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, August 16, 2011

worth it

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The usual suspects are already whinging about rising rail fares, yet they are only being set at 3% above PRI over the next three years. This is a genuine rise of around 10%. Is it such a big deal?

So what will we be getting? 2300 new carriages for a start. Completion of Cross Rail. Electrification from Bristol to London. And an awful lot more. The railways are absolutely buzzing at the moment with ridership at almost an historical high. Success tends to come at a cost. Does anyone seriously believe that motoring costs will only rise 10% over the next three years? And air fares? I'd be surprised if they keep under 50%! It's all relative. Simply giving up and selling your car releases huge amounts of cash, buy a bike and generally travel less (by train of course) and you'll save thousands every year. You could even afford to go first class - we do most of the time!

Apparently a million people have given up driving over the last year, citing the 'high' cost of fuel!! The roads certainly seem quieter. The reduced number of drivers will lead to inevitabe tax and duty rises to cover the income shortfall (only slightly offset by reduced wear and tear), setting up a virtuous circle of less car and lorry use and more use of rail. And 19% less youngsters are taking driving lessons, a brilliant fact!

Forget the 1970s attitudes. Rail, like gold and the Swiss Franc, are on a high. And success costs that little bit more. It's a price well worth paying!


WestfieldWanderer said...

There's an argument that tax income from motoring doesn't actually cover it costs to society, so one could question whether the taxman might lose overall revenue as motoring continues to decline.

The assumption that motoring taxation creates a surplus to the taxman has been challenged by various people, not least ecologist Kim Harding who calculated all the ‘externalities’ of motoring in the UK.
I quote:
"In the financial year 2006-07, £28.43bn was raised from taxes on fuel and Vehicle Excise Duty (VED). In the same year around £8.78bn went toward road building and maintenance, but that is not the whole story. The cost of policing the roads and the expense incurred by the judicial system has been estimated to be £3bn. Also, the cost to the NHS of injuries due to road crashes, according to figures collated by RoSPA, was £9.93bn. So the total cost to government was £32.81bn, meaning there was a shortfall of £4.38bn, which had to be covered from other non-motoring related taxation.
In addition there is the cost to businesses and other drivers due to delays caused by congestion, estimated by those rampant greens, the Confederation of British Industry , to be about £19.1bn.
He also adds in the annual costs of noise pollution (£3.1bn); air pollution (£19.7bn – not including CO2); water pollution (between £1bn and £16bn); and obesity (£2bn)."

Then, according to Jan Gehl, the famous Copenhagen "Cities for people" architect and guru: "Danish research has found that for every KM cycled, society saves 30 cents. For every KM driven, society loses 20 cents. Biking is not just about having fun and being ‘green’; it pays, too."

Clearly, "the motorist" isn't the "cash cow" many petrol-heads would like us to believe, which makes the case for rail even stronger.

Knoxy said...

and you haven't even factored in the cost of defending axcess to the oil fields.

BertieBeatlefan said...

Well said Westfield Wanderer. I'm sure all of this could be verified by the Cambridge University transport study lot. I used to work with some 'dip-sticks' that still reckoned tax from motoring was used to subsidise agriculture. I believe this was true at one time. Yes; one time, maybe...

Anonymous said...

I'm afraid, yes - it IS a big deal. Britain had the most expensive railway in Europe before any of the recent/new rises. The current fares price 100,000s off the railways entirely, and discourage millions who see travelling in their cars as comparable financially. If we are going to succeed in prodiving socially-inclusive & sustainable transportaion in the UK, then rail fares must be ruduced drastically (>50%). This must be achieved by re-nationalisation to cut-out the profiteering & subsidy/investment from Government. By the end of BR, the annual subsidy for the network was £1bn (in today's real terms), now with the fragmented, private mess it's £5bn for considerably lesser service. I would also like to see the proposed funds for HS2 redirected into reinvigorating lower-speed regional lines (& developments such as the S&D!).

Sunshiner said...

Well I don't think renationalization will ever be on the cards, which is a good thing. Under the heavy hand of bureaucracy the railways suffered terribly and were treated appallingly at the whim of politicians, particularly Marples, Castle and Thatcher, all pure scum.

Privatization has been fantastic for the railways, ignoring all the mimicking the market drivel, and the short term franchise nonsense. Even with those limitations on what should be a genuine free market they have increased ridership and pumped investment into the system. Has it ever been such an exciting and innovative time? Just compare our system now to how it was in the dead times of the 60s, 70s and 80s! And fares, if you buy in advance, are an incredible bargain. Remember running even a basic crap car can easily cost £5000 a year. 'High' fares have hardly discouraged usage of the network. Would reducing fares by 50% double ridership and if it did would we want to put up with the terrible overcrowding?

There are a lot of red herrings swimming around, too much repeating what others (with an agenda) say rather than thinking things through properly.

Basically we need the following -

a simplified planning process with automatic planning permission granted for all railway reinstatement projects.

A GENUINE privatization of the future network with railway companies owning the routes and trains, not just franchising. Community involvement, investment and ownership of all local routes as part of the grant process.

Government grants for rail reopenings.

Electrification of all major routes and development money for wood burners to work on non-electrified routes.

A declaration by the government that the road network will be allowed to whither and die and that rail be declared to be the primary fast mode of transport for freight and passengers.