Welcome to the 'New Somerset and Dorset Railway'
Saturday, April 03, 2010
basic railway? Never!
One of the main purposes of the New S&D is to prevent a rebuilt S&D - now generally agreed to be essential - becoming a 21st century version of the 'basic railway' which was forced on us in the 70s and 80s of the last century. Station buildings, once full of life and the centre of communities, were demolished to make way for vile 'bus shelters' which quickly became vandalised and put off the few remaining customers. Much of the railway infrastructure disappeared as the railways were 'rationalised' in a foolhardy attempt to reduce costs. The measures did of course decrease costs, but they also decreased INCOME, as passengers left the railways in droves as the whole atmosphere went downhill. This was Beeching's true legacy, not so much the miles of empty trackbed but the degradation of what was left.
Look closely at the picture at the top of the page. This is the railway enhancing rather than detracting from the landscape. When Midsomer Norton was in its prime it not only buzzed with passengers but also with staff. Station master, ticket clerk, goods staff, signalmen and other workers. It was full of life, not some dead stretch of concrete with, if you were lucky, a bus shelter 'gracing' the platform.
21st century railways will not make the same mistake. They will be far busier than they've ever been before and will more than cover the costs of running them. Many, many more people wil be employed by the railways and towns and villages will once more have stations they can be proud of, true centres of the community.
Railways are not roads, not decaying stretches of concrete, but the vital links that will keep us going after the end of cheap oil. Don't sell them short!