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!

Monday, October 26, 2009

quick return to palma

Traffic filled streets - this one seen from a passing train!

Typical off peak loading on Palma buses.

Electric traction is already in Palma - this is the very recently opened metro railway in the Placa D'Espanya.

Yet another packed bus!

Apologies for returning to Majorca whilst in the midst of a New S&D roll, but if I don't do it now I never will!

The buzz in Palma is that tram construction will start soon. Spain has been opening new tramways at a quickening pace so Majorca's missing out a bit. The Government of the Islas Balaeres decided years ago that they were going to switch from a road-based to a rail-based economy, solid evidence of this shift are the reopened railways to Manacor and Sa Pobla (see earlier post) and the brand new Metro to the University, as well as the amazing rail/Metro/bus/future tram station underneath the Placa D'EspaƱa.

The first tramways will be from Palma to the airport and to Arenal. We stay in Arenal - probably the only Brits to do so as it is otherwise 95% German and 5% Dutch - so this line will be very useful to us. There are regular buses to Palma, via the backstreets(15) and motorway (25), running every ten minutes or so, but they are hopelessly crowded. As most of the users are holidaymakers they don't have access to cars so the bus is essential (and very cheap). And the Dutch and Germans love their trams!

Once buses reach this level of capacity - that's full to standing every five minutes (taking into account both routes) - then trams become the obvious solution. Of course they are also more 'environmentally friendly' as there's no pollution from the vehicles themselves, giving a cleaner atmosphere. They are also seen as modern and classy as opposed to the old, smelly and 'common' buses. Majorca should have little difficulty generating most of its energy needs from solar power as otherwise it's quite vulnerable to energy problems as a small island. This was probably also behind the government's transport strategy, even if not overtly stated!

Majorca does of course already have a tramway, at Soller, so it's hardly an alien concept. Palma itself had a decent tramway network until 1959 when it was abandoned in the rather strange atmosphere of the times.

I suspect that when the tramway is built, and construction is due to start very soon, other areas around Palma, and I'm thinking particularly of Magaluf, will clamour for theirs. I've already decided not to return to Majorca until there are new railways and tramways in place to tempt me back!

One last post on Majorca to follow very soon, then I promise S&D stuff - at least until I go away to Barcelona in February where, surprise surprise, there are new tramways ...
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