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, March 19, 2012

getting the point

It's amazing how many people - even railway enthusiasts - reckon we needn't worry about Peak Oil as the alternatives will be easy to find and cheap to produce.

People like things to be simple. Kids aren't taught economics at school and most adults don't have a clue what economics is! This wasn't a problem in the easy times, but it will be in the future, because everything may depend on it.

People in all seriousness believe that the future is electric cars (despite electricity generation set to FALL!), biofuels (now totally discredited - it is not scalable, destroys the fertlility of soil and, even at 5% of requirements will push food prices up by huge amounts), or even hydrogen (hydrogen is an energy CARRIER, not a form of energy).

But I reckon the following few paragraphs put it far more succinctly than I ever will -

Much is made of the development of the hydrogen-fuelled vehicle, but the only sustainable method of hydrogen generation is by electrolysis using electricity from wind or marine current power. However, there will be great competition for this and it would be more efficient to use renewably generated electricity directly for trains or trams or for battery vehicles. To have supplied the 2006 level of road vehicle movements with hydrogen would require round three times the energy generated that year by coal, gas and nuclear power combined, viz., 1100 TWh compared with 400 TWh actually generated. This will restrict the use of the hydrogen car to a favoured minority. Transport fuels in 2006 amounted to 53.5 million tonnes.
Bio-diesel is already being supplied in limited quantities, mainly as a blend with normal diesel. Currently in the UK, biodiesel is manufactured from waste cooking oil and imported palm oil. The likely amount of waste vegetable oil from the food industry totals only 75,000 tonnes/annum, which with bio-ethanol or methanol would make around 100,000 tonnes of motor fuel. However, in 2005 a plant was commissioned in Newarthill, near Motherwell, Scotland which augments waste cooking oil with tallow to produce 50 million litres (57,000 tonnes) of biodiesel per annum. But the final amount is restricted by the amount of land able to be devoted to rape cultivation, all the biodiesel from which will be needed for agriculture. It might be possible to import rape seed (or rape oil from it) grown on land currently used for tobacco. Other vegetable oils can be employed and there are controversial imports of palm oil.
Bio-diesel is currently made using methanol (to produce FAME) from the petrochemical industry, so to be sustainable it should be made using bioethanol (to produce FAEE). British Sugar manufactures bioethanol from sugar or wheat in Norfolk, but because of more favourable tax rebates in Poland has also located an initial venture there. Bioethanol is blended with petrol in any proportion up to 15%.
In 2006 the use of oil-based liquid fuels for road transport amounted to 53.5 million tonnes per annum, up from 49.5 million tonnes in 2000, a rise of 8% in spite of increases in fuel efficiency. There no possibility of replacing this with alternative fuels.

Source is the Busby Report, a little dated now but very prescient!

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