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, November 15, 2011

here we go ...

This is a gem from Mick Knox. Unbelievably people are STILL complaining about the so-called 'high' cost of fuel!! Are they living in a complete fantasy world or are they so stupid that they can't see what is happening around them?

We need to accept that the car is dying - there is no way it can survive the coming oil shock, and the 'replacement' technology of electric cars will be even more expensive, and will be in such short supply that they simply won't be an option for most of us.
We need to move on from this posturing and decadence, trying to hold on to something that is already lost for ever. We need to forget trying to prolong the agony and start planning for the future. Nostalgia is NOT an option.
We need to start running our road network down before it happens anyway. All infrastructure projects should be abandoned immediately and the bare minimum for safety needs to become the norm. Speed limits need to be reduced to take this into account.
We need to immediately start reopening closed lines, starting with important cross country routes such as the S&D, Great Central, Woodhead, Waverley, Plymouth-Exeter via Tavsistock, Dumfries-Stranraer etc, then begin to put the branch lines back in. Then new interurban light railways and tramways need to be built to fill in the gaps, so that nobody is more than a mile or so from a station. Freight facilities need to be built at all points. Urban tramways need to be built in all larger towns and, of course, cities. Standard equipment needs to be built - locos, coaches, freight wagons, track panels, catenary etc, so that the cost of rebuilding and operating are reduced. Energy generating methods, from solar and wind through to wood burning need to be optimised. ALL infrastructure expenditure over the next three or four decades needs to be thrown at rail development at all levels.
I know the following is really an exercise in nostalgia and will not be to most reader's tastes, but try to read it!

MPs urge ministers to scrap a planned rise in fuel duty

Petrol pump Ministers say they have acted to alleviate the burden on motorists

The government should scrap a planned increase in fuel duty to help "hard-working, vulnerable Britons", a Conservative MP has said.

Robert Halfon said the government must show it is one "that cuts taxes for millions of British people and not just for millionaires".

He tabled a Commons motion urging action on fuel prices in response to an e-petition signed by 110,000 people.

It was approved by MPs without a vote but it is not binding on ministers.

Treasury minister Chloe Smith said the government was listening to people's concerns but "now was not the time" to change duty rates as such decisions must wait for the Budget.

The government plans to increase fuel duty by 3p a litre in January - meaning an extra £1.50 to fill an average car - and Chancellor George Osborne is under pressure to scrap that as part of his autum statement on the economy later this month.

Petrol prices have tripled in the past two decades, but ministers say prices would be even higher had they not scrapped automatic fuel-tax increases imposed by Labour.

Mr Osborne scrapped the annual fuel tax escalator - a mechanism under which duty rose by 1p above inflation every year - and cut fuel duty by 1p in March's Budget.

However, he has only postponed the planned inflation-linked part of the duty rise from April 2011 to January 2012, and from April 2012 to August 2012.

Opening the debate, Mr Halfon said: "Fuel duty is not just about economics, it's an issue of social justice and this is especially true in rural communities which are being destroyed by fuel prices."

He said the government had to be "realistic and truthful about who pays the lion's share of fuel duty".

Petrol and diesel prices versus the oil price

"It's ordinary families driving to work, it's mums taking their children to school, it's small businesses who can't afford to drive a van or their lorry, it's non-motorists who depend on buses who are also being crushed by rocketing food prices as the cost of road haulage goes through the roof."
In his motion, Mr Halfon urges ministers to consider whether current fuel tax rates are economically competitive; what impact they are having on economic growth and unemployment levels; and to examine the case for a price stabilisation mechanism to even out fluctuations in pump prices.

The Treasury has already said it will introduce a "fair fuel stabiliser" to ensure price rises are capped to inflation when oil prices are high.

Lib Dem party president Tim Farron agreed that people in rural areas were hardest hit because "demand is so inelastic for petrol because people have only one way of getting to work".

AA president Edmund King: "High fuel prices are already bringing in record amounts of tax"

Labour have welcomed the chance for a debate on the issue, but said there must be "concrete action" to help business and families rather than "warm words".

The party's leadership had backed an amendment by backbench MP Dave Watts urging the government to reverse January's rise in VAT to 20% - which they say would cut 3p off the price of a litre of petrol.

Russell Brown, MP for Dumfries and Galloway, said: "I have some people in remote areas who have discovered that to get to work has become far too costly and some of these people are considering giving up working all together."

Conservative Caroline Nokes, MP for Romsey and Southampton North, highlighted the struggles of haulage companies.

"Profit margins for hauliers are very tight. This makes it a very vulnerable business and in particular fuel companies are not willing to extend credit terms, leaving payments in some cases to as little as three days.

"Now when haulage firms may not be paid for work for up to 60 days, this proves to be a very hand-to-mouth industry and companies can only afford to think ahead to January."

Motorist: "Petrol prices are appalling at the moment"

The AA said the latest fuel price rises were already impacting on drivers, and that for the average motorist the planned increase would equate to an additional £38 a year at the pumps.

AA president Edmund King told BBC Radio 5Live the AA's latest survey showed that some 70% of motorists were already cutting back on journeys - or other expenditure, like food shopping, to pay for petrol.

He said price increases were "socially divisive", saying the nation was being divided into "drives" - people who can afford to drive - and "drive nots".

'Strangling the economy'

Motoring journalist Quentin Wilson, who speaks for FairFuel UK, a pressure group behind the e-petition, said he and others "want the whole fuel pricing issue to become open and transparent", adding that high fuel duty is "strangling the economy".

"There are desperate, desperate people who cannot afford to use the roads. The effect on society at the moment has been absolutely desperate. Fuel duty is strangling us," he said.

Meanwhile, Richard Hebditch, of Campaign for Better Transport, said the "big problem" is that Britons are reliant on their cars and dependant on foreign oil supplies, which are "quite risky oil supplies".

He said: "What we need to do is take the money from fuel duty and invest it in giving people real alternatives and modernising our transport systems so we aren't so dependant on foreign and risking oil supplies."

Tuesday's debate, which lasted three hours, was approved by the Backbench Business Committee.

How the cost of petrol and diesel breaks down


Paul Cullum said...

Whilst i agree wholeheartedly in the notion of the age of the car being over, i feel i must also say that as the car loses its grip, other transport solutions must be put in place first.
I look at all this, and i understand why people are angry....in my view, they are angry because there are no other alternatives to their car in a lot of cases. Woefully sub standard rural bus transport, pretty much non existent rail presence....what are they to do?
I am not arguing against the idea of the death of the car, but please make sure there is a good transport infrastructure in place FIRST.....not after the event...i just have zero faith in any government body doing anything to change the current trend....they are more than happy to sit back and rake in the tax revenue

Sunshiner said...

The problem is of course that it's not in our hands as to when the car becomes unviable. It's not a choice. There will be some years of attrition and with the government stupidly suggesting road development as a possible 'spur to growth' it shows just how far behind the curve they are In reality we should have been busily reinstating our railways from around 1990 when the end of oil was clearly happening. We are leaving it very very late, and even now we've not really started.

All we can do (as the New S&D) is ensure that the people along our routes are at the head of the reinstatemnt queue, we've no control at all over when the car vanishes, which will be different for different people, normally based on the cost of insurance, road tax, repairs and fuel against income.

There will be a flight of investment from road to rail as the energy crisis begins to hit, but to suggest that an entire new railway infrastructure be in place before the end of the car is a little utopian and, if wearing my economist's hat is acceptable, rather a misallocation of resources. Because of the cost and the difficulty of getting hold of skilled workers and resources it will be a gradual process.

Individually the trick is to be living in an area with an existing railway, tramway or soon-to-be-restored railway scheme already in place!