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!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

the future of air travel

This is the Boeing Dreamliner 787. 'Dream' liner is very appropriate. It's being marketed as 'the future of air travel'. LOL! It's claim to this status is that due to the lighter metal being employed it will use 20% less fuel! And what magical 'fuel' is it going to use? Nuclear? Steam? Electricity? No ... good old fashioned (and in the medium term extinct!) kerosene.

So what's the real future of air travel? The picture below says it all!
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Anonymous said...

I want to be able to travel by air in the future. i do not think a train is going to take me to the USA or other long haul destinations anytime soon. I want to be able to travel by rail on a reinstated network too but I don't consider the two are mutually exclusive. Don't forget that the railways are heavily reliant on diesel oil as well as the air travel industry and the motor industry (although i have just acquired an electric car which is brilliant). the comments about the decline in air travel are maybe counter productive save for short haul flights which will inevitably be supplanted by high speed rail. Better to combine rail and air by having decent rail access to major long haul airport hubs. There is still no direct line from southern England to Heathrow. That must surely be the focus.

Sunshiner said...

I think you're missing the point. I travel loads by air now because I know that in the future it will no longer be an option. It doesn't matter how much we want it, the fuel will not be there. We are already seeing the slow death of air travel, and I can't see any possibility of it reversing. Once fuel prices double or treble - and that's just the start - most of us will simply no longer have the option. As air travel starts to wither the infrastructure itself will come under pressure, fuelling further decline. There's nothing we can do about it. The Glasgow air link has already been abandoned. To even think of building railways to airports is a gross misallocation of resources, which we simply can no longer afford. It is vastly more important to reconnect towns, villages, farms, markets and industries, and of course ports, to each other.

I'm not really sure how my comments about air travel are counter productive - there's nothing I - or anyone else - can do to influence it!

We've often addressed the issue of oil for railway fuel, and have forecast the end of diesel traction. That's why the New S&D will only look at sustainable forms of power generation ie electricity and wood-burning steam.

Anonymous said...

Wood Burning Steam? Is that what the locals at Spetisbury said they didn't want? Havn't you already stated we are not a heritage railway (minus a few stem specials) If you are going around saying we will be using wood burning STEAM then people are going to think we are a heritage railway and how long does it take the bluebell to dig out Imbohourne (spelling?) tip?
It will take us a much shorter time if people think of us as a new railway. The reason is that people want to get to places quickly they are never going to consider supporting a heritage railway. As even if we run trains faster the general stereotype for a heritage railway is slow (5-10 mph on bluebell). I'm not against a few steam specials (I like steam) but if we are going to rebuild the entire S&D we can simply not use steam as a general service. (IF of coarse we are not using steam as a general service then i am sorry, but coud we make it clearer?

Sunshiner said...

Again, this has been comprehensively covered in earlier posts. We are not and never will be a heritage railway. In fact I don't believe that heritage railways per se will exist in 20 years' time. The New S&D will exist to provide a passenger and freight service, principally for the people and businesses en route though obviously we will also develop traffic off route that uses the New S&D. This includes steam specials. The hope is that the line will be electrified and most would prefer third rail as it is the cheapest and least intrusive option. But if any sections remain unelectrified then diesel will of course not be an option. This only leaves a form of steam (or, pushing the point, horse power!). 21st century steam will be nothing like 20th century steam, it will be super modern and efficient and, to be sustainable, will burn wood. It would be unwise of us not to look at this as an option. Remember nuclear power is steam power!

I do take your point that this needs to be carefully explained, although if there's a blanket objection to steam, which I find highly unlikely, then surely that would extend to traditional steam specials, which we, as a profit-making business, want to encourage to bring in additional cash flows. I don't expect wood-burning steam to be properly researched for may years yet, as the economic pressure to do so is not yet visible, but however it develops it will be incredibly modern and sleek. Even the mythical 'Disgruntled of Spetisbury', left with the option of no transport or modern transport, would have to accept its existence!

Oh, and the New S&D will be anything but slow! Electric trains ignore gradients, which was the problem with the old line, and as a double track route with passing loops, there will be a mix of expresses (passenger and freight) and local trains, with the occasional steam special.

Is this more precise view of the New S&D more in keeping with your hopes for it? This is what we have been saying from day one, but operhaps the detail is buried in the myriads of posts that appear on this blog. The leaflet distils this clearly into a few pages.

Toddingtonted said...

There is research going on into alternative fuels for aircraft but it is a fact that currently Jet A1 is the main fuel type. The Boeing 787 Dreamliner is not a very good example to quote of a "declining" aviation industry as, as aircraft designs go, it is designed to be very much more fuel efficient and to have extended range (ETOPS) for those "long thin routes." However, I agree that for many short haul trips, the train is the best bet and, in the future, probably the only bet! However, I bet some Eurostar pax wouldn't agree with this at the moment!

Sunshiner said...

It's good that the Dreamliner is designed to be more fuel efficient but you need to ask yourself why this needs to be done except in a declining industry where costs need to be cut. The CO2 story doesn't cut any ice with me because as far as I'm concerned it's just a cover story for Peak Oil. The simple fact as always is that any alternative to aviation fuel will inevitably cost a lot more - otherwise we'd be using it now. That suggests that costs to the consumer will continue to rise and that the Easyjet model (which I love!) hasn't a long shelf life. Once cheap air travel declines then the huge infrastructure maintenance costs will begin to also load costs onto an airline industry that will probably be in even deeper crisis than it is now. Once again this doesn't suggest a thriving industry with a future, but one that has huge problems already built into it. The huge pension defecit at BA is terrifying. This is why I fly as much as I can at the moment - do it whilst I still can. I'll miss it terribly, but that's not enough to save it. It's sad but once you take an agenda-free look at the future it doesn't look great for anything except rail.

As for the Channel Tunnel - surely the engineers should have factored this in at the design stage, the weather wasn't that extreme, or the operators have stand-by diesel or steam locos ready to rescue any faled electric units. Hopefully that will happen in the future!