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!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

paradigm shift

Following on from yesterday's post re 1970s style council dinosaurs, it's clear that not only is a paradigm shift in transport planning required but that it's also fairly imminent. The mixed messages sent by those responsible for transport matters at all levels is a clear indication that things are changing. But of course we are in the VERY early stages of the energy crisis, which has been somewhat masked by the global recession, which is on the verge of becoming a double-dip recession or even a depression. This has helped to preserve fuel stocks and inventories as well as diverting people's attention elsewhere.

To my mind the paradigm shift will take two major shapes. The first will be the understanding that never again will it be so easy - or cheap - to use masses of energy. This will lead to a whole new attitude to energy use which will be based on efficiency and conservation, as well as the search for sustainable and renewal energy. This is being done in a tiny way already, though under the mask of 'tackling climate change', which carefully avoids the much scarier Peak Oil issue.

The second change will be in our attitude to road transport. We are already using cars less, but the biggest change will be the wholesale switch of freight from road to rail. This won't really happen until we're firmly ensconsed in the first stage of Peak Oil awareness, as stated above. There will then be a scramble to switch freight traffic to rail, which will soon run up against the constraints of limited capacity, lack of freight vehicles and locomotives, and the urgent need for a wholesale rebuilding of the network plus the introduction of dedicated freight lines and private sidings. This will be the moment the rail revival really takes shape!

Once this happens people will, after a few golden years of quieter roads thanks to no lorries and fewer cars, question the wisdom of throwing large amounts of tax money at maintaining the road network. Any shortage of funds will lead to massive infrastructure damage as potholes appear. Any interruption in fuel supplies - inevitable in an energy constrained world - will lead to more and more people switching to the certainty of rail.

We see paradigm shifts all the time. The unthinkable suddenly becomes the everday. Who would have thought a year ago that Plan B would switch from the potty-mouthed urban rap of Who Needs Actions When You've Got Words to the sweet soul of The Defamation of Strickland Banks?
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1 comment:

chicofrank said...

Here in south west France just north of the Pyrenees they know which way the wind is blowing. Not content with the TGV line from Perpignan to Barcelona and then onto Madrid in the south, there will be an extension from Bordeaux via Biarritz to Santander (and thence to Madrid) on the north coast. Also a high speed line to Pau from Bordeaux. However the local Aquitaine authority started a new toll motorway from Bordeaux to Pau due to be completed at the end of the year. Best news is the reinstatement of the old railway line up the Apse Valley through the Somport tunnel through the Pyrenees to Canfranc linking Pau to Spain. This area was covered in various gauge lines from the 1800's and many of the tracks and buildings still exist such as from the town of Aire sur l'Adour to the north of us to Toulouse and to Tarbes and Lourdes. On lots of the roads you pass old stations which have converted into private houses. There doesn't seem to be the pressure to concrete over the old stations and build houses or supermarkets on them.