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, July 13, 2011

hard figures

(Bristol Parson Street 21.6.2011 - copyright Steve Sainsbury)

I was googling 'reduced traffic levels fuel prices' but soon reached this which is a useful chart of energy efficiencies. Some of the text also underlines what we've been saying for years!

Transport - source

At the end of 2002, the UK government admitted that its target reduction of 6% in road congestion by 2010 would not be met. The increase in road use was explained by the growth in the economy. The number of new car registrations peaked in 2003 falling by 7% by the end of 2007. The number of commercial vehicle registrations, remained virtually at the same level from 2004 to the end of 2007. Bus and coach registrations peaked in 2006, falling 6% by the end of 2007, bringing the total vehicles on UK roads to around 31 million cars and 4¼ million commercial vehicles.

To control congestion local authorities have been granted powers to apply various charging schemes to limit traffic in cities and in London a successful scheme was introduced. Perhaps if the fuel escalator tax had not been abandoned in 2000, but had been increasingly applied, sales in cars might have fallen and congestion restricted by higher costs. Indeed, the escalator could have been ramped up until it had a demonstrable effect on congestion. However, it has been suggested that it would take an increase of 5 times in fuel prices to make a noticeable effect on road use. The fall in new car registrations over the 5 years to 2008 was probably due to lack of road space more than high fuel prices.

But air traffic has increased and the skies are also congested, while the railways struggle to cope with more passengers than their carrying capacity. Two of the three principle forms of transport currently rely on oil-based fuels, the amount of which is finite. By consuming fuel at an ever increasing rate, the time when the roads and skies will empty is brought forward. Congestion will be exacerbated by increases in road and runway capacity, but will eventually be relieved when the fuel sustaining it runs out. Paradoxically the very increase in demand encouraged by road and runway building will bring forward the final turn-down, leaving empty motorways and abandoned airfields. The exception to this is the railways which could eventually be powered by sustainable wind and tidal power.

Comparison of surface transport motive energy efficiencies

Before considering various forms of transport, it is useful to estimate the relative efficiencies of those operating on the surface, i.e., roads and railways (including trams).

<><> <><><><> <><><><> <><><><> <><><><> <><><><> <><>
MethodOverall %
Renewable electricity -> Transmission 90% -> Electric traction 85% (Rail and tram)76
Diesel -> 46% ->Electricity 90% ->Electric traction 82% + 21% (Diesel-electric-battery train) *55
Diesel engines; Average 46% (Road and train) 46
Diesel -> 46% -> Electricity 90% -> Electric traction 82% (Diesel-electric train) 34
Petrol engines 30-38%; Average 34% (Road)34
Fossil fuels -> Electricity 40% -> Transmission 90% -> Electric traction 85% (Rail and tram)30
Renewable electricity -> H2 44% -> Fuel cell 40% -> Electric traction 85% (Road)15
Fossil fuels -> Electricity 40% -> Transmission 90% -> H2 44% -> Fuel cell 40% -> Electric traction 85% (Train) 5

* Hitachi diesel-electric multiple unit with battery storage enabling regeneration

From the above rough estimated stage efficiencies, it is evident that rail and tram make the best use of renewable sources of electricity, whereas the use of hydrogen as a "mobile" fuel able to be carried on a vehicle is the least efficient. It is also evident that renewable electricity offers 2½ times more useful work energy that the primary energy used for fossil fuel electricity generation.

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1 comment:

Brian said...

What politicians & economists call "fuel poverty" considers only domestic heating including electricity, bulk of which comes from the very same fossil sources this blog considers applied to transport, peak oil implications. Its all part of one "elephant in the room" so if you are feeling robust today, background reading & hard statistics here:


People having now to leave their cars at home more, forced to walk or heave out that long-forgotten "sleeper" bicycle from shed or back bedroom where public transport dont cover need. Bath looks more like Cambridge now. Alarmingly high proportion of homes also turned off their heating for same reasons during the last bitter winter months. This is the reality, links to such other items via the above address.

Wake up politicians, this is hurting us, the "little people" with shoulders to wheels. Some of us (a lot of us in an ageing population) have mobility problems and taxi fares are not cheap, plus they are road motor cars so part of the "old thinking". Shetland pony & little trap, anyone? Their pollution can make your garden vegetables grow really well. Sales of veg seed packets reported gone sky high too btw, like shades of "Dig For Victory".