(Evercreech New, 1960s)
Perfect timing is essential to the great New S&D project. We would have looked stupid if we'd stated that we aimed to rebuild the whole line within 5 years. That's never going to happen. We have to carefully judge what is needed and what will be successful at each point in our temporal journey towards restoring the whole line. At the moment the two small revival projects at Shillingstone and Midsomer Norton, together with the narrow gauge line at Gartell and restoration of Midford are just right for 2012. They are enough to declare that the S&D is returning but not a step too far, for now.
Over the next ten years we can expect all three locations with track to expand somewhat, and be operating regular heritage trains. Who knows, by then one or some of them may even be operating genuine services for passengers or freight? We can expect a few more locations where the New S&D is restoring infrastructure and quite possibly running genuine trains.
The big thrust will probably come within ten to twenty years, when the S&D lines start to unify and when 99% of the population can not afford to run cars any more. The roads themselves will crumble through underuse and lack of investment. Governments will be rushing to put in railways and tramways everywhere to keep the economy going and to put a lid on social unrest. The hope is that by then we are considered a serious player in rail restoration and we can rebuild the S&D that we want to see, not some bland network route - because that is the only alternative.
So perhaps the picture at the top of this piece was perfect for its time? With the world awash with cheap oil, economic growth still a reality and with most people owning, or aspiring to own, a car, perhaps our railways did need a bit of a rest, if only for a few decades. It was closed, decaying railways that got me interested in railways in the first place - we'll never see their like again!