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!

Sunday, May 30, 2010

transport of the future!

From Mick Knox -

Will Algae oil be used as Fuel? Not at this price! $300 a gallon....

Last week when on duty at Dalston Western Junction one of the signalling technicians involved with the rebuilding of the line, closed in 1986, commented on the source of algae based fuels to replace fossil fuel based oil. This came about as we were discussing the rebuilding of railway lines and my assertion that for this country to have a hope in remaining competitive it will have to safeguard old routes and eventually rebuild them. Indeed the line from Dalston Western Junction prior to June 1986 ran into Broad Street Station, alongside Liverpool Street Station, and a quick Google search will reveal Broad Street was once a very busy station. Back in 86 a certain Mrs Thatcher didn’t like the railways and the old Broad Street Station closed and disappeared under the Broadgate development. As a long term cost saving exercise I argue this was indeed a folly, because under 25 years later the former trackbed is now incorporated in the East London Line extension, except of course there’s no Broad Street. Indeed a modern day Broad Street station, with the former frontage incorporated in the new office block developments, owned by the railway and providing revenue for sustainable transport, would have been a far better way to have spent the North Sea Oil bonanza.

Anyway, I’m back to oil, and the algae based oils as a possible replacement for fossil oil. Now I’m coming at this with open eyes, as well as being a railwayman I’m also a devotee of the internal combustion engine, especially V8’s...so I would like to hope that I can still drive my cars, bikes, etc in the future, but at what cost? An internet search produces an item advising that algae fuel currently goes for $300 a gallon! There’s going to have to be some development to bring that price down, isn’t there? Are weapons of mass destruction going to be found in Zimbabwe? Because if so, we could invade and secure the former wheat fields for bio-fuel production, or am I being too cynical? If so, the question arises, do we feed people or our cars?

Knoxy at Camden Box, on a nice sunny day...

Incidentally Broad Street once had fast services from Watford Junction and services off the East Coast Main Line, and was four tracks from Camden. How much better than trips round the Circle of Northern line today?

There are real dangers that these quests for a future fuel are taken too seriously. At best they are a scientific thought experiment, at worst they can damage serious attempts to find future fuel sources. The problem of course is one of economics and engineering. These wonder fuels generally do not scale up ie they could never be used to provide anything more than a tiny percentage of what we obtain so easily and cheaply from fossil fuels today. We've heard this week that a scientist has managed to produce a self-replicating form of 'life' and one of the wonders that we can expect from this 'huge step forwards' is that they will be able to 'create' new hydrocarbons from pollution! Great! So we're so desperate that we'll need to create pollution to convert to oil? How sad is that? And, on a more serious level, how practical and economic and undamaging would such a process be? And for what? To further damage the planet and us by keeping the dying culture of private persoanl transport spluttering on for a few more years?

The simple fact is that we had a perfectly serviceable form of fast transport BEFORE oil was even used. As the default option for the future rail doesn't need to be tested, we know it works. If ALL else fails, and some commentators think that it will, then we can still travel at reasonable speeds and carry huge amounts of freight by burning wood efficiently and running at least some of our future transport by using sustainable fuel to power electric trains and trams.

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GMasterH said...

I'm all for burning rubish in power stations and then that helps conserve the coal for other uses (mainly steam locomotive operation) and also the CO2 made from burning the rubish is less harmfull to the enviroment than the methane the roting junk creates. I also thing we should turn prisons back into prisons and not hotels for criminals and make them run in giant hampster wheels to make electricity. I think it's a good idea. Such punishments were used before in the 1800's so why not update them to suit our modern needs?

Sunshiner said...

I'm hoping the wood burning steam technology replaces coal as wood is, of course, a totally renewable resource.

As for prisoners running in giant hampster wheels, unfortunately the extra energy (food) needed for them to do this plus the imbedded energy in the infrastructure in building the facilities and a grid would far outweigh any energy output!

Anonymous said...

I have a MUCH better idea!!

Why not BURN the prisoners???
They are [unfortunately] very 'renewable', but much better calorifically than wood, thus saving trees AND of course coal for our loco's! And we won't need hampster wheels!!