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!

Friday, February 24, 2012

all the time in the world

Well perhaps not, but with the New S&D being a long term project, expected to last over at least two generations, we are rather oversupplied with time to do things, as long as the situation in the wider world allows it! There may be some very strange jerks in our progress, with things being a hive of activity at times but at other times not much happening at all - or at least appearing so.

A lot of people don't 'get' this. They ask valid questions like 'how are you going to pay for this?' but 'this' can mean a lot of things. At the moment 'this' is the acquisition and rebuilding of Midford and Spetisbury and equipping them as information and sales offices for the whole route. We can manage that quite easily, and progress has been excellent. Remember that the New S&D is not a heritage project but a plan to rebuild a much-needed railway. It will be expected to be profitable so we won't rely on things like grants and subsidies. The New S&D may well be built in its entirely by a public company, through the government, a consortium or even Wessex Links Ltd!

As the Energy Crisis progresses it will become clear to everyone that new railways will be needed. This will be when things really start happening and why it's so important to get the ball rolling now.

Think about this - what sort of line is going to attract support from communities along the route, politicians and investors - a long closed route overgrown with weeds, built on extensively and with no obviious local support or a line that has been restored in places, where other sections are owned by a group dedicated to rebuilding the route and where the community has been involved right from the start?

I know some people think that this won't happen, or (worse to my mind) it'll only happen in parts. But these people tend not to have had their 'Peak Oil moment' yet so are still thinking that the future will resemble the past. It won't. There's no contention about Peak Oil, it's a simple geological and economic fact. We WILL run out of cheap oil and when we do everything will change, not just the price of fuel at the petrol pumps! Fuel itself will become hard to get at any price, the roads will empty, we'll probably have intermittent electricity supplies, food will not be as easy and cheap to find because non-organic farming methods rely on oil-based fertilizers and plastics will either vanish or be very expensive. This is the world we're moving in to, and the one we need to plan for. The past is irrelevant.

Who knows when this will happen? Well Peak Oil has been reached, back in 2005. Energy efficiency and the recession has reduced oil usage around the world, so this is masked a little, and fuel is still incredibly cheap. But as oil gets scarcer the chances of a REAL oil shock become more common and eventually inevitable. That's when we need to be ready.

So in this respect time is limited! I suspect that as we react to events we'll up our game or chill out a lot, depending on what's happening.

Many out there still haven't joined the New S&D and that's fine. Their time hasn't come yet. But it will and the fact that this site now gets between 250 and 350 hits a day suggests that the message is beginning to reach people. And remember, this is very early days!
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1 comment:

Eddystone said...

What a wonderful currency TIME is...