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!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

deadly serious

Swanage Railway.

Welsh Highland Railway.

Gartell Railway. (John Penny).

Jinty at Midsomer Norton 2005.

One of the oddest things about all this New S&D thing is that I still occasionally get asked 'Is this a serious scheme?' It's deadly serious. I have studied the economics of Peak Oil, of transport and of railways and I still can't see any way - short of apocalypse - that this can't happen.

Consider two futures. One in which - somehow - economic expansion continues and some sort of alternative/s to oil is found. Roads would become increasingly congested, towns would continue to expand. Already our railways are bursting at the seams - new lines are not just desirable but inevitable. And in this (extremely unlikely) scenario economic expansion could lead to increased carbon output. How long before every government finally 'gets' what the rest of us have for years - that fuel efficiency is one way of reducing atmospheric carbon? Railways are at least FOUR times as efficient as road transport, much more than four times as efficient as air travel (which even in this scenario is doomed). Light and ultra-light rail are even more efficient.

The other future, the far more realistic one, will see economic expansion halt and even contract, and the road system grind to a halt due to a mix of sky-high oil prices, deteriorating maintenance of roads and ever greater limits on carbon output. This could happen over decades, years or even weeks. In this scenario rail expansion won't only be desirable but a matter of life or death, for communities if not for individuals. New railways will be opening everywhere, not just totally reversing the Beeching cuts but reaching places that never got a railway first time round, because in this scenario no railway = no way of continuing as an economic community.

The New S&D has never been about dreams, but more about stopping a nightmare. A New S&D is already needed, many feel that the original line should never have closed, in twenty years time only a few rocking lunatics won't see the need for it.

What we need - HAVE - to do is get organised NOW, develop our networks and contacts, within the rail industry, among local people, at local, regional and national political levels. It will be a struggle to get resources, human and financial. We will be competing with hundreds or even thousands of other routes desperate to reopen before the oil runs out. Serious? You could say that!
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1 comment:

GMasterH said...

If we had people like you in our government we could become one of the worlds leading nations again. You don't care about the costs because you know it will pay off in the long term and You tell it how it is and don't try to mask it with political jargon.