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, March 30, 2011

ostriches, dinosaurs or just plain mad?

 (Photo Swaythling 1965 copyright Rail Thing)

A magnificent piece of daftness (via the EU) in yesterday's Telegraph (thanks to Anna and Debs for finding this).

EU to ban cars from cities by 2050

Cars will be banned from London and all other cities across Europe under a draconian EU masterplan to cut CO2 emissions by 60 per cent over the next 40 years.

Top of the EU's list to cut climate change emissions is a target of 'zero' for the number of petrol and diesel-driven cars and lorries in the EU's future cities.

The European Commission on Monday unveiled a "single European transport area" aimed at enforcing "a profound shift in transport patterns for passengers" by 2050.

The plan also envisages an end to cheap holiday flights from Britain to southern Europe with a target that over 50 per cent of all journeys above 186 miles should be by rail.

Top of the EU's list to cut climate change emissions is a target of "zero" for the number of petrol and diesel-driven cars and lorries in the EU's future cities.

Siim Kallas, the EU transport commission, insisted that Brussels directives and new taxation of fuel would be used to force people out of their cars and onto "alternative" means of transport.

"That means no more conventionally fuelled cars in our city centres," he said. "Action will follow, legislation, real action to change behaviour."

The Association of British Drivers rejected the proposal to ban cars as economically disastrous and as a "crazy" restriction on mobility.

"I suggest that he goes and finds himself a space in the local mental asylum," said Hugh Bladon, a spokesman for the BDA.

"If he wants to bring everywhere to a grinding halt and to plunge us into a new dark age, he is on the right track. We have to keep things moving. The man is off his rocker."

Mr Kallas has denied that the EU plan to cut car use by half over the next 20 years, before a total ban in 2050, will limit personal mobility or reduce Europe's economic competitiveness.

"Curbing mobility is not an option, neither is business as usual. We can break the transport system's dependence on oil without sacrificing its efficiency and compromising mobility. It can be win-win," he claimed.

Christopher Monckton, Ukip's transport spokesman said: "The EU must be living in an alternate reality, where they can spend trillions and ban people from their cars.

This extraordinary article opens several tins of worms!

What sort of idiot seriously believes that in 39 years time there will still be any petrol or diesel powered cars? We will be well down the depletion side of the Peak Oil bell curve by then with conventional (and in my view all) cars just a distant memory. What on earth is the EU doing wasting time on forecasting that far ahead, particularly without any reference to the realities of energy-depleted Europe? And why do the spokesmen make even bigger fools of themselves by engaging with this Dan Dare nonsense?

If this is the level of intellectual and factual input employed by EU decision makers then they are more decadent and irrelevant than even I thought!

Go back to your silver space suits, food in a tube, individual jet pack and colonies on Mars fantasies boys and girls. Out here in the real world we'll get on with real planning for a real future and get the railways back before it's too late!


Anonymous said...

I think there's a danger of over reaction to this. It's good that the EU is positive about sustainable transport, irrespective of your views about the nature of the organisation itself. Moreover it's right that they should consider a future without cars and cheap mobility, so what's the fuss?

It seems to me the EU is being positive about engaging with the issues of long term oil supply - I consider their ideas a good basis for discussion, which will benefit from greater awareness of peak oil issues, but it's hardly ostriches and dinosaurs.

It's not pie in the sky either, because we all know that modal shift is a large scale issue and will take time. It's pretty clear to everyone how far the UK government has got in reducing car use since it stopped predicting demand and providing capacity in the early 1990s: nowhere. OK, so peak oil may/will speed things up but in the end it will just enforce the oil price rises in a different way to the EU's planned taxation, resulting in a similar situation.

It's a shame, though, that the Telegraph lowers the standards of journalism by quoting unrepresentative and trivial niche groups like ABD (and UKIP?) when they could ask some qualified industry or professional groups.

Sunshiner said...

Yes, I thought it was sad that the only quotes they could get were from backwards looking fringe nutters - obviously everyone else had far more important and relevant things to talk about. Shame they didn't ask me for a quote!

The Eurocrats who believe that there will still be petrol and diesel cars in 2050 surely have a lot more in common with UKIP and car driver groups than they realise!

will said...

I completely agree with the fist post here - its great that the EU are looking to the future and trying to plan for a car free future, and get some concrete progress going, and it is a shame our government voted against the proposals (under pressure from the Torygraph et al).

Sunshiner said...

Reading it again and bearing these comments in mind I think this is a classic case of a newspaper pitching the story in such a way to make it read almost the opposite to what is actually being proposed. Never having been a Telegraph reader for obvious reasons it took a while to get this!

No doubt a read of the whole proposal would show how the EU are thinking the future through - and no doubt the sense of such a proposal would have been way over the average Telegraph journalist and reader's head!

Certainly the proposals for the winding down of short haul flights and the pushing of rail travel for these journeys has to be a good thing, but this will all happen in any case as a reaction to the price signals that will arise as Peak Energy hits harder and harder. Personally we're already planning a future where we'll hardly fly at all and where the train will be our normal form of transport to get anywhere, not just on holiday! But there's going to have to be an awful lot of new infrastructure (ie new lines, not just improvements to existing routes) before that becomes the norm.