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, January 05, 2011

where the US leads we follow

(Orlando November 2010)

I made my first trip to the USA in November and I was VERY impressed. It was much cleaner, friendlier and, surprisingly, greener than the UK. Dozens of new tram systems have opened up there in the last ten years and rail is seeing a big revival. Most US freight is already carried by rail. The US did of course have a superb rail network - both steam and electric (interurban) until about the 40s, but then cheap oil and the car took over.

Cheap oil is now vanishing and the US is leading the way in the switch from road to rail. See below for a tangential view of this development.

This from today's Whiskey and Gunpowder (an investment site)

Auto-suburbia is losing its utility and its desirability. More from "The
Echo Boom: A New Wave of Market Change":

One overlooked issue in particular about the Echo Boomers will have a meaningful impact on all forms of real estate…they don’t drive.

According to a report by Kiplinger, motorists aged 21 to 30 now account for 14% of miles driven, down from 21% in 1995. As quoted in that report, William Draves, president of Learning Resources Network pointed out, "This generation focuses its buying on computers, BlackBerrys, music and software and views commuting a few hours by car a huge productivity waste when they can work using PDAs while taking the bus and train."

This certainly doesn’t bode well for the automotive industry, but it also may not help real estate strategies that rely on communities and suburbs that can only be navigated by car. The Baby Boomers fueled the growth of cities that revolve around cars, but the Echo Boomers are likely to flock to places where they don’t have to drive every day. This could be a significant drag on low-density communities without mass transit and a boon to older, more compact cities.

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Christopher125 said...

I've replied to your last post on National Preservation regarding the New S&D, i'd like your thoughts on it.

Sunshiner said...

[QUOTE=Christopher125;387886]Surely people who live out in the sticks who are finding it increasingly difficult to afford a private car, and businesses that arent competitive because of the increasing cost of road transport, will move? After all, a large number of people dont live or work near an existing or even disused line and so wont have any choice. With the existing railway network needing to cope with a [b]vast[/b] number of extra journeys, transport costs spiralling and urban centres growing and becoming more congested any money available will surely go to HS2-type projects connecting up major conurbations.

...quite aside from all this ignoring the advances that'll be prompted by increasing fuel costs, and the massive economic and social unrest all this would cause, i [b]still[/b] dont see how it justifies the rebuilding of a cross country line that doesnt go through anywhere with much industry or population relative to the vast cost of building and operating the line.

Even if i went with everything you've written above, with rural and cross-country lines being rebuilt, the vast cost and poor business case for the S&D is going to put it a [b]long[/b] way down the list of potential reopenings - making it so far in the future that the road network will, by your own admission, have fallen apart presumably leaving virtually no industry and very few people along the line.


The two main reasons why the S&D will be well up the list is its use as an excellent alternative route taking traffic away from other routes that are even now becoming congested.

As to the line not serving any large centres of population, well there's Bath at one end and the huge Poole/Bournemouth conurbation at the other. En route there is the substantial town of Blandford, slightly off route but in our plans, the large towns of Ringwood and Wimborne, back on the main line Sturminster Newton, then Templecombe (tiny, but has over 100,000 users on the Salisbury route!), then Wincanton, Shepton, Radstock and Midsomer Norton. perhaps the reason there's not a great deal of industry on the route is that the area is currently not rail served.

The very point of the New S&D is to get the S&D at the top of the rail reopenings list.

The same argument you make could have been made more fiercely for the Settle and Carlisle, with only one largish town en route (Appleby) but with even bigger engineering works, yet it has proved its worth as an alternative to the West Coast main line.

And as for HS2 - will this handle freight? Or local passenger services?

It's clear you favour the apocalyptic future of the peak oilers, so we're really never going to find any common ground. Society and civilization won't fall apart just because the road network does. Remember in the broad sweep of history the oil age will only have lasted 150 years, in a history of thousands.

I'm never going to go down that pessimistic road as I have too much faith in human nature.

Christopher125 said...

Could we continue this discussion on NatPres please? I'll quote and reply to your comment over there.

Sunshiner said...

Of course. Will try to do tomorrow - workload is building up now the holidays are over. Lots of New S&D members, conversions to life, orders etc!

Anonymous said...

Re your living 'out in the sticks' remark, a few song lyrics:
"This is the tale of a market town,
That once had a railway that's now closed down.
Beeching took the tracks in '66,
Leaving all the people in the sticks."

(19:36) Last Train From Devizes

yamfaz said...

May be now is the time to start using the phase 'Community Railway' more as I think it really shows what we and other lines will be doing in the future. The preservation aspect of what are called heritage lines will very soon be augmented by additional services that are aimed at the local community.

The Silver Street bridge project I think is key to this and once it is built, local residence should be offered concessions on trips to Radstock via a Parry People Mover? All that needs to be sorted out here is the cost of staffing as it has to pay its way.