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 29, 2009

roads and cars - musings!

Hmmmm - this was the scene from our Geneva hotel window when a Ukrainian coach driver tried to negotiate an impossible corner. It took around 20 minutes and a few squashed bikes to get him out ...

We flew easyJet then hired a car to get around in Switzerland. Normally we'd use the train as it's so easy but because there were four of us this time it actually worked out cheaper to use a hire car.

But we still took the train down to Aigle on the Saturday rather than drive. You can just make out the Leysin to Aigle road below the train here. It takes about four times the distance by road than rail. Imagine attempting this in winter!

A typical road in the UK. This is not efficient. Yesterday some people had to sit for up to six hours on the M5 because some fool had decided the Avonmouth Bridge was a good place to commit suicide. So everything ground to a halt, just as people wanted to get away for the last bank holiday of the year. Traffic was diverted through Bristol causing chaos all over. Today a similar thing has happened because of an accident.

Look at most drivers. They are not capable of driving properly. This country gives away driving licenses too easily. This is doubtless a political decision so there's not too much clamour for new railways - yet.

But as the cost of fuel does what the goverment should have done years ago - drive millions of useless drivers off the road - the clamour will become unbearable. Who will the government turn to first to rebuild Britain's transport infrastructure? Groups like ours that will, by then, have a ten or twenty year track record in the rail reinstatement industry.

To keep on my toes I always read stuff from the other, cornucopian, view on oil. That there is still plenty to go round, and if anything it will get cheaper. (This is a bit like saying air temperatures are falling and glaciers are advancing!)

There was a piece in Moneyweek this week that declared that Peak Oil just doesn't hold up. It goes on to state that there are ten trillion barrels of oil left in the earth, 35% of which should be recoverable. Three and a half trillion sounds a lot, but not when we are using 86 million barrels a day. I did the maths - this cornucopian view gives us 111 years of oil left. But, consider this. I have assumed NO increase in demand, and accepted that this highly contentious estimate is correct. In reality there is probably far less recoverable oil in the ground and demand will continue to rise, especially from China and India, relentlessly. Assuming these more realistic estimates I would suspect that the figure is closer to 50 years. But that doesn't mean cheap oil will be available for 50 years, then disappear overnight. It still means that the crunch will come within 10 to 20 years, pretty much the same timeframe that restoration of the S&D is working on. If anything these oddballs who aren't educated or scientific enough to 'get' Peak Oil can only make things worse by lulling the gullible into a false sense of security.

Anyway, what I'm trying to say is that rail, for many reasons, is far superior to road!
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