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!
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!
Saturday, March 17, 2012
ten billion more for railways?
Thanks to Anna-Jayne Metcalfe for this. It underlines both the hidden costs of motoring and the fact that there's another ten billion quid out there for transport - in other words RAILWAYS! There's no point wasting this on trying to keep the road network going - it's dying and we should just let it die ... ten billion would open about 500 miles of new railways, that can last into the distant future.
Report claims 11-year pothole backlog
England is facing an 11-year backlog of potholes which will cost £10billion to repair following funding cuts, a survey has found.
England is facing an 11-year backlog of potholes, a report claimsPhoto: ALAMY
Two thirds of local authorities said they were are unable to carry out necessary repairs to bring roads back to the condition they were in at the start of last winter.
This has left a fifth per cent of the country’s roads in need or urgent repair within the next five years, which will cost an estimated £10 billion.
The repairs have been hampered by cuts to local authority budgets which have left councils in England and Wales with an £800million funding gap.
The Asphalt Industry Alliance, which conducted the survey, said the additional Government funding of £200 million to help councils, although welcome, "has proven woefully inadequate".
Earlier this week all-party Public Accounts Committee warned that cuts to the highway maintenance budget could end up costing the taxpayer more as roads deteriorate.
It estimated that the Highways Agency alone, which is responsible for only 10 per cent of the roads network, had to pay £2.5 million compensation in a year for vehicle damage and personal injuries.
According to the Alliance, which represents companies who repair and resurface roads, said councils filled in 1.7million potholes last year.
The alliance estimated that the cold winter of 2010-11 caused £600 million damage to the country’s roads.
Edmund King, the President of the AA, said: "Our members are very concerned at this pothole plague. This deterioration [is happening] is despite councils working hard to keep pace to reduce the backlog using the extra cash allocated by the Department for Transport.
“The survey once again shows that potholes blight our roads and are as much about lack of investment in proper road repairs as they are about bad winters and heavy traffic.
“We need a new approach to stop this vicious circle of decline which causes danger to all road users, particularly those on two wheels, and expensive damage to vehicles.”
Peter Box, chairman of the Local Government Association’s Economy ad Transport Board, accused the Coalition of failing to provide enough money to tackle the problem.
“Councils are currently stuck in the position of chasing their tails, repeatedly patching up a deteriorating network rather then fixing it properly,” he said.
“What is needed from central government is a serious commitment to funding an upgrade of the entire road network. This will save billions of pounds in the long term and make roads safer for motorists.”
Norman Baker, the local transport minister, defended the Government’s record.
“I recognise there is an ongoing need for highways maintenance that can’t be fixed overnight,,” he said.
“However we are providing £3 billion to councils for road maintenance between 2011 and 2015 which is more in cash terms than the previous 4 years - as well as investing £6m for longer term strategies. We also gave them generous windfall handouts last year following the severe winter which caused major problems.”