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, October 06, 2010

influence ...

A big part of what the New S&D will be doing over the next decade is influencing decision makers to regard rail as the primary mode of travel for the future, in tandem with cycling, walking and horseriding. Whilst the biggest influence will be the rising cost and falling availability of fuel we all also have our part to play in changing the mindset of the people in 'power'.

The following is from Sustrans, a group we'll always be working very closely with.

Influencing local transport plans in England
English local authorities outside London are currently preparing their Local Transport Plans (LTPs), which will influence how people travel for years to come. Looking forward to potential local transport budget cuts of between 20 and 40 per cent, and a shift in power towards local communities, this is an opportunity for cost effective sustainable transport solutions to be put in place. Local authorities should be prioritising value for money initiatives that get more from existing transport networks, whilst extending travel choice by investing in smarter travel, walking, cycling and public transport.

The evidence is that, with the right investment, travel choice can be significantly increased. In the
Sustainable Travel Towns, car driver trips per resident fell by 9% between 2004 and 2008, whilst cycle trips increased by 26-30% and walking by 10-13%. Research in 2004 showed that the potential for change is even greater: nearly two thirds of all journeys could be made by foot, bike and public transport under existing conditions, and even more with better infrastructure and integration with public transport. The greatest potential for change lies in increasing cycling, providing a viable alternative to nearly one in three local car journeys.

Many of our national transport challenges could be tackled if local transport spending was focussed on enabling people to make smarter travel choices. In Sustrans view, an LTP that is fit for purpose will set ambitious targets for changing travel behaviour,
doubling the number of local trips being made by foot, bike and public transport to 4 out of 5. This means focusing transport investment on low cost, high value measures:

area wide 20 mph zones so that people feel able to walk and cycle more from their own front door

smarter choices measures including personalised travel planning to give people at home the information and advice they need to leave their car behind

high quality walking and cycling networks to provide local routes to everyday destinations and public transport hubs

programmes to give children and young people the knowledge, skills and confidence to travel independently to school and for other local trips

better public transport, including demand-responsive services in rural areas, and improved integration between buses, trains, walking and cycling.

The new LTPs have to be in place by April, and although consultation is ongoing in many areas, detailed plans are unlikely to be finalised until the outcome of October's comprehensive spending review is known. Sustrans local staff are monitoring the development of LTPs. To get involved
keep an eye on the transport section of your local authority website and let your local authority know what you think.
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