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, October 24, 2009

The following extract is from an investment newsletter, and shows how Peak Oil concerns have now very much entered the mainstream. Investment advisers, like New S&D promoters, are not affected by sentiment, nostalgia, wishful thinking or their own agenda, but by simple cold hard facts!

There are a lot of possible outcomes from the end of cheap oil. For our anomynous nostalgic chum (see yesterday's post) I've included some pretty pictures of diesel trains, which will of course be one early casualty, along with cheap air travel and road transport of freight, of this quantum shift in transport patterns and infrastructure. The rail future is clearly electric and sustainable (wood burning/wood waste burning) steam. You will only see diesels in a museum.

The Energy Crisis Just a Bit Delayed

Eighty-five million barrels a day.

That’s the most that can be produced. So when recession causes a temporary decrease in world consumption, it can seem like those 85 million barrels are enough. But consumption is bound to resume its upward climb, while those 85 million barrels a day are all we get. The day of reckoning has just been delayed for a little bit. “Can’t we get more than 85 million barrels?” some folks are bound to wonder. Let’s look into that.

Those Stubborn “Peak” Curves

This week I was in Denver, attending the 2009 conference of the Association for the Study of Peak Oil & Gas (ASPO). Despite all the happy talk in the Big Media about how the oil situation is under control, I assure you that the oil situation is NOT under control.The market meltdown and world recession of the past year has bought some time, or stolen some time may be a better way of saying it. All the “peak” curves are still out there, but are merely adjusted a bit to the right on the timelines.

As Marine Corps Gunnery Sergeant R. Lee Ermey likes to say on the television show Mail Call, “Wipe that smile off your face.” We’re staring at an energy problem that’s coming down the tracks like a runaway freight train. It’s just astonishing that more people don’t appreciate the looming impact of Peak Oil.

Meanwhile, the politicians are fooling around with the health care issue. Hmmm... I have some news for them. If you screw up energy, health care isn’t going to matter very much.

Oil Output Not Increasing

It might be a comforting thought to believe that world oil output can increase. Indeed, many policymakers in the U.S. and Europe apparently dream themselves to sleep at night pondering how the current oil volume of about 85 million barrels per day could move upward to, say, 95 million barrels per day — “if only the world oil industry were more efficient.”Yeah, right. Except the global oil industry is not that model of dreamland efficiency. Sure, there are some bright spots. The big internationals like Exxon Mobil, Chevron, BP, Shell, etc. are good. There are some really good state oil firms like Brazil’s Petrobras and Norway’s StatoilHydro. Saudi Aramco is outstanding. These guys are all doing great work to keep the world’s pipelines and tankers filled.

But much of the rest of the world’s oil industry lacks the knack for capital discipline and crisp project execution. Venezuela’s oil industry is a basket case, what with the Chavez-led nationalizations and mass firings of recent years. Output is falling in Venezuela, and this from a nation with among the largest hydrocarbon reserves anywhere in the world.

Mexico’s national firm, Pemex, is nothing but a piggy bank for the politicians, who suck most of the investment capital away from the oil patch and into their own boondoggles. Thus is Pemex walking off a cliff of underinvestment, depletion and decline. According to Matt Simmons, Pemex may not be exporting any oil at all to the U.S. within 18-24 months.

Iran’s oil industry is in a slow death spiral, despite the occasional report of Chinese assistance with field development. Apparently, there’s a “Twitter Revolution” going on in Iran that includes people at the grass roots impeding the oil industry. Well, it worked to depose the Shah back in 1979. Perhaps the Iranians can rid themselves of their mullahs in a similar way.

Next door in Iraq, chaos reigns. According to Matt Simmons, the Iraqis “are in the dark about how to run their oil industry.” The Iraqi oil legislation is so burdensome that almost all players within the international energy industry are spurning Iraq, including the Chinese. Wow. When the Chinese won’t invest in your oil fields, there MUST be something wrong.

And so it goes. The bottom line is that we should expect a global oil shock by 2012, or earlier if global economic activity kicks into high gear. It should go without saying that despite any calamities that may come from such a thing, you would be very happy if you’d taken advantage of lower oil prices to stock up.

(Written by Byron King)
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