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, November 07, 2009

motorway madness

Austin at Cheddar!

Classic car style.


Midsomer Norton yesterday.

It was quite sad watching the news this week as they attempted to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the opening of the M1. They failed miserably.

Driving is not fun. The average drive is ruined by poor drivers, lorries, buses, tractors, cyclists etc. You are stressed 90% of the time. there's no pleasure in it. It's not cool. It's just a chore.

If anything this event proves that we don't expect road travel to last much longer. They were trying to stir a mix of 'glamour' and nostalgia into something as vile as a motorway. Why apply nostalgia to something that we're supposed to believe will last forever?

I was once accused of being anti-car. Nothing could be further from the truth. I have travelled all over Europe by car and van. I was a professional driver for four years. I probably have almost as many photos of cars as I do of trains! I think the cars of the 50s and 60s had superb design and were great fun. But since then everything's gone downhill. Try as we might we'll never invest cars and roads with a thousandth of the romance of railways. Even the imminent death of cars and roads will not bring about any great regrets. Many of us, remembering hours stuck in jams, displays of amateur driving and having to fork out for repairs etc, will be glad to see the back of them.

Look at the shot of Midford above, then think about the average road. There's no comparison.

So what's my point?

We don't have to live in a world of squalor, poor design, vandalism, environmental damage. These are all choices, made through ignorance or a false sense of economy. If we want it we can live in a world where architecture and modern transport systems combine to give us a real sense of achievement and well-being, where we all work at jobs we enjoy and where we work with nature rather than against it. The New S&D is all about this. There'll be no nostalgia in what we do, no cutting corners and no working against nature. We'll create a sustainable transport infrastructure that people will enjoy using and which enhances the environment through which it runs, much as the old S&D did.
And it will make a profit!
Posted by Picasa


WestfieldWanderer said...

...The average drive is ruined by poor drivers, lorries, buses, tractors, cyclists etc...
Does this imply that you have something against a low standard of cycling, or that you have something against cyclists in general? I ask because I see the bike as one of the most important parts of the future of urban transport.

Sunshiner said...

No LOL!! I didn't mention low standards of anything, except driving.

I was talking as a hypothetical driver. I want to see a network of cycle routes nationally that takes bikes away from cars - for the cyclists' good, not the bloody drivers.

The real point (and I've alluded to this before) is that with the ridiculous closures of railways in the past, plus the switch of freight from rail to road, ALL traffic, of very different types, speeds, width etc have been forced to use the same space. This is NOT progress, but a result of muddled-thinking in transport planning.

I have said many many times that the future of transport is trains, trams, ULR, cycles, horses, canals and walking. Hopefully each mode will have its own right of way.

The conflict we see today is due to the very things I was stressing in the piece. How you (or anybody) could even for one minute twist that into being 'anti-bike' is breathtaking!

Needless to say I see bikes as the MOST important form of personal mechanical transport into the future, both urban and rural. Trains and trams should be for longer distance work and, obviously, for the transport of freight.

This site will always be pro-bike, don't worry!

Anonymous said...

Yes, there's nothing to celebrate about motorways at all.

Especially when you have been tailgated by a 38ton artic a yard behind your bumper at 60mph, flashing its lights in your mirror just because you were foolish enough to let a couple of cars out of a slip road!

And it gets worse when you think that these lorries - too many of them driven like that one - only cover a fraction of the costs they impose on the taxpayers through road damage, accidents and pollution.

Sunshiner said...

My most magnificent experience was in Poland. There was solid traffic on the road, it wasn't moving at all. There was a level crossing ahead with traffic standing right up to where the barrier would fall on the other side. Obviously I kept this side of the crossing just in case the barriers came down.

This didn't please the Russian artic driver behind me who was flashing and honking, trying to get me to proceed on to the level crossing with no chance of clearing the lines. And for what? So he could pull a few metres forward?

This convinced me that allowing everyone to drive is madness. I suspect only 10% of us really have the skills, concentration and experience to qualify us to drive a fast, heavy vehicle on unprotected roads - not just lorries, but cars. ALL freight should be switched to rail over the next ten years regardless of Peak Oil, and the job of moving freight should be left to those with the training and skills to do it safely - ie train drivers.

WestfieldWanderer said...

...How you (or anybody) could even for one minute twist that into being 'anti-bike' is breathtaking!... Be assured, sir, no intention of "twisting" anything. Merely asking a question to clarify the wording of a statement you made.

I haven't read every word of this blog, to be sure, so I wouldn't necessarily know your position regarding bicycles.

I do now. :-)

Sunshiner said...

Sorry, I was sharp and I shouldn't have been. Please accept my apologies.

The future is very much bikes and rail and that will always be my view - don't worry!

Toddingtonted said...

I have to agree that driving by car these days is pretty bad and seems to get worse on a daily basis. The argument for rail is definitely getting stronger and I openly admit to being very dismissive of the S&D revival (other than a small preserved site) until very recently. I just hope we can get train crews to work weekends because First Capital Connect can't seem to! Thank you for the updated photos of Midsomer Norton on the 6 Nov. It is looking good and the track is being laid. Unfortunately you will have to work against Nature (I'm sure you know this bit!) as She does have a habit of sending her vegetation in to strangle everything and rabbits/badgers etc to undermine ballast! However, where the brambles etc are cleared, beautiful grass and wild flowered areas will reappear. This has happened on the Glos-Warks Railway and on many others of course.
I won't comment further on SUSTRANS as I strongly disagree with the way they were favourably treated. In my previous job I cycled to work every day but fortunately much of it wasn't on a busy road! As a car driver, I hate cyclists - not personally - but only because I'm terrified of having an accident with one (so to speak!) so I try and give them I wide berth. I know not all motorists do and my colleague, who cycles 5 miles into work regularly, often tells me horrific tales of the morning commuter's lunatic driving! I didn't know anything about the M1 anniversary so I agree with you - it was pants!

Anonymous said...

The picture of Midford is pure nostalgia. I even like the unclutted road, neat verges and the concrete & wire fencing. No pikey palisade fencing anywhere to be seen, unlike today’s Britain (Chilcompton Tunnel road access as an example). We have so much to admire in the transport infrastructure the Victorian’s bequeathed us, and yet we didn’t, and judging by Leicester City council demolition of the Braunstone Gate GC Bridge (ongoing), still don’t. I would love to see the S&D reborn, and deep down I know I will, because whatever happens with oil, you can’t just rely on one transport solution, i.e. roads. That was the mistake of the past, because somebody (like Mr Marples?) saw to it that everything had to go by road. And this is the view of a petrolhead, who still can enjoy driving, has motorcycles, has driven HGV’s, and started his working life as a vehicle mechanic in the army.
The train is the superior form of transport and is once again on the rise in Europe and especially China. If the Beeching era had never happened here we would all have been better off, even those who never used a train, as the roads would have been less congested. So rail will once again rise here, especially when outside of the control of politicians, so let’s make the Somerset & Dorset the example and support the New S&D, and all groups aiming to preserve the route. United we triumph.
Anyone noticed how oil is creeping up in price again? During a recession!


Anonymous said...

I really like when people are expressing their opinion and thought. So I like the way you are writing