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 07, 2010

talking point

The following is offered as a discussion paper - it's come from Nick Howes of Shillingstone. I've not amended it in any way and I'd appreciate everyone's views on every aspect of it!

For there to be any hope of a new railway age, the following points need to be grasped and action taken by the people of Britain:

Rail is a dirty word with public and council transport / planning bodies

Interfering from government bodies and ministers means– short term, political gain

Short term franchises - no incentive for long term planning or growth – old stock simply being replaced, numbers remain the same, overcrowding still rife. Instead of investing in new stock, fares go up to deliberately try and keep passenger numbers at bay with the seats available.

Wasted millions in rebranding rolling stock, uniforms etc

Total lack of bridge maintenance, limited ineffective vegetation management and weed killing, again hands tied by meddlers

Franchise bodies with a conflict of interests, often bus/coach companies stopping stations or services reopening because it goes against the other mode of transport or takes minutes off pathing, where a double or single track station stop would affect an express.

Cycle bodies, supposed guardians of trackbed being allowed to meddle with the trackbed or bridges for access and then the public up in arms when a railway path is proposed for rail reopening.

N.I.M.B.Y.S….. face it people, just don’t but a house near any disused or operating railway, diesel, electric or steam powered in the first place.

Conflict of interest - one half of network rail trying to undo the 40 year maintenance backlog and provide for growth, whilst another half of network rail has the remit of selling off every last currently unused or disused parcel of land for development, prohibiting physical growth of the network, stations or other buildings by the blocking of sidings going back in, single lines redoubled, double tracks re-quadrupled.

Engineering works - slewing of single tracks down the alignment of former double beds, signalling runs etc making expansion prohibitively difficult.

Switch and crossing and remodelling works often to the detriment of sidings, loops etc which don’t get replaced, are then ripped up and said land sold off, overgrown, fenced off etc, further decreasing capacity for passenger and freight, loco, coach or wagon stabling.

Consultants wasting millions telling the people on the ground how to do something, the result being that a good slice of a projects budget goes down the pan before any ground work is done, basically paying someone a lot of money to tell you a job will be too costly for the gain returned and that there isn’t the money; (simple don’t pay these consultants do the job and take on the risk in house! What risk? Any track reinstatement can only benefit everyone time and again!)

Mass early retirement and resignation of loyal railway staff over last 40 years being replaced by anti rail university boys with no interest in the job of running a railway service for the passengers of Britain.
The continued selling off of disused railway trackbed on the basis that it will never ever be used again and is just another brown field site to make a few bucks out of for infill, housing or industrial development. Backhanders to developers.

The insistence, that despite 65 years under investment and meddling, the notion that the railways should be made to pay for themselves as a commercial business and the insistence that the government subsidy should be reduced. This is the worst folly of all, how can the railway expand at all if the subsidy is planned to be gradually reduced? It can only sit still and go downhill even more.

The entire UK new road building programme must be stopped now and the entire multi billion fund ploughed back into restoring the entire railway network of 65 years ago and more, by compulsory purchase and massive investment, controlled purely by determined railwaymen with vision and drive to clean up the nation and get this country back on the move.

The age of the car and 44 ton lorry is over

Every village and town must be connected to the railway.


Anonymous said...

I agree with some of what you say. We need more railways and many lines which closed could and should be restored. But a wholesale restoration of the railway network of 65 years ago wouldn't make any sense even if it were possible. I'd like to recommend Eleven Minutes Late by Matthew Engel which looks at many aspects of the history of railways in Britain. I'd also like people to consider electric trams instead of railways. For many of the routes these would be a far more sensible long-term option and where only short sections of routes can be operated, something like the Seaton tramway could offer huge savings in running costs over a fully restored railway.

Knoxy said...

I'm afraid he is bang on there, especially concerning the consultants and university boys....

Ben said...

I agree with much of the above, the question of course is how you would go about changing such deeply held mind sets?
I also think that unless the BR Board (who still control much of the BR land) and Network Rail stop this wholesale disposal of assets, in a few years much, much more money will need to be spent reacquiring them.
The future is rail (as part of a combined transport infrastructure), whether due to peak oil, environmental damage, congestion or any one of the many arguments. The problem is making people see this.

Anonymous said...

anti rail university boys !
That sounds about right.

slighty off the beaten track, Royal Mail, who can remember donkeys years ago when you could nigh on time your postman to deliver your post at 0730 ?
Nobody has ever asked, WHY does that not these days ?
People always pick on the postman, WHY, he wears a uniform.
How many post office managers(university boys) do the public give a gobfull too ? NONE as they wear suits.
They have never done a round or sort letters etc but they know it all because they read the book and studied at uni.
TPO's were taken away because of these muppets and they got paid a fortune for doing so.
One day this country will wake up to the fact that you need someone to work their way up through the ranks to the top in the company's etc, whom know what they are talking about etc and sort out the mess of the railways etc etc.
Everyone moaned about BR (and their pork pies) but at least there were no weeds on the tracks, buildings looked tidy etc but now, well, it looks awfull.
Trains being over crowded has been an on going thing for years. Cant have double deckers like those in Germany as our bridges are too small !
God i could ramble on here but i hope you get the gist of what i am saying......z z z z z

Anonymous said...

I don't agree with tramways, light rail, narrow gauge etc put back on heavy rail trackbeds. This would constitute a break a gauge, as bad as having to change from standard to broad at gloucester in 1847 for instance; no benefit at all for through passenger or goods traffic. The railway has to be a seamless integrated entity offering maximum benefit to the passenger and private siding owner. Take Radstock for instance; The huge mardons factory at norton hill needs a private siding reconnection, as does the welton bag company, welton waste transfer depot and radco co-op down by radstocks 2 old level crossing sites, although only one station; the S&D site should be reused. Nick