Welcome to the 'New Somerset and Dorset Railway'
Friday, October 29, 2010
the S&D community
There are rumours - probably apocryphal - the an 'important member' of the S&D community recently refused to give an interview with a video company about the S&D because 'everything that could be said about the S&D has been'.
This highlights two big points. The first is that the potential interviewee clearly considers that the S&D exists purely in the past. This is the big fracture between the nostalgists who knew the old S&D and the far bigger demographic that see the S&D as primarily a present and future thing. There is of course a third group, people like me who see the S&D as a phenomena of the past, present and future.
The other point is the ease that somebody like me, who normally detests the PC, modernist and rather lazy use of '(insert anything) community' finds it so easy to use in this case. Because there really is an S&D community, and it's a growing, very cool and dynamic thing. It is very much an idea of the future more than anything. And I suspect that everyone that reads this blog is very clearly a member of it.
There are some VERY silly differences between people currently restoring the S&D. As the New S&D we have kept very firmly apart from this, and always intend to do so. We are a unifying rather than dividing force. We quite simply want to see the whole S&D restored, both as a linear work of art and as a modern, forward-looking, transport system. We can clearly see the benefits of restoring the bulk of the 1950s/60s S&D infrastructure - it will encourage steam specials on the route, will give the whole line a human scale, will increase the potential employment prospects of the line, will allow us to sieze a myriad of profitable opportunities and make people like us! But we also see the absolute necessity of being an economically viable, super efficient common carrier for freight and passengers in the 21st century. As the road network fails we need to be in place, as simple as that. If for the next couple of decades we can ride on the back of the heritage movement as we restore sections of the route then that will help all of us.
You can see where this is going. The New S&D has something for the WHOLE S&D community. Not only can those who love steam and loved the line as it was see that what we will do will appeal to them but also the people who live along the line - who really just want their trains back - can see that we also want to give them that, a super efficient, cheap, climate-friendly and sustainable way to keep moving as the oil age collapses.
The S&D community is HUGE, certainly numbering in the hundreds of thousands, if not millions. It embraces the original S&D community - the workers who knew the original line. It encompasses a good proportion of railway enthusiasts who loved this line, whether they knew it or not when it was running (and where of course I originally came from!). It includes all those people working towards making the UK a sustainable economy. It also includes all of those people in the railway industry who are developing our primary transport system in the 21st century. But the biggest tranche of members come from those hundreds of thousands of people that live along the route and will be the main users of the trains when they return.