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, April 13, 2010

the importance of modelling

We model all the time. As children it's how we begin to make sense of the world. It's this inability to model which is the biggest obstacle to computers becoming 'intelligent'.

We can model the world around us, we can model a view of the future, the present or even the past.

The most important thing about modelling is that you need to constantly adapt the model to reflect new information.

When we model the past we often succumb to the disease of nostalgia - mainly because by constructing a model of the past we can control those elements that we wish to include and discard those we don't, building a rose-tinged view of the past which, sadly, we then try to apply to the present and future.

We need to hold a model of the future in our minds all the time, because it is the future we will be operating in. Your model needs to be totally realistic and adaptable. Too many people don't actually model any more, they lurch from day to day with a sense of ennui that wouldn't disappoint an emo kid. The anti-S&D mob are like this. Stuck in a permanent 1972 they strike out at a world they no longer understand. If they ever get the upper hand they can do real damage.

My model of the future has to be 100% realistic. I don't see a future for personal road traffic, air travel or a powerful state. I can't see much future for globalisation either. Okay, I've had the advantage of a degree in economics, but most of this stuff isn't rocket science. The future will not be like the past, or the present. Rail has an incredible future, whilst roads (and civilian air travel) will die off. It will take local initiatives to rebuild our rail network, not directives from the centre. Everything I do concerning the S&D is informed by this model, which is adapting and being tested all the time - you should see all the Peak Oil Doubter sites I've bookmarked!

So remember, as well as spending time with your model railways (see - you have all the skills already!) keep building that model of the future in your head. It will stand you in very good stead indeed!
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