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, August 12, 2009

busway impressions

I'd promised a piece on busways weeks ago so I thought I'd do an impressionistic piece rather than a straight narrative as a few people have had a lot to say on this.

1. Today, after finishing nights I decided I would pay a visit to the guided busway near the A14. This busway replaced a railway that although closed to freight in 1992 still had track in situ and was reckoned to cost £50m to reinstate for passenger use. Instead the Tories on the local council decided to spend £116 million of taxpayers’ money on a guided busway, which only 4 persons voted for, with 2400 against!

With a spring 2009 opening date, things are obviously not going too well, but as they have spent so much money you will be told how much of a success it is, but my view as you might guess, is that it is just a pile of sh*te. It isn’t a road, nor is it a railway, but it looks more like a plateway as seen in the NRM and tried 200+ years ago. These boffins ought to get out their history books as see what has gone on before. I’m sure this was tried in Devon, a long, long time ago. Oh well, when it snows, floods etc, or the track needs tamping they’re going to find out how bad the whole thing is. All this to travel by bus! Smooth enough to drink coffee onboard they claim? Rightyo? Utter b*llocks there then?

And the freight will still be on the A14? I like trucking!

Anyway, like the open level crossing for the busway? Different rules apply there then? Someone will eventually jump the lights, as per railway crossings!

Ignore the weeds, they won’t grow much ...

2. 3800 voted for the return of the railway, 4 for the buses!


sounds like EU style democracy?

3. When the guided bus nonsense is finally abandoned, I have little doubt that nobody will be accountable for wasting the public's money. I believe that the Glasgow one is now being abandoned -any info? I don't think the Aussie one has been deemed a success either. I have also heard that there was a collision on one (info?) and both rail and road inspectors refused to get involved. Surely this comes under ROGS? 'Rail and Other Guided Systems'? (My italics) I think Cast Iron may well be able to stir things up big-time if there is an incident! But like you say Steve; you couldn't make it up.

4. Apparently according to a comment on your blog, Dunstable is next in line for a busway? Again the track is still in situ.

Do they Tory road brigade feel more threatened by the fact the rails are still there, and they need to deal with these former railways first?

Long term they’ll lose…

5. I got this today Steve. Guess what? Guided buses are excluded. What cr*p! They're guided for crying out loud! Other Guided Systems - Hah!


6. Caught the local news for Gosport last night (Meridian I think it was) and the Guided Bus fiasco has been given the go-ahead there now. The usual crowd of dip-sticks were interviewed for (pro) vox pop, and some bloke who was against it cuz his garden backed onto it, then a huge bunch of 'genuine' antis were shown but none were interviewed to give their view. Biased reporting I think it's called!!

7. Yeh; you're right Steve - the dozy sods try and drive alone railway lines so it's anybody's guess how long it'll be before there is a crash of some kind - head on twixt bus and car probably. Did you get my email re the ROGS? What a bloody fiasco! The guided buses are specifically excluded. Is it guided or what?! There was definately a crash on one somewhere and both road and rail investigators refused to have anything to do with it! Checkout the Glasgow one (found it somewhere on the web) It's being abandoned in favour of a tram apparantly. Incidentally, I've got a funny feeling that the inventor of this has actually come out and said it's a nonsense.

8. http://www.cambridgeshire.gov.uk/transport/guided/

just heard on the local anglia bbc news that the busway is being delayed again and won’t now open until November….

Just in time for a bit of snow hopefully?

My own twopennyworth - This is all good fun - except for those communities that are going to suffer this barely believable misallocation of resources. I think this government, cravenly backed by certain opposition councils, is frightened of what will happen when the hornets' nest of rail reinstatement really takes off, for we are talking HUGE sums of money, and to get that they will have to accept and declare the reality of Peak Oil. We'll probably be drip fed the information, look out for a slight backing away from Climate Change and more emphasis on 'energy security', still a clumsy attempt to cloud the issue but at least a step in the right direction. This will probably all come out when the government (whoever it is) needs to start building nuclear power stations.

Busways will come and go, like monorails and other impractical pretend trains. I firmly believe that St Ives will get its trains back, but they may need to wait a few more years. In the meantime consider the busway as a custodian of the trackbed, a rather more expensive Sustrans!

None of this will affect the New S&D of course ...
Posted by Picasa


Jeff HArris said...

steve, hasnt a guided busway just been given the go ahead by banes council in bath, to run along the midland line from the newbury park and ride to near the centre?

its been refered to as a rapid transit system on the news and mentions it being used by buses so i presume thats what it is

Sunshiner said...

I don't think it's a guided busway but a collection of bus lanes on existing roads, which will hardly be rapid transit as I bet it won't include bus operated green traffic lights. Trams can do this as I think they use a circuit through the rails, but I don't see how road buses could do it.

I've seen a picture of the buses though and they are designed to look just like modern trams, which is hilarious. Talk about backhanded compliments for the form of transport which Bath SHOULD be thinking of!

Jeff Harris said...

you can use track circuits to do the job as you mentioned we do a similar thing using whats called approach control on the mainline, so when a train has to use a junction route that is slower then the main route it is slowed appropriately before the signal will clear.

i was under the impression from what i'd seen on the news that its using the midland railway trackbed from looking at where the route goes

buses could have controlled traffic lights through the use of the same inductors you see imbeded in the road surface on main roads approaching traffic lights.

yamfaz said...

I've just had a thought about the busways and it isn't to do with the system. It is all to do with politics and Unions. A busway can have many buses from different companies where as railways at the moment generally have one operator. And that means one Union, the RMT, and they can shut a system down very quickly, look at what is happening to the trains running into Liverpool Street. There is very little chance of that happening with buses as the staff aren’t as militant as the rail workers and they also don’t have the power to shut down a system.

If rail is going to take off in this country the RMT needs to grow up and not go on Strike, Ever! There are many other ways to show the ‘Bosses’ their displeasure e.g. work to rule, not check tickets, not sell ticket, not do the paper work, etc....

The alternative is to put the rail workers in the same category as the Police, i.e. essential workers and ban them from striking. Heck, it’s in the RMT’s best interest to make rail the favoured option!

So if we want to see railway mile increase in this country we need to sort out the RMT and get them to join the rest of us in the 21st Century and not be stuck in the 1970s. No wonder the Tories prefer Buses they don’t have powerful Union members.

As for workers rights, with more rail miles come greater demand for rail workers, which means the companies need to have attractive working conditions and keep their employees happy.

So to all the rail workers reading this, think about the long term job security before going on strike. The alternative is that you could be a bus driver!!

From a Volunteer Loco Fireman

Jeff Harris said...

Yamfaz, as a rail worker, all be it for network rail, not nxea, when your bosses are trying to make job cuts, destroy your pension, cut your wages by around £3000pa and at the same time make you do more work, you can see why rail workers get annoyed. as maintenance staff we have no choice but to strike.

i understand it to be drivers striking on nxea, and as such they dont have much other choice then to strike either so what can you do when bosses are forcing things upon you that are unworkable.

the best thing to do with the railway system would be to nationalise it, in its current system it would actually operate at a profit as well, as the combined profits of the TOC's last year was equal to the amount of government investment, and once you got rid of all these companies hiring to eachother, and you could take a huge chunk of the office staff away the rail network would naturally sustain itself, and allow for the building of new lines, and prehaps even cheaper rail fares

yamfaz said...

Jeff, I don’t doubt that Rail workers have very few options, but to strike and inconvenience the very people you want on your side is so damaging. And the bosses don’t care as they probably all travel by car and worry about the balance sheet and not the travelling public.

Let’s face it the RMT does have a great PR record, regardless of the rights of the claim. May be an old fashioned go slow or if the trains were to run 5 minutes late or something, except an all out strike.

The travelling public in general don’t care what rail workers earn, all anyone cares about these days is can I get to work to do my job so I don’t get sacked. Because most people, strike action is not an option and most people don’t have a powerful union behind them, they have to sort out their own pension, etc.... Look at the car workers, the BA staff and others all taking cuts in wages and working for free, just to keep their jobs and then look at what the drivers are doing on NXEA and you will see that most of the travellers into Liverpool Street won’t care a thing about the rights of the claim.

I suppose what I’m trying to say is striking wins no friends and only pushes people away from rail and that is not good for any one. A Go Slow is better than a No Show.

Good luck and see you on the New S&D, I can’t wait to swing my shovel :)

jeff harris said...

I understand this inconvineinces passengers, but deep down, the bosses wont care if every train runs 5 minutes late because of the staff, it wont affect them, they'll just have a lil interview with the press where they can say its the staffs fault and make us look bad, the only way they're truly affected is when trains dont run as it makes them look bad.

with network rail when we had strikes last year they were done at weekends this was to reduce the effect on yuor regular traveller who is normally the commuter and more on the network rail bosses, by reducing the amount of work that they could get done and things having to e rescheduled causing inconvenience to the bosses rather then to passengers on the track

yamfaz said...

That sounds like a good way of doing things. Good luck

Anonymous said...

Nice brief and this mail helped me alot in my college assignement. Thanks you as your information.