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!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

peak oil basics

I try not to mention Peak Oil too often, even though it does rather underpin everything the New S&D is about, but I'm not the proselytising sort.

However over the past few weeks there have been some amazingly ill-informed comments on this blog which suggest that at least a proportion of visitors don't have a clue what Peak Oil means either to the world or to them personally.

For this reason I'm linking to this site which is a basic Peak Oil primer. Please try to read this before barging in with daft comments!


cullbaggie said...

very interesting read, thanks.
i do not know if you saw the local BBC news (south west) but they have started using the newton abbott to Heathfield rail line - 10 years after they closed it for transporting tree wood to south wales! the man interviewed said it removed 27 lorries off the m5 per load.i think as oil starts to drop off we will see more of this

Sunshiner said...

It's so good that this line was mothballed rather than dismantled. Had it been scrapped the odds are that this traffic would never have gone to rail due to the capital costs of rebuilding the line. It's a shame they weren't more far-sighted in the late 50s when the Teign Valley line was closed, as this would make an easy diversionary route for the main line through Dawlish!

This should begin to happen more and more as oil prices harden or supply becomes patchy. And it's so good that timber is the product - the ultimate renewable resource!

Knoxy said...

The state should fund the rebuilding of these lines as an asset for all of us and the market fund the running of the trains. I would start with the 32bn earmarked for HS2.

Like you mention, its a good job the line was even there?

Anonymous said...

yes it is very interesting and should be rather worrying to people. The price of fuel will go up so it will cost more to transport goods by road.This cost will be passed down the line to the consumer.But what is the alternative ? Railways can handle People, people are easy!They turn up at the station by some means of transport, get on the train go to their destination,get off the train and make their way to their final destinations.Bulk frieghts are reletivley easy as well with yards at their departure and destination points.But what of my pallet of 'bits' I want to send from my little village near Basingtsoke to another little village outside Milton Keynes, I wonder if they'd be able to deliver that now. All the infrustructer for handling this sort of frieght has been ripped up and the land sold for development.Thanks In a major part to Mr Beeching and his cuts. But he is not entirely to blame frieght was already leaving the railways before he appeared on the scene.Roads were more flexible and at the time more often quicker and through some underhand dealing cheaper. Shunting wagons into different trains took both time and manpower,inreasingly exspensive manpower.But I wonder if Mr Beeching ,with the advantage of hindsight would have made those cuts.
Most people today have ,on the whole a good standard of living.We have things we take for granted that our father's struggled to afford . It would be difficult for people to change and whilst I feel that change will occur ,I don't prophesise doom and gloom. The rail network may well continue it's expansion, people may possibly use thier electic cars ( or buses) to travel to their local stations,frieght may return to rail but with an efficient means of sorting, possibly a form of containerisaion,not the 20 ft kind but a smaller pallet sized system,which would have to be quick and automated (should be achievable in this day and age)To save on the shunting time.But it needs people (I'm thinking of businesses ,politicians - not known for seeing past the next election)and other investors to act sooner rather than later - but I bet they won't. On a change of tact I wonder if anyones given anythought to what the loading gauge will be on HS2 .If they increased it for the line they could run channel tunnel style trains and with depots at London, Birmingham , Edinburugh and other strategic points, which could take lorries which in turn , if people don't get too greedy,could take quite a few long distance lorries off the roads

Knoxy said...

Perhaps we should rebuild the Great Central, which runs alongside much of the HS2 route and was originally built to a larger loading gauge for channel tunnel freight? The Victorian Channel Tunnel Link, as was.

I think you may find the LMS pioneered smaller containerisation from 1928, but it was not taken up into international standards. It may be time for smaller containers to re-appear? We have cages on small wheels inside road trucks and single pallet load traffic on the road, so why not rail? It will come as the cost of moving one wagon (articulated truck and trailer) was 6 mile per gallon, when I last drove, almost 20 years ago. I doubt it has changed that much since?

Yes, I appreciate we have lost most, if not all the freight handling infrastructure since the Beeching axe, but that doesn’t mean to say it was right, nor that it won’t be needed again? What we must do now, is safeguard what we have, and look forward to rebuilding it. The former Great Central should be the freight spine through the country, linking it to the old marshalling yards and ports, all at the larger loading gauge. Yeah, it may cost a bit, but we are paying billions for people to do nothing these days, so may as well give them something worthwhile to do?

If we don’t, we’ll all suffer the cost of congestion while we still have oil and next to no transport when we don’t.

Doesn’t take much working out we need these lines back and fast.

Sunshiner said...

All good points. I don't now think for one minute that HS2 will be built because the future won't be about fast transport but efficient transport. What hasn't even been considered is that high speed trains, fine in an era of very cheap fuel like now, are very wasteful of energy, and energy efficiency will as I've said often before be the prime consideration for transport in the future. This heralds the end of air travel (which has no alternative to oil anyway) and of personal transport (other than rail personal transport, which does already exist - blog post to follow!) and of course the use of energy inefficient road to carry freight.

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!

Government is scared to openly explain that rail investment and the end of investment in road and air is a reaction to Peak Oil, still choosing to claim we need these things to tackle Climate Change!

No wonder we still get eccentrics like the 'Compulsory Purchase' one who plagued our comments section for a few days last week with totally daft and ignorant comments. Some people believe any old nonsense they are told. It appears now that this was an Occupy protestor, unhappy with my attacks on them in the Bristol press and in Facebook groups, trying a bit of tit for tat. You'll be pleased to know that I got a final abusive comment (unpublished of course) from him or her trashing everything we're doing, and by extension rail rebuilders everywhere. I have at least immortalised him or her in the Jurassic Park sidebar on this blog - (s)he's promised not to comment again.

1-0 to us I think!!

And on freight patterns for the future - block loads etc were very much a product of their time, riding on the back of the now thoroughly disgraced Beeching report. The fact is the railways threw away countless billions of pounds worth of traffic (at little extra cost to its fixed capital costs) over the last 50 years purely for a discredited political reason - it was nothing to do with economics. As Mick says small vans happily carry pallets and even individual parcels - the new rail system will do this easily. Smaller loads can simply be placed in the guards compartments in passenger trains (as they are to this day in Switzerland) and individual wagon loads can be picked up from each station (as they are to this day in Switzerland too!)

Remember, we won't be in a hurry in the energy-poor world of the future. Service and efficiency will be the keystones of all our activity. Railways are uniquely suited to do this. I almost feel sorry for the roads and airlines, they have NO chance!

Railways with their excellent all weather infrastructure and professional work force will wipe the floor with fragile and increasingly expensive road and air transport. It's already starting to happen yet we're still in the age of super cheap fuel!

Anonymous said...

Railways all weather infrastructure! that's a joke a few leaves on the the line or a bit of snow and it comes to a grinding halt, LOL

Sunshiner said...

That's not strictly true is it? I don't think leaves have been a problem for a while and trains keep going through snow far better than the roads or air. And it's nothing a degree of investment won't cure - point heaters, more snow blowers or ploughs. The trunk nature of railways make them far easier to keep clear than the spiderweb network of roads.

Most of the rest is just Daily Mail/urban legend speak.

Sunshiner said...

It's also a verty parochial view. In Switzerland for example trains are very rarely delayed due to snow - the only time I've experienced it there is when there's an avalanche risk and this is only during extreme falls. The Bernina Railway routinely runs through 20 feet of snow in winter, most mountain lines run through a metre. Roads are always being blocked through snow in Switzerland despite all the ploughs and blowers, and of course have the same problems with avalanches.

Over many passes the roads are closed for the whole winter and all transit is by rail.

Anonymous said...

I notice you go on holiday abroad a lot. Do you always get there by rail? I thought you might boycot other forms of transport as rail is king.

Sunshiner said...

LOL! How exactly do I get to New York, the Caribbean or Florida by rail?

I certainly use rail when I get to my destination, where it's possible.

My belief is that we should take advantage of this easy and cheap ability to travel whilst we still can. Air travel will be gone in thirty years' time - why would I deprive myself of the ease of getting places whilst I still can?

It's not that I'm an environmentalist!

We'll look back on these days in thirty/forty years' time and I suspect we'll kick ourselves if we didn't take advantage of easy travel whilst we still could.

This is about the future, not now.

Would you have not used steam trains in the 60s because they were a dying form of travel, or would you have used them as much as you could?

Where have I ever said rail is king? It will be in the future but only an idiot would suggest that that is the situation now!