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!

Friday, July 30, 2010

the 'milkie' reborn!

(Photos courtesy John Penny)

These photos were taken last Saturday when the Gartell Railway ran a re-creation of 'the Milkie' which used to pass Common Lane at 3.30 every afternoon on its way to Bailey Gate. Tank engine, two coaches and the tanker! It has been John Gartell's ambition for years to do this, so do it - at last - he did. Shot one is in the station ready to leave and shot two a better view of the rear showing the tank of course, as it climbs away from Common Lane station. I've no idea when this service actually finished. Can anyone help here?

It's great to see the Gartell - currently the only operational railway on the S&D - respecting the fascinating history of the original line. The fact it's all on the two foot gauge makes it even more fun! Do try to visit the GLR when you get the chance - it's a real treat!
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Thursday, July 29, 2010

perpetual motion?

Not quite - but a neat way of using railway infrastructure to generate the power needed to run the trains!

(Thanks to David Bailey for the story)

As of Sunday, the world’s largest stand alone integrated photovoltaic project was pumping out power into the grid. The building integrated PV system is located on the roof of the recently completed Hongqiao Rail Station in Shanghai. With 20,000 panels, the 61,000 sq m roof system is expected to produce 6.3 million kilowatt-hours (kwh) of electricity per year, which could power 12,000 Shanghai households.

Hongqiao Station is the newest high speed rail station on the Beijing-Shanghai rail line. The station was completed and operational on July 1st and a mere two weeks later, its large solar system went online as well. Installed on the awnings of both sides of the station, the 6.68 MW photovoltaic system has already produced 300,000 kWh during testing for these last two weeks.

This new solar project is meant as a pilot project to help spur on the advancement of solar power in China as well as to encourage the construction of eco-friendly rail stations that are planned for China’s high speed rail network. At a cost of 160 million yuan ($23.6 million), the new solar system will also help reduce carbon emissions by 6,600 tons and cut coal consumption by 2,254 tons

Sunday, July 25, 2010

step upwards

I've just finished packing and posting all the copies of Right Lines 2 - some of you will also be receiving your membership cards and renewals.

This will be the last self produced Right Lines. Right Lines 3 will be an A4 glossy magazine, in three sections - past, present and future. To fill the 24 or more pages we welcome articles and pictures that can fall into any of the above three sections. Articles on the S&D and the wider rail revival are welcome, similarly pictures can be of the S&D, of S&D locomotives and stock on the S&D or elsewhere, or of similar rail/tram revival projects elsewhere, anywhere in the world.

Prospective issue date will be January 2011.

If any of you would like to take on the role of editor of what will become a very prestigious magazine please contact me at leysiner@aol.com telling me why you think you should have the job!
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Friday, July 23, 2010

perspective - and a new threat

I didn't even realise 'anti-car' books existed. I certainly never expected to read one!

But I have just finished the above. Now, to me, being 'anti-car' is a total waste of energy. The end of the car is now probably less than three decades off, so there's really no reason to waste a minute of one's time trying to hasten the inevitable.

But like most books it did give out some information that I'd never even thought about before. It covers the actual damage and change to our urban, suburban and rural landscape that the car has brought about. Not only the need for roads, but for parking spaces both at home and at work, as well as the destruction of 'real' town centres as out of town shopping areas, really only accessible to cars, became commonplace.

I've never been the slightest bit anti-car, and the book hasn't changed that at all. I'll still enjoy driving for as long as I can. But like most people I realise that the car (and the lorry and bus) are living on borrowed time. The usual refrain that the petrol and diesel-powered car will simply be replaced by LPG, electric and biofuel powered vehicles doesn't make sense as these alternatives will never be anywhere near as commonplace, and nowhere near as cheap, as oil. They are a sop to the simple man in the street, still worried about 'climate change' or 'the environment', rather than the real big issue of Peak Oil.

In reality the cost of running a car, which has been falling for decades, will soon begin to rise inexorably. No one disputes that oil is running out - it is a finite resource after all. The actual timing of the peak is still in doubt, it may have been several years ago, it may be as much as ten years into the future. It will only be clear with hindsight. Once the peak is reached the cost of oil, and all oil-derived products, will start to rise, slowly at first, but at an ever increasing pace.

The outcome is inevitable. As cars become more expensive to run less and less of us will be able to afford to run one. More of us will need to localise our lives and use public transport where available. The tax take from cars will start to fall, less money will be available to repair roads. There'll be a vicious circle of less cars, less money for roads, worse roads, less incentive to drive, more expense etc. I think when the end of the car comes it will all be over very quickly. And there's the threat. Will we be able to build the railways and tramways we need quickly enough? Will the skills, money, material and energy be available?
We can't worry about the wider picture though we obviously need to be aware of it. We can only concentrate on our small part of it. It is so important to get everything in place NOW so that we are prepared and ready to act when the decline comes. If in the meantime we can buy up trackbed, stations etc, and operate some sections of the route then all the better. What we are doing is so incredibly important, it's impossible to overstress our case.
There will be big news about the S&D over the next few months with the purchase and restoration of Midford, hopefully the restoration of Spetisbury, the launch of our new glossy Right Lines and a big media push. As always I'd like anyone who would like to take a more active role in what we're doing to contact me at leysiner@aol.com
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Wednesday, July 21, 2010

S&D event this weekend

GLR Steam Show 2010

The weekend of the 24 & 25 July, the Gartell Railway will be holding their Steam and Vintage Show. Open from 10.00 both days. Steam traction on the rail & road. Stationary engines, tractors, cars, motor bikes, commercials, displays including model boats on the lake, crafts, licenced bar, hot and cold food from the Pines Buffet, train service on the Gartell Light Railway both days. Come and relax by the lake and watch the boats and trains pass you by. Hope to see you there. Free car park. Admission by train ticket (on the gate)

Please pass this on to everyone who is within 50 miles of Templecombe - thanks!!
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Tuesday, July 20, 2010

bloody know-alls!

Take a look at the picture above. It's a very nice atmosphere shot of the Wisbech and Upwell Tramway, in Wisbech. This is from the book 'The Wisbech and Upwell Tramway' by Chris Hawkins and George Reeve, published in 1982.

1982 was close to rail's lowest ebb in the UK. Even many rail enthusiasts fell for the con, others simply loved the 'romance' of closed lines and really believed that once closed a line would stay closed forever - regardless of the future of roads!

The interesting part of the above picture is the caption. Not sure if you can view it clearly in your browser, but the last line of text reads - Rails in the street are now largely unknown in this country and their like will never be seen again.
Hmmm. Just a few years later rails started appearing in the streets of Manchester, Sheffield, Wolverhampton, Nottingham and Croydon. And in a few months time not only will the streets of Porthmadog contain rails, but will see regular, daily STEAM trains running down 'em.

So when someone tells you 'The S&D will never reopen' remember the absolute certainty of the Wisbech and Upwell statement above. Not only will rails in the street become commonplace throughout the UK, of all guages, but many industrial concerns will run street lines connecting the factory to the network, most towns above 100,000 population will have street-based tramways, smaller towns and villages will have ultra-light rail, interurban street and roadside tracks will litter the countryside and the street railway will become more common than it ever was.

And, of course, the S&D will not only be fully restored but will probably have a dozen of more street-running tramways and light railways connecting to it, not to mention the industrial lines!

I even think the Wisbech and Upwell tramway will be restored!
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Wednesday, July 07, 2010

The second best job in the world?

With Midford now under our ownership we are looking for a special person who can oversee the reconstruction of the station and signalbox, a Midford Station Project Manager. You'll get the full physical and financial support of the New S&D and we'll be launching an appeal shortly to raise ringfenced capital to rebuild. We'll also be starting work parties soon.

You need two main qualifications for the job -

membership of the New S&D

masses of enthusiasm

Obviously building skills are useful, but enthusiasm is more important as there will doubtless be people with the skills available.

This is a fantastic opportunity to get in at the ground floor of the most exciting rail restoration project in the world. It's an unpaid voluntary position which shouldn't need more than a few hours attention each week. It is a board level position within the New S&D, and you'd be offered a directorship of Wessex Links Ltd if interested.

Please email me at leysiner@aol.com if interested.
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Saturday, July 03, 2010

transport - past and future - in bratislava and vienna

Bratislava's latest metre gauge trams - though 90% of the fleet seem to be at least 20 years old.

Communist-era bus station.

The hydrofoil from Bratislava docks at Vienna.

The most elegant way of getting round Vienna!

Well and truly back from our visit to Bratislava in Slovakia. An absolute gem of a city and recommended to you all! It's so compact that you just need a pair of feet to get around.

But Bratislava has a superb public transport system, which we did dip in to. The backbone is, of course, the impressive tramway system. It reaches most parts of the city on the north bank of the Danube, with the longer lines almost taking on an interurban nature. Very fast, cheap and amazingly busy. There are also trolleybuses, a form of transport which surely will make a huge comeback in the UK on routes that are not quite busy enough for trams. And those old dinosaurs, buses, although the newer buses aren't bad at all.

Bratislava is only 64km from Vienna and will soon be reconnected by tram - there is only a 7km gap on the interurban from Vienna and the southern Bratislava suburb of Petr┼żalka, which will soon have it's own high speed tramway into the city. But for now there's the fantastic Twin Cities Liner hydrofoil which links the two cities in just 75 minutes via a very scenic and fascinating trip up the Danube.

Vienna of course is home to the world's second largest tramway network. But the only transport we used in Vienna was the fiacre - the famous horse-drawn carriage. This was a great experience and could quite well become a model for future road based transport, as the carriage was very well appointed!
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