!

Thursday, May 29, 2008

transition city bath!

It's great that Bath has become Britain's second Transition City (Bristol was the first). This means that very supportive Transition groups are now active at the northern end of the route.

Bath has been quick off the mark and started a blog.

Transition of course is a great supporter of future forms of transport - heavy rail, light rail, tram, ultra light rail, cycling, walking and horseback/drawn.

Hopefully soon Midsomer Norton, Radstock and other towns and villages along the route will begin Transition initiatives. With a string of Transition cities, towns and villages lining the route imagine the potential support for the line!
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Wednesday, May 28, 2008

what bubble?

I had an interesting message on the message board yesterday claiming that the rising cost of oil was a 'bubble'. Sorry to bring economics into this blog, but it is my degree subject and somebody else started it, and I don't believe we should leave false statements unchallenged!

In a bubble demand continues to increase as supply does, demand keeps just short of supply - otherwise of course the bubble would burst.

But look at the Supply Versus Demand chart above (for oil) courtesy Moneyweek magazine. (full article) .

I'd recommend Moneyweek to anyone who wants a fresh view on economics, finance etc! It knocks the staid and leftie Economist into a corner!

The blue line continues to rise, but the red line (supply) actually starts falling slightly from its height in 2005. It may well be that 2005 was the year of Peak Oil - this chart certainly seems to support this.

Even our unelected prime minister Gordon Brown today admitted that oil will now become scarcer and scarcer. This will all have an effect on future government policies, which will inevitably (now the cat's out of the bag!) revolve around increasing public transport provision as road traffic contracts due to the ever-increasing cost of fuel. That can only be good for the S&D. We're not asking much, only that planning permission is automatically granted for rail reinstatement and that the cost of land is pegged so that the reinstatement can proceed quickly.

And for those (non-economists) who insist we'll all be driving electric cars in the future - forget it, it's a pipe dream. Our electricity generating capacity is already under great strain, this will only get worse as oil becomes scarcer and the Chinese buy up all the coal and uranium. There are of course renewables, but these will also be affected by rising commodity costs. If lucky we'll be able to maintain generating capacity, though it's going to be a big challenge and will require about 20 new nuclear power stations. But the idea we'll all be able to drive magical little Noddy cars is a fantasy, cruelly encouraged by the media and some politicians. In any case the road infrastructure itself will begin breaking down soon, as the oil for asphalt becomes scarcer and more expensive, and first lorries, then cars, then buses begin to vanish from our crumbling roads.

The outlook for the S&D has never been brighter.
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Thursday, May 22, 2008

new record prices for oil ...

Motorists faced more grim news as oil hit a new record above 135 US dollars a barrel on supply fears and US economic concerns.

The fresh peak came in the week the AA motoring organisation reported the highest monthly rise in average diesel prices this century - up by 6.76p to 124.17p a litre. Petrol also leapt 4.49p to 112.55p a litre in the month to mid-May.

Crude oil for July delivery peaked at 135.04 dollars in overnight Asian trading as demand showed no signs of abating.

The spike came after US figures showed an unexpected drop in stockpiles, while downbeat growth forecasts from the US Federal Reserve weakened the dollar.

Prices may fall again, but few now expect oil ever to go below $100/barrel again - yet even a year ago $100 oil was considered a fantasy. 10 years ago it was just $10 a barrel.

What this means for the S&D is uncertain. It may mean fewer visitors - though motorists are extremely unlikely to reduce their driving over the short term in response to higher petrol prices, despite all their moaning! They are more likely to cut back on other things. Long term it means a much brighter future for rail generally, as a persistently high oil price will result in people making lifestyle choices that will reduce their dependence on the car - but decent public transport needs to be in place to allow them to do this.

Much more on our associated site ...
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Wednesday, May 21, 2008

S&D - a Polish view

We've had an excellent write up in a Polish railway blog.

After reading about the S&D take a look at some of the other features and see how a blog should look! I spent some time in Poland in 2004 and loved it. We saw the big standard gauge engines at Wolsztyn and were held up by one of them on the day we left at a level crossing - pulling a real service train.
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S&D google map

Discovered via the commemts feature on this site - check this out, a Google map of the route thanks to David B!
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around the station

Excuse the 60s feel to this (apart from my new car!) This was due to the settings on my camera getting messed up. But with a touch of serendipity it does remind me of those fading colour shots from the last days of steam!

A neat little side gate's been fitted behind the up platform shelter.

The greenhouse site has been cleared. Still not sure whether I'll be helping with this, although the bricklaying course is going brilliantly! It depends on other commitments ... but I'm sure whatever happens the greenhouse will be rebuilt this summer.
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Saturday, May 17, 2008


I was down at Midsomer Norton last Friday when John Rideout told me I could climb up the signal to take some photos.

The board was off and the old signal arm was lying in the gravel.

This bit wasn't too bad - I'd got up about ten feet.

But this was as far as I got! I've been afraid of heights since going up to the first stage of the Eiffel Tower ...
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Sunday, May 11, 2008

silver street protection works

Looking fantastic, the Silver Street protection works are now in place, and are as always a credit to the track works gang. Hidden under the neat chippings are the serious sliding buffer protection features which will stop any runaway falling into the road below. Hopefully within a few years all this will be swept away when the bridge is replaced and trains are heading towards Radstock again.

Back in October both the weather and the works were looking pretty miserable!
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Thursday, May 01, 2008

a lesson for us?

Tavistock will soon be reconnected to the network thanks to a deal that will also see 750 new homes built in the town. For just £18.5 million the entire 5 1/2 mile route will be restored with a new station built in Tavistock and a journey time to Plymouth of just 35 minutes. And there is already talk of restoring the whole route back to Okehampton, giving Tavistock a quick route to Exeter and London as well!

Surely there's a lesson for the S&D here? With similar developments planned in Radstock it must now be a good time to tie in restoration of the link to Frome with the new housing development? We are all going to have to use the trains in the future - does anyone still seriously believe that the average person in the street will be a car owner in ten or even five years' time? The railway has to be restored.

More here.
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