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!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

what a difference a year makes!

(Waiting to take the Pines Forward 24.9.1960. Photo by C J Martin, ©  Ian C Martin)

I had great fun reading through a year old National Preservation Forum thread on Clutton (link in the previous post) which degenerated (with no input from any New S&D member) into a New S&D-bashing thread, including claims that I was behind Clutton (I wasn't!) and, the best one, that Peak Oil was 'contentious'.

Peak Oil's not contentious, that much is clear. Oil is a finite resource and is already getting scarcer, and nothing and no amount of wishful thinking, will change that. The only thing that observers don't agree on is the actual timing of the peak. Some say as long ago as 2005, some very optimistic types think it may still be a decade off. Either way the long term view is bleak for road transport, diesel transport by rail, food production, plastic manufacturer and many other things. Some things will be substituted, though only of course by more expensive options, otherwise we'd be using them now. But whatever way you look at it road transport is doomed, the first signs of this process are already clearly visible. Clearly what needs to happen is a big switch to rail beginning now - and this is happening in most parts of the world (including the UK) already. This doesn't mean simply HS lines, but reversals of most if not all of the Beeching cuts, together with a huge expansion in light rail, tramways and industrial and agricultural lines. How anyone could, in all seriousness, exclude the S&D in this process is beyond me! Yet just a year ago we were getting vile flack from a group of heritage steamy types who were clearly mired in the 60s mindset.

Another nasty jibe was that the S&D ran through an empty wilderness with no villages, let alone towns, en route. This particular moron clearly knew nothing about this part of the world! Putting to one side the fact that where a railway runs through is not particularly relevant, it's the purpose it serves and the places beyond the particular line that it connects that are important, this buffoon failed to understand that Blandford, Radstock, Shepton Mallet, Midsomer Norton, Wells, Glastonbury, Wimborne and Ringwood are quite sizeable places which will generate a large amount of freight and passenger traffic. And of course overlooked that we have Britain's only World Heritage City at one end of the line and Britain's premier seaside resort at the other!

But the thing that pissed me off the most was the idiot who boldly announced that he didn't own a car and travelled everywhere by train but didn't understand why the S&D needed to return - that it would be a meandering branch line where the porters doffed their caps at every station and halt! He's clearly been on some very strong and peculiar drugs. So he was happy to use a modern railway because he was lucky enough to live near an open station - but the near two million living along the S&D should not have this opportunity.

I assume that a year on, with petrol approaching £1.50 a litre and Peak Oil on everybody's lips (it's even mentioned in the current issue of Rail magazine) they are beginning to see the light. They may even have joined us in the meantime ...


1 comment:

Knoxy said...

I would imagine that the S&D would have been quite busy this last week ferrying people to the coast from the world heritage city? Much better than the drive in a car, coach or bus! Relaxing in an old style railway coach (hopefully) with tables and windows adjacent to the seats. Now that would be the way to travel?