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!

Monday, February 20, 2012

another one falls ...

In general economists tend to dismiss Peak Oil (as a problem, not a theory) because they believe in infinite substitution of products. Of course this only works up to a point, in the end even substitutes (unless they are sustainable like wood or sunlight) will run out, and oil is a very special case anyway. Nothing matches the cheapness and easiness of oil, and never before has a global society been built on the base of a finite product that has been treated as infinite. This is where  the real problems will occur, when everyone realises that. There isn't a substiture for oil, and so much - from fuel to plastics to fertilizers - depends on it.

Gradually even mainstream economists and commentators are beginning to get this, and I think the following statement (from today's Money Week on line) says it best of all.

Global oil production peaked in May 2005 and despite the higher price, this level of production has not been matched.

The fact that companies are now having to drill miles under the sea or in other undesirable locations, suggests that the easy–to–find ‘cheap’ stuff has long since been found. There may be something to this peak oil business after all.

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Stephen said...

The issue is that the genie of easy personal transport is out of the bottle, and drives such a massive part of the economy that the end of mineral oil will become a sideshow - it's likely hydrogen (which is an inexhaustible fuel supply you do not mention) will become the substitute fuel, with nuclear as the generator of electricity to crack H from seawater. The move from research to production is happening now.

No government will let the oil-based economy fail to transition to something else - and future heavy rail will be more HS2 and less heritage line reborn. Yes, investment should be in heavy rail for goods, and also in water - it's a crime that both have been left to rot as museum pieces at the behest of the roads lobby. But the real R&D money for post-mineral oil power is with the oil and energy companies, and they have a vested interest in maintaining personal transport options.

Still, the work you are doing is excellent, I just hope it's not headed solely to be another bit of theme-park Britain. (And if steam is going to feature bavk on the railways it will be as turbine driven locos rather than Peppercorn rebuilds, I suspect)

Mark said...

Rob Hopkins cofounded the Transition Culture movement a few years ago:

He recently gave a talk on Four Thought on Radio 4, and the podcast should be maintained for quite a while yet:

The focus of his interesting work is of non-growth and local economies, with the end of a globalised economy. Given some of the published thinking behind the NS&D, maybe this could contribute to the engagement with the re-growth of town and village life? Such as, and very far from limited to, the previously mentioned pub at Midford.

It could make very good sense for the business officers of a more complete NS&D to give moral and mutual-benefit support to new and small companies along a 100 mile Somerset & Dorset locality?

Sunshiner said...

Hydrogen is a total red herring and we've covered this before. Hydrogen is not a source of energy, but an energy carrier, so it doesn't matter how common it is, you still need to generate the energy that it will carry so it's a circular argument. Bear in mind that each stage in energy transformation is never 100% efficient so hydrogen will use MORE energy, not less!

Also we need to understand that whilst nuclear power is an excellent resource that we have no option but to use uranium is not renewable so there will be a huge upward swing in its price as competition hots up to get the last of it.

There's an awful lot of disinformation out there which we need to be aware of. All this does is bring forward the day when the energy crunch hits home (as we won't economise if we think there will be alternatives and also much energy is subsidised and cross subsidised). At the very best energy is going to cost vastly more in the future, I try not to think about the worst as I'm a born optimist!

And yes, if (almost certainly when) we use steam power again certainly the New S&D will use modern futuristic steam, wood burning of course, and will hardly resemble the old style steam locos at all!

Sunshiner said...

I was involved with Transition in the early days so am completely attuned with it! Without Transition there'd be no New S&D!

Of course we want to encourage the growth and development of small sustainable businesses en route and I covered how this would work with the Hope and Anchor a week or two ago - it even gained some rants from CPO Man!

We're also probably the only railway that wants to limit demand for our 'product' by encouraging cycling and walking and working from home. There'll be more than enough work for us once the oil runs out!

I really hope that we become the first Transition Transport Initiative - will put it to the Board at the next meeting!