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!

Sunday, April 29, 2012

freight everywhere!

(Copyright The Rail Thing - 1962)

Just purchased by The Rail Thing is this slide of Templecombe shed in 1962 - ignore the copyright message!

Look at all the freight wagons around. This is just four years before the line was closed.

Idiot Beeching's biggest error was to deprive the railways of so much freight traffic because he simply didn't understand economics. The cost of maintaining and running freight wagons is minimal. A single load will probably pay for a wagon's maintenance for a year. The net effect of Beeching's attack on freight was to further reduce income, and further increase congestion on the roads. Next time you're stuck behind a lorry, churning out diesel fumes at 25 mph, remember that the freight should be on the railways, not the roads.

I fully expect Templecombe to contain even more freight wagons in 20 or 30 years' time, when the roads between towns no longer exist and rail is the only way to move things. Forget bulk loads, future rail freight will carry everything, though hopefully we won't be using quite as much stuff as we do now!


Keith Browning said...

Freight is always an interesting one. It was still on the agenda when Beeching arrived and the huge new terminal at Carlisle was testimony to that. However, coal production was already on the decline and so there had to be some sort of new strategy.

The answere was the Freightliner/Container business but that was never developed properly because of the refusal by dockworkers to play ball. If I remember correctly the Southampton container terminal lay idle for several years and this allowed Felixstowe to dominate, when previously it was just a piece of muddy estuary.

The other end of the spectrum was the many thousands of 'hand delivered' items that arrived on the customers front door. My father tells me that, as a child in the 1930s, his grandfather, who lived in Felixstowe, would regularly send the family, who lived in Colchester, a small consignment of fresh fish.

Grandpa bought the fish from the quayside and then took it to Felixstowe station about 9.00am. After arriving at Colchester station the fish would be delivered later that morning by a railway employee using a hand cart, just in time for lunch. Their home was over a mile from the station!

Those were the days.

Sunshiner said...

Still are the days in Switzerland. As well as pick up goods and block trains you still see small packages being loaded onto trains everywhere.

Once the lorry's no longer an option - and I don't even think they're attempting to build electric artics - the railways will offer the service again. I've a feature coming up using some press shots of the 50s showing the range of freight carried.

I do expect less freight generally to be handled in the future as we learn to live with less and repair items, grow our own food etc, but unless people are of the 'apocalypse' school of thought, then a lot of raw materials, finished products, small items, timber etc will need to be carried by rail.

Keith Browning said...

One thing that survived until fairly recently was the movement of livestock. Chickens, ducks and rabbits were all accepted until about 20 years ago. I know it hit many of the small holders hard when the railways ceased handling that business.

I see that the Bluebell have just built some stock pens with the intention of giving one station a market theme.

Knoxy said...

I like the fish story. A little lesson from history on integrated transport and how it was there in the 1930’s. This is how the S&D can show the way as a vertically integrated system, owned by the local community and businesses along the route.

Freight was just thrown away in the 1960’s and now it is there clogging up the roads, delaying us all and wearing out the roads, which we pay for! A double whammy. Pay to be delayed by road freight. Like Steve mentioned; there is plenty of talk about electric cars, but how big are the batteries on an electric truck? Can you imagine being stuck behind a 40 tonne version of an electric milk float? LOL

No quite frankly; I can’t…..

Sunshiner said...

Other than perhaps an electric trolley or small van delivering the final mile, I can see that this is exactly how freight will be moved in the future. Clean, quick, integrated, not dependant on fossil fuels and non polluting (if the electricity is renewables). Horses and carts will also have a role to play, as no doubt will the bicycle with a basket on the front!

Rather than whingeing like the dinosaurs I think we all need to take a SERIOUS look at how things are going to be moved around in the future. It's not the end of the world, just a return to how it's always been. The Oil Age will be seen historically as a rather strange little interlude where we rather lost our way. Things will be getting back to normal soon enough!

sebastian said...

One other thing that used to go by rail, was major touring theatre productions, usually early Sunday morning, the whole production moved together. Which when you think about it if restarted would take countless lorry's of the road as well as the busses and cars of the company. This all came to an end in late 1950s early 1960s. Largely as a result of Dr Beeching, and the then cheep fuel. As well as reliability issues of B.R, as much of the rolling stock was privately owned, a surviving example of this waggon is at Brockenhurst in use as a cycle hire business.

Sunshiner said...

We're only starting to scratch the surface of what will go by rail in the future. In Switzerland and the US big circuses have dedicated trains - they wouldn't dream of wasting hundreds of thousands on lorries to move the circus. Also in Switzerland they run library carriages which are coupled to a normal train, then dropped at each station in turn. No extra costs, excellent service and free from the end of oil.

The railways are going to be fantastically busy in the future!