Welcome to the 'New Somerset and Dorset Railway'
Monday, January 31, 2011
surprise surpise ...
Rail travel is at it's highest peacetime level since 1928, when there was twice as much route and far less road traffic. Mind you this only applies to passenger traffic and I suspect that freight traffic still has some way to go before it reaches the levels of 1928 - but it will get there and quickly surpass anything seen in the past.
Privatisation was such a good thing for our railways, at last they had proper marketing and a reason to look ahead. Train travel today, if you can disregard the overcrowding which is a symptom of success, is better than it's ever been. Trains are classy, and cheap (if you book ahead). But we are only at the very beginning of the golden age of rail. We need to be opening 200-300 miles of new track every year. There are still far too many large towns not currently on the network, including many in Somerset and Dorset. As the roads vanish everyone will be clamouring for new lines, new stations, more trains. We need to be ready to satisfy these demands, and politicians need to make the right moves now, to ease the transition from road to rail. It's not just the current network, plus reversal of the Beeching cuts (how stupid they seem now!) but a huge expansion in light rail and tramways, plus industrial lines.
95% of people still rarely use a train. That is a HUGE potential market for railways. How many of them will be able to afford to run a car in five let alone ten years time?
These are indeed interesting times to be living through!