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!

Saturday, August 08, 2009

rail v road

I have been reading a fair bit about Peak Oil etc lately but have a question for you. If electric cars are a bit of a con, how are we going to run trains in the future? I ask, as electric trains seem to be the only way forward [ ] with big electrification schemes coming to fruition.

It's a question of scale and efficiency. I read somewhere that to actually replace our entire car fleet by electric cars we'd need to increase our electricity generating capacity fourfold.

Trains of course are far more efficient for two reasons. Because of the lower friction of steel rail on steel wheel they use energy four times as efficiently. They can also get their supply via third rails, overhead, stubs, conduits etc. They don't need to carry the extra weight of batteries or all need recharging at the same time (overnight mainly in the case of cars).

The other problem for cars is that road surfaces need constant repairing using asphalt, which is oil based. As the price of travelling by car increases less and less people will be able to afford to run cars. This will decrease the tax take, which will probably mean higher road taxes, driving even more people off the roads. If the government try to shift the cost of keeping roads open to the general taxpayer, most of whom will never use roads, they will face huge opposition. Of course the cost of maintaining roads will increase despite the general reduction in traffic levels as the cost of asphalt will be directly connected to the price of oil. All this will be in a background where the future will mean less and less oil.

We'll see a wholesale shift to rail transport both due to government policy and the inability of most people to afford to run a car. The expansion of the rail network will of course mean even less electricity available to the car driver and at the end of the day any government will take the strategic decision to support rail over road, particularly as freight will be switching to rail in huge quantities. I can't see successful electric artics ever working because of the weight of the batteries needed to haul, say, 40 tonnes. Unless they start wiring up all the roads of course, but what would be the point? They may as well then convert them all to railways, to get that 400% efficiency gain!
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