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!

Monday, May 03, 2010

doubt, localisation, squeeze

Doubt - I really do think that the US military's bombshell that Peak Oil will really begin to hit by 2015 with a 10 million barrels of oil a day shortfall has completely changed the game. The days of talk of air expansion, road development, heritage railways and lack of funds for tram schemes are over. Dead. Finished. So where does the doubt come in? I do wonder if we should have started the New S&D five, or even ten, years ago. That would have allowed us to build the team and organisation much earlier, giving us even more of a head start. But we still are ahead of everyone else. The S&D WILL be rebuilt, I've never had doubts about that, but we need to do it PROPERLY. This is really an appeal for everyone who reads this blog (now normally over 200 of you every day!) to get INVOLVED. Send money, join, join the committee, become an officer, press our case wherever you are.

Localisation - an inevitable consequence of the soon-to-be-upon-us energy crisis will be that everything and everybody will need to travel more economically - fewer miles where possible and by rail everywhere. This will mean that a whole range of new businesses will spring up to supply the goods and services that we currently buy from all around the world. Pic 2 is of a cheese press in Cheddar today, notice that it was made locally at Wincanton (on the S&D of course!) And no doubt it could still do the same job today and with no energy inputs. This will become much more commonplace.

Squeeze. How the energy crisis will hit us as individuals is anybody's guess, but I imagine we'll first notice the relentless rise in prices of petrol and diesel at the pump, coupled with the rising costs of gas and electricity. More and more of us will use our cars less and less, and where decent public transport is in place we'll abandon them altogether.

In Cheddar today it was sad to see that everybody was coming in by road. Cheddar is one of those remarkable places that are currently not served by rail. Stupid, as their line previously also served the large communities of Shepton Mallet and Wells, as well as linking two GWR main lines! The line will of course be restored in the future, and I suspect a tramway will also run up to the gorge and even perhaps through it, keeping the tourist trade going.


Anonymous said...

I have a concept of a full project management plan for the development of the New S&D. This would layer and tie up all the project levels, geographically, land-ownership and purchase, legal case management, resource planning, building phases with costs and other aspects. This could enable financial and other efforts to be focussed on a daily basis. I hope that even this little is useful. My personal involvement is impossible at the moment. Maybe sometime in a few months? As ever, good luck!

Anonymous moral supporter in Hampshire

Anna-Jayne Metcalfe said...

That's very interesting. I'm sure I speak for the rest of the New S&D membership when I say that we would certainly be very interested to hear it.

Please feel free to drop us a line via the blog to outline your ideas. :)