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!

Monday, May 09, 2011

rail keeps booming

(Both Bedminster 12.4.2011 copyright Steve Sainsbury)

Rail journeys are up by 15 million in the first quarter of the year compared to the same quarter in 2010. The main reason stated is the price of fuel. This is the busiest the railways have been since the 1920s.

So when will this backwards-looking government start to realise that rail capacity needs to be greatly increased NOW, not simply by putting more trains on existing routes or by building High Speed routes to free up capacity, but by building NEW community railways?  The railways can only get busier as the long term trend for rising oil costs continue, freight will soon be far cheaper to carry by train and supply crunches and rationing (directly or by price) for public petrol and diesel can only be a few years away now.

This is indeed the golden age for rail and it's only going to get better and better!


Chris Warren said...

Hi Steve,

Hope you have a great time in Cuba. Some report published today that was commissioned by the previous Government regarding the railways. It concluded that our rail fares are too high, 30% more than our european neighbours. The author suggested that the whole ticketing structure be looked at again. The blindingly obvious fact that the idiotic system that is used to operate Britains railways needs to be changed was not even mentioned!! We have Network Rail charging the TOC's for track access, the ROSCO's charging the TOC's to lease the rolling stock, multiple duplication of administration, a fare structure that Bletchley Park would struggle to decipher and all the time passenger numbers are increasing. We are, in the next decade, going to have enormous problems with capacity. Like you say, the economics will drive rail expansion. It's just incredibly frustrating having to watch all this painfully unfold.

Chris Warren

Anonymous said...

If the tax was taken off petrol and diesel, the economics of those forms of transport would transform overnight. 65% or more of petrol's price is tax.

Governments are addicted to tax and roads are the best source ever invented. They get no nett taxation from rail - in fact they subsidise it, so there'll never be the same support for rail as road until that equation changes.

Sunshiner said...

Well tax is never going to be lifted, if anything it will continue to rise leading to a vicious circle of increasing prices and reducing tax take as the roads fail.

The tax may switch to rail as the railways get busier, particularly when they start carrying most freight, as profits will then spring up all over the network.

This is a very good point, but the agenda is already beginning to change.

A subsidiary point is that if car drivers start to switch from oil to LPG, electric etc the tax on those will rise, pushing up the cost of road transport.

Of course hopefully as globalisation starts to falter and economies localise government will shrink and the need for tax will begin to fall. This will also favour rail!

Anonymous said...

there needs to be more pro rail politicians somehow sneaked into positions of power