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!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

compusory purchase man rises again!


Okay, I admit it, I had a bit of fun with the poster now known as 'Compulsory Purchase Man'. He began to run down everything we were doing, I answered his points in a restrained and I think informed manner, but he then went on to claim, in all seriousness, that nobody takes any notice of compulsory purchase orders. This marked him, to me, as a non-serious poster, a joker or a troll.

He promised not to make any more comments but this gem has just arrived -

I also thought by the way that this was a forum to express personal view's [sic]. You obviosly[sic] can't take comments that are slightly negitive[sic] towards the full reinstatement of the line without trying to make those statements seem fool hardy[sic]. It's a case of you can dish it but you can't take it. I have shown your comments on here to other rail ethusiasts i[sic] know and they also agree the S/D can't go back the way it was. But fully support each project.

Hmmm. So he's now running to other railway enthusiasts yet they are still saying they support us? I don't get it. He seems to know me so well! I pondered a little on this, and finally responded as follows -
I think the main point is that this is a group/forum for people who want to rebuild the S&D. There are a lot of people giving up a lot of time making this happen. In reality all the members of the New S&D accept that the S&D will be rebuilt - that's no longer the issue, HOW we do it is what's important now.

So if a few people - who always have agendas of their own - try to drag the argument backwards but without any actual information, evidence, analysis what is the point? What do they want - for us to declare the whole project dead in the water, and for us to return to doing nothing? What exactly do they want??

A few times I've asked these posters what their credentials and qualifications are and not once have any of them got back to me! So I have to conclude that these are merely personal opinions with no grounding in reality but instead in prejudices and ignorance.

We have to move with the times. In a few decades there will be no more road traffic or air traffic, there simply won't be enough energy available. And not ONE poster has ever challenged this assertion with facts and figures. We may have a few electric vehicles connecting stations to outlying farms, shops etc, but these will be extremely expensive and really just waiting for rail to reach them. This is the future into which the New S&D - and hundreds of other lines round the country - is moving in to. I'm sorry that that upsets some people - heritage railway fans, petrolheads, Occupy, utopians etc - but what's the point of pretending it's not happening?

At the heart of the New S&D, ironically, are rail enthusiasts of the broadest sort, who loved the old S&D and want to preserve at least some aspects of it when the line's rebuilt. The alternative isn't a closed S&D - that was a temporary aberration from a different age - but, to paraphrase Mick Knox, a bland reopened network route hemmed in by palisade fencing.

Is this really what people want, because I don't!

The S&D deserves the very best, it deserves people that will FIGHT for its future and the people that have already realised this and are doing the work surely have the right to ignore those that would want to drag us back to the 1960s? Especially if there's absolutely nothing underpinning their arguments?

The simple fact is all this 'should the S&D reopen' nonsense was done and dusted five years ago. We've moved on. The New S&D was born from the winning of that argument. The argument now is clearly not 'should it happpen' but 'HOW do we make it happen?' That's where we are now. And it's so important to put the S&D at the top of the queue, because this is now starting to happen everywhere! Just be pleased that there are people giving us loads of time and money to do it, with more joining us all the time.

My gift for restraint amazes me sometimes! There is a certain value in this sort of comment because it often opens up a stream of conciousness from which emerges some interesting points.

The main one is that the New S&D only really happpened AFTER the argument about whether there was a case for reopening the S&D was settled. The second, and this in context to yesterday's AGM is really interesting, is that what's the problem even to people who still don't 'get' Peak Oil and the New S&D that our aim is to restore the WHOLE line? Who does that threaten? We have a good deal of heritage fans within our ranks and the rest are certainly sympathetic to the original S&D. We don't threaten to destroy the memory of the S&D, quite the opposite. Many of our members are also members at Shillingstone, Midsomer Norton and Washford. I myself am a Life Member at Midsomer Norton and a regular member at Shillingstone.

Continuing on this it's important to stress that the constitution of the New S&D charges us to restore the WHOLE route. It's at the absolute heart of the New S&D. Nothing less will do. But this doesn't mean that we expect to restore the whole line next week. Within that overarching ambition are the far smaller ambitions of restoring Midford and Spetisbury, ambitions in their own way far smaller than anything Midsomer Norton and Shillingstone currently have! This is a gradual, step by step, leveraged project. None of us know how we are going to restore the whole S&D. That's for the future, twenty, thirty, perhaps even forty years down the line. We can only do our small bit, now.

What happens in the real world out there will affect the pace at which the New S&D is restored. We still have very cheap fuel, but that price is illusory. There are many hidden subsidies and prejudices that keep the price low, but with current cuts they won't last forever. Cheap fuel is still easy to source but the peak has now been reached, probably a few years ago, and continuing growth in places like India and China, coupled with falling production, will soon begin to be reflected in the price of oil, and everything that depends on cheap oil. This is not contentious, yet some ill informed posters seem to think it's all conjecture. They are of course entitled to their opinion, but to me the value of one's opinion is intimately linked to the knowledge, qualifications and expertise of the person with the opinion ... and in this case the commentator seriously suggested that nobody takes any notice of compulsory purchase orders, which immediately devalued everything else he said!

At the end of the day there are an increasing number of well-educated, qualified and experienced people who are joining the New S&D cause. Our energy should be directed at getting the S&D back, not wasted on arguing with people who couldn't care less about the S&D and haven't even armed themselves with the information to make their 'point'.

Personally this is the last time I'll engage with this issue, and I'm only doing this for nostalgic reasons! If it does come up ever again - and I doubt it will - I'll simply direct the poster to this blog post!

13 comments:

Anna Metcalfe said...

I have feeling that the following thread might be relevant to this post: http://www.railforums.co.uk/showthread.php?t=58732

Sunshiner said...

LOL. Great stuff!!

I particularly liked the poster who claimed (as recently as 6 January 2012!!) that the New S&D were not recognised by the other S&D groups. They obviously didn't realise that we now take part in the joint trusts meetings, or on the 2016 planning meetings. As a life member at Midsomer Norton I'd be a bit cross if we weren't recognised!

There's still a lot of misinformation going around about the New S&D and other (non S&D) rail rebuilding groups that perhaps lack the classic 'heritage' stance, perhaps it just shows how seismic an effect we're having. But then I'd challenge this assertion about the New S&D, as we have quite a strong heritage element.

There's no such thing as bad publicity, that's for sure!

A few years ago I used to post to this forum but it was so defeatist and pointless I gave up. It felt like I'd timewarped back to 1972. It doesn't seemed to have changed much!

Great fun though. It always amazes me how out of touch some people are, despite everything going on around them. I wish I could live in a fantasy world like that- it must be a very comfortable place ...

Keith Browning said...

Don't underestimate the huge negative forces of the oil and aero industries that will be the last to admit that the oil has all gone. The announcement of the new HS2 line was greeted by Sky News with a ten minute discussion with the head of the Civil Aircraft Authority about how high speed rail could threaten the airlines.

Now within days the 'Heathrow is too small' lobby have taken up hours of air time over the weekend, with their plans to concrete over the Thames estuary.

Let the battle commence.

Sunshiner said...

Bring it on!

What they need to understand (and of course know already) is that as each day passes the oil dries up that little bit more. There's nothing any of them (or us) can do about this.

Which simply means that each day things get easier for us and harder for them. There's only one clear outcome in this. It's great to be on the right side in a game that you're guaranteed to win. You derive a lot of power and confidence from that.

We already have ex-oil workers in the New S&D, and ex lorry drivers like myself and Mick Knox. The transfer traffic will all be one way ...

Knoxy said...

I had a little read myself, but that was enough. How many of them get away from the computer screen and actually do something to help a railway project?

Tom Seale said...

"Any fool can criticize, condemn and complain.. and most fools do." -- Dale Carnegie

Knoxy said...

To use a quote from Steve;

“What HS2 has revealed is that there is £32 billion of cash out there ready for investment in rail! Just imagine what that would buy - S&D, Great Central, Okehampton-Bere Alston, Dumfries-Stranraer, Waverley route throughout, Broadstone-Brockenhurst, all those branches that should never have closed - Ilfracombe, Bude, Lyme Regis, Sidmouth, Hayling Island, Kingsbridge, Lewes-Uckfield, Tunbridge Wells-Eastbourne, and there'll still be change!.”

And to the forum boys

Well of course there will be money for investment like this. They’ll just print it! That’s where the money will come from. LOL. And workers to build it? Well hand all those on the dole a pick and shovel and there’s your labour.

The whole point of good transport links is to trade. That is why we need good rail links. The EU is crumbling; the Banks have lost the plot. Money is just an I owe you for your labour. Too many people have forgotten that. Payment for labour, nothing more, nothing less.

To get this country out of recession we need to rebuild our railway infrastructure for the peak oil future

Sunshiner said...

Now we know it's the forum boys then there's no issue. There's only a couple of them using multiple names. I don't know why but they took an instant dislike to the New S&D right at the start and NOTHING you'd say to them made any difference. It's almost like a psychosis. And they still aren't learning anything! They are a pair of arrogant and pointless anti-rail types who wouldn't be welcome at ANY railway! So this is the only place they can spill their uninformed bile.

We won't be engaging with them here any more because they are basically just trolls. They certainly have no interest in this country's railway future. Whereas we're actually doing something about it.

I'll leave them in cloud cuckoo land, I actually found their forum posts quite disturbing, and I've got a very thick skin. And the weirdest thing is that they don't absorb a WORD of what's said here (or anywhere else) because they sound like broken records. Everything they've asked for has been explained many times here and in other places, but it all passes them by! They even post comments asking questions that have been answered in the original post!!

Keith Browning said...

Looking around the various rail groups who are actively reconnecting sizeable towns and villages to the main network my guess is that about £100 million could produce 100 miles of track. Well actually the track is there it is only the cost of the link-up which is the problem, and that is often a signalling issue or providing a short section of track, perhaps a mile or so long, or a small bridge,etc,etc.

Surely the groups should be one voice on that matter and lobby accordingly. it could be a big vote winner in some places. However, generally all the efforts are going into raising donations from wellwishers who are more likely to be pensioners than the local business people.

Sunshiner said...

I always overestimate the cost of things - one of the failings of being an economist and former finance director! A million pounds a mile is a pretty good ballpark figure for relaying a railway although heritage groups do it for far less. It may be that relaying the S&D will be a lot cheaper than I thought although purchasing of buildings etc for demolition would add to costs in places. But 97% of the S&D is clear of obstructions in any case.

There are many new non heritage rail revival groups springing up - perhaps it'll be time soon to form a new association along the lines of the Heritage Railway one for groups such as ours? That way we could lobby effectively together.

Anyone up for setting such an organisation up?

Eddystone said...

Well,got to admit that a recently published Peak Oil graph (presented by the New S&D Group) was pretty disturbing.It depicted current oil production hopelessly outstripping new discoveries. Don't forget that even electric vehicles need to have their power centrally generated. Road and air travel to finish?- he could be right. We could be talking semi -apocalypse or a radical change in society with its values and habits. There's a ring of truth in what he's saying and I know he's genuinely gathering support. The standard replies and rebuttals don't stack up-they are just the same old crap-something is going to happen-something akin to the St Paul's demo-some kind of quiet revolution-or even a louder one. There's something mystical about the counties of Somerset and Dorset-I'm on that wavelength. There's something magical about the S&D too-Donald had the feel for it...'Eddystone' survived for a reason -'Braunton' also-and all those 9F's! New S&D could well be a stamping ground for the PPM-there must be a not necessarily logical reason for all this fundamental back to basics thinking.Extreme maybe-impossible never! Even the New S&D don't know what they've got in their hands-but at least they admit it!

Eddystone said...

Well,got to admit that a recently published Peak Oil graph (presented by the New S&D Group) was pretty disturbing.It depicted current oil production hopelessly outstripping new discoveries. Don't forget that even electric vehicles need to have their power centrally generated. Road and air travel to finish?- he could be right. We could be talking semi -apocalypse or a radical change in society with its values and habits. There's a ring of truth in what he's saying and I know he's genuinely gathering support. The standard replies and rebuttals don't stack up-they are just the same old crap-something is going to happen-something akin to the St Paul's demo-some kind of quiet revolution-or even a louder one. There's something mystical about the counties of Somerset and Dorset-I'm on that wavelength. There's something magical about the S&D too-Donald had the feel for it...'Eddystone' survived for a reason -'Braunton' also-and all those 9F's! New S&D could well be a stamping ground for the PPM-there must be a not necessarily logical reason for all this fundamental back to basics thinking.Extreme maybe-impossible never! Even the New S&D don't know what they've got in their hands-but at least they admit it!

yamfaz said...

Hasn't that already happened in reality. Yes it is still called the Heritage Railway Association, but in fact it is a body that represents Companies that own and run trains. All it needs is a name change.

Private Rail companies are the future of transport in this country and increasingly so as investors see opportunities to make money. I work on the KESR and we started out as a small line saved by a group of Grammar School boys 'Playing trains'. Now we have a couple of gentlemen of substantial means rebuilding the missing link to Robertsbridge. And yes it is nice of them to complete the branch, but in reality it is a sound business opportunity of running trains to Bodiam castle and beyond. They can see that there is increasing demand for cheaper ways of visiting the castle and rail provides that option.

Now what we need to shout about are the business opportunities the New S&D will bring to the entire route. Sometimes I think others get lost and distracted in the whole idea of 'Peak Oil'. It might be better to break down the argument and just stick to the cost of the black stuff. Then I think more people will understand that.

Keep up the Great work and I'll be down when I can. Cost of fuel permitting.