Welcome to the 'New Somerset and Dorset Railway'
Wednesday, January 14, 2009
the future and the much bigger picture!
The route of the S&D is sadly littered with failed schemes to preserve short parts of the route. And in the last few days we've discovered that the Clutton scheme (on the New S&D Bristol route) has also closed down.
Failed schemes include the excellent Radstock to Writhlington line, which had track in place, rolling stock, locos and a thriving membership. Two schemes at Midford also fell through.
But at last we can be pretty sure that at least three sections of the S&D (Midsomer Norton, Shillingstone and Gartell) are now secured. This is no mean feat even for a line as long and popular as ours!
But the secret to further success is to present a new, restored S&D, as a holistic unit. It will need to serve both tourist needs and 'real' needs (passenger and freight), thriving in the very difficult times 'promised' by the challenges of Peak Oil and Climate Change. I firmly believe that a 'real' line will not only preserve 'heritage' aspects, but in fact will find them irreplacable in an energy-restrained world. Manned stations growing their own food which is sold in the station cafe, mechanical (rather than electronic) signalling, mechanical level crossings (whilst roads still survive), numerous sidings, locomotives and carriages rather than multiple units, steam and electric power rather than diesel - all of these things will happen because they are the inevitable outcomes of an decrease in fuel and an increase in labour availability.
As for shunting a few pretend passengers a few miles at twenty mph - that form of operation may survive exclusively for a decade or so more, but will quickly be complemented by real traffic!
More on the prospects for classic heritage operations tomorrow!