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 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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jeff said...

umm steve hate to point this out, but what are we going to make rails from, because from what i know you need to smelt steel, so umm.... that means you need a source of heat to my knowledge

Sunshiner said...


LOL! Who's claiming that ALL energy sources will vanish? We'll use coal, charcoal or wood to smelt steel, the same way we always have.

This daft idea that once oil runs out we'll go back to the Stone Age is hilarious. Remember that railways first came about well before oil or electricity were used.

Railways will pretty much go on as before, though much more widely used and probably a lot more steam (and MUCH less diesel) around.

Anonymous said...

Jeff has a point but as this run down foreign owned country has no industry that is british owned anymore, who is going to build the steam engines ?
Also, all the brains of the country that we had in the 40's, 50's and 60's have gone. We had people who could design planes, tanks, steam engines etc etc that were light years ahead of the rest of the world. But as we sold everything off, well, what can i say.
You ask these kids from university to design something and they would not have a bloody clue what to do. The only thing that they an make is burgers at mac sodding donalds.
We have a long way to go and i am afraid we need to start doing things now before the oil drys up.
Oh yes Jeff, if you need a source of heat, use candles. lol

jeff said...

there is one more point i'd like to make... you also said that the price of coal will also rise very quickly
and according to a source at the swanage railway, the price of coal has risen for them by 50% over the last three years so thats not exactly going to be a cheap solution either

Sunshiner said...


Nice to see your blinkers are beginning to come on!

The proce of coal is increasing as it can in many cases be used as a (dirty) subsitute for oil. China in particular is opening one new coal-fired power station every week, the US is also expanding its use of coal as it gives them a degree of energy independence.

No one said coal would be cheap, far from it. There will be a switch from diesel to steam on many of the world's unelectrified railways, electrification involves hige infrastructure costs and, you've guessed it, the cost of electricity generation will also move in step with the price of oil.

This is nothing new to those of us in the Peak Oil 'community', we've been forecasting it for years, but it's only now, as the person in the street sees it actually happening, that the message is getting through.

The future's going to be an expensive place for us all - and this is just the beginning ...

Sunshiner said...

Sorry Jeff - I meant of course OFF, not on!

David B said...

No one says you have to run a steam engine on coal. There are examples around the world that run on wood, peat and charcoal, and indeed some that run on compressed sawdust or organic rubbish pellets.

Now there's an idea... a rubbish powered train! You can kill two birds with one stone.

Tom said...

Whens this so called new 5AT locomotive going to be finnished that will be an eye opener for alot of people when that flies past at a stupid speed.