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!

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

gartell news

Try to get along to the Gartell's Model Railway Exhibition on 11 and 12 February. There will also be regular trains running on the GLR, always the most chilled-out location on the S&D!

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Monday, January 30, 2012

keeping things moving

So how exactly ARE we going to keep going once all the cheap oil's gone? When will you give up driving, if you haven't already? When petrol hits £2 a litre? £3? £5? £10?  Or when the roads become too damaged and dangerous to use? Or when you go to twenty garages and not one of them has any fuel available?

A lot of people have already given up driving. You still see a few learner drivers on the road but how many of them will never actually own and run a car? How many young people will never even attempt to drive?

So how WILL we get around?

Rather than doing a big study I thought I'd narrow it right down. The pics are of the Hope and Anchor at Midford. This is the last pub surviving in the village. Some of their customers walk in or even cycle in, but most drive.

So how will this pub survive after Peak Oil hits us all? Simple - everything will come in by train or bike. They are wonderfully sited to allow both customers and freight to continue to arrive by rail. Perhaps some enterprising villagers will run a horse and cart service to reach outlying parts of the village? Or perhaps some local boffin will build an electric vehicle to do the same thing (as long as it has great suspension!). But whatever happens the starting point will be the station. The pub of course will have the easiest route of all, the platform ending just about by the pub entrance.

I can see, in twenty or thirty years time, a steady succession of passenger trains dropping off people (and picking them up) just to visit the pub. A pub that can offer the lowest prices for miles around because they get their supplies in so easily!

Frieght traffic will be very different from what we see today with the railways replacing 'white van man' for smaller deliveries, either by running dedicated pick up goods trains, or simply adding a few deliverable items to the guards compartment or a wagon or two attached to the slower passenger trains.

Everything will be more slowly paced, vastly more energy efficient and will use human power rather than machines to get things moving.
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Saturday, January 28, 2012

long arch bridge

Some shots of Long Arch Bridge, which forms the northern boundary of our land at Midford. This would also presumably form the southern boundary of the Up Goods Yard land. Judging by the SAD-17 marker in the bridge it's still owned and maintained by Network Rail. If we do proceed with developing a sustainable engineering facility at the Up Goods Yard it may be that we could negotiate rights to running through the bridge without having to take on the liability of ownership.

When we are running regular trains we'll be more than happy to take these redundant bridges, viaducts and tunnels over from BR Residual and Sustrans but until then I suspect they would be too big a drag on our finances to maintain with no clear cash flow emanating from them.
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Friday, January 27, 2012

history uncovered

Some shots taken on Wednesday showing the base of the station building at Midford. This is an incredible transformation from when we started - this whole area was buried under rubble and undergrowth, testimony to the amount of work the Midford Team have put in over the last 16 months!
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Thursday, January 26, 2012

the next step - what do you think

Whilst I appreciate that any project - perhaps especially one as big as ours - needs a little time to consolidate (but in a way that's what we're doing by setting up stand alone projects that have a reasonably sedate pace, mainly governed by money and human resources) I also don't think we should rest on our laurels too much!

Midford and Spetisbury are proceeding apace and will no doubt both be fully up and running within 3 years. At the same time a project as all-embracing and as important as ours needs to constantly be doing NEW things which will drive the whole project forwards.

My own view (and at the moment it is only my view!) is that project 3 should be a small sustainable engineering facility, where we can experiment with new electric and steam locomotives. It will need a building (S&D style!) and a few test tracks, standard gauge, narrow gauge and perhaps 15" gauge.

Of course there'd be loads of places along the route (and I'm not forgetting the branches!) where this could be set up, but yesterday I took the brave step of venturing beyond our bit at Midford, under the Long Arch Bridge. Just beyond is the old up goods yard - and suddenly I thought 'this would be ideal!' Not only is there a fair bit of room, there's even the old crane base to give us a link to the old S&D and, of course, the run up to the station if we wanted giving us about a quarter mile of standard gauge track, and there's room within the goods area for a few decent lengths of narrow gauge (2ft? Metre?) and 15".

What do you lot think?

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peak oil goes mainstream

Obviously the author and subjects of this piece don't have the qualifications, experience and brainpower of the late 'Compulsory Purchase Man', but this has just appeared in the mainstream media - and about time too. I suspect the next twenty years is going to be endless stories about Peak Oil - better get used to it!!

We've hit "peak oil"; now comes permanent price volatility

We've hit "peak oil"; now comes permanent price volatility

Since 2005, the global production of oil has remained relatively flat, peaking in 2008 and declining since, even as demand for petroleum has continued to increase. The result has been wild fluctuations in the price of oil as small changes in demand set off large shocks in the system.
In today's issue of Nature, two authors (the University of Washington's James Murray and Oxford's David King) argue that this sort of volatility will be all we can expect from here on out—and we're likely to face it with other fossil fuels, as well.

Limited supply

The notion of peak oil is a fairly simple one: oil is a finite resource and, at some point, we simply won't be able to extract as much as we had previously. There really is no getting around that limit for any finite resource. The issue that has made peak oil contentious, however, is the debate over when we might actually hit it. Murray and King are not the first to conclude that, even as the arguments were still going on, we had already passed oil's peak. Even though prices have gone up by about 15 percent per year since 2005, production has been largely flat.

The strongest argument against this being a real peak is the increasing volume of petroleum reserves reported by many countries. Even assuming those estimates were reliable (which the authors aren't entirely certain about), these reserves have clearly not enabled increased production. In the US, for example, production as a percentage of total reserves has dropped from nine percent to six percent over the last three decades.

"We are not running out of oil," the authors argue, "but we are running out of oil that can be produced easily and cheaply." This creates significant delays before any of the new reserves can be tapped, and it limits the amount of oil that can be economically extracted from them.

Non-conventional sources like oil sands have the potential to contribute to the global supply but, so far at least, they haven't managed to do so; current production estimates indicate that they won't any time soon.

The struggle to mobilize supplies has taken place against a backdrop of falling production and rising demand. Most established sources of oil are seeing declines in the area of five percent annually. Given that decline, it will be extremely difficult to meet demands projected for 2030—in fact, we'd have to add the equivalent of our total current production. In a fit of understatement, the authors deem this "very unlikely to happen."

Economic impacts

What are the consequences of being stuck at or near peak oil? The authors have produced a graph showing that, while supply is elastic enough to meet demand, prices stay stable. Once demand consistently exceeds supply, prices swing wildly. Murray and King term this a "phase transition" and suggest we'll be in the volatile phase from here on out.

That has some pretty significant consequences. Of the 11 recessions the US has experienced since World War II, 10 have been preceded by a sudden change in oil prices. The US isn't alone, either. Italy's entire trade deficit, which has contributed to its financial troubles, can be accounted for by the rise in imported oil. The world, it seems, has allowed its economies to become entirely dependent upon fossil fuels. "If oil production can't grow, the implication is that the economy can't grow either," the authors write. "This is such a frightening prospect that many have simply avoided considering it."
And it's not just oil that poses problems. US coal production peaked in 2002, and the global peak has been predicted to hit as soon as 2025. The last time global coal reserves were evaluated, in 2005, the total was cut by more than half compared to previous estimates. Fracking has boosted the production of natural gas dramatically, but even here the authors find some reasons for concern. Recent reports suggest that shale gas reserves have been overestimated, and many fields that have been in production for a while have experienced large declines in production.

The commentary concludes that we simply can't rely on any fossil fuel to provide a stable and economic source of energy for more than a couple of decades. And, given the economic shocks that result from rapid changes in energy prices, that's a serious problem. "Economists and politicians continually debate policies that will lead to a return to economic growth," the authors note. "But because they have failed to recognize that the high price of energy is a central problem, they haven't identified the necessary solution: weaning society off fossil fuel."

This weaning will require a large deployment of efficiency measures, nuclear power, and renewable energy sources. All of this will take time, which is why efforts need to be started now, the authors argue. (Not mentioned, but equally true, is the probability that taking these measures will smooth out the impact of reaching peak fossil fuel production.) Unfortunately, since most governments are unwilling to admit the prospect of indefinite economic stagnation due to our reliance on fossil fuels, they've been unable to generate the political will to even begin these efforts. Murray and King clearly hope their commentary will help get the ball rolling.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

midford today

Quick trip up to Midford today - and was presented with this picture of neatness and tidiness! It's amazing how much has been achieved here with just a few people in just over a year.

The bases of both the oil store and the station building are now clear to see, so hopefully it won't be long before rebuilding starts. That is when the New S&D revival at this end of the line will become really exciting!
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Tuesday, January 24, 2012

the begiining of the end for oil ...

This is an interesting development, and rather unexpected at this point in the energy cycle, but goes some way to prove that oil is a dying industry with fixed costs coming under pressure as demand falls and supply gets tighter.

Coryton refinery job fears after Petroplus go bankrupt

Hundreds of jobs at the Coryton oil refinery in Essex are under threat after Swiss owner Petroplus said it would file for bankruptcy.

The government has said the refinery, which supplies 20% of fuel for south-east England, is still operating.

Administrator PricewaterhouseCoopers says the priority is for work at Coryton to continue without disruption.

Other firms say they will still be able to supply fuel, but petrol retailers fear diesel prices will spike.

Steven Pearson, on behalf of the administrator, said: "Our immediate priority is to continue to operate the Coryton refinery and the Teesside storage business without disruption while the financial position is clarified and restructuring options are explored."

He said there were plans to have a number of discussions during the next few days over the future of the site in Coryton and the business in Teesside.

Petroplus has said it will file for insolvency "as soon as possible" after failing to reach an agreement with creditors to extend deadlines for loan repayments.

'Part of community'

As well as refining oil for use as fuel, the Coryton site - which is one of eight refineries in the UK - also imports fuel from other countries which has already been refined.

Although several lorries left the site before 0730 GMT on Tuesday, there has been no reported movement since.

Russell Jackson, an employee and representative of the Unite union, told the BBC the refinery had been at the site since the 1950s and was very much part of the local community, which would be heartbroken if it closed.

"There are also many contractors that work on site and rely on Coryton for their living as well," he added.

"People don't know what's going to happen and are insecure about the future but people are hopeful something will be done to resolve the situation and a buyer might be found."

He said he hoped the government was concerned about the situation, and warned the UK should not have to solely rely on its energy needs coming from third parties or imports.

East of England MEP Richard Howitt also said he feared petrol supplies would be affected.

He told BBC Radio 5 Live the job losses would have a "devastating impact" on the local economy.

"I don't want to be alarmist about this, but I don't want to be dishonest either.

"Supplies across London and the South East could be affected, and I have been told this could impact the Olympics."

BP is a major customer of the refinery in Coryton, and said it would be watching the situation very closely.

Essar Oil, which owns the Stanlow refinery in Ellesmere Port, has agreed to supply significant volumes of both diesel and petrol to BP, the BBC understands.

Brian Madderson of the Retail Motor Industry (RMI), which represents petrol retailers, told the BBC he expected prices to rise for a number of reasons.

He said the European Union embargo on Iranian supplies of crude oil, the Coryton issues and striking tanker drivers in Lincolnshire were all creating pressure for the industry.

"All of that is going to mean further pressure on price as we have to import for product, and I can see a new record for diesel within days."

The striking Lincolnshire drivers, who work for road haulage firm Wincanton, are in a dispute over pay and conditions.

Unite said the seven-day walkout by 100 of its members, will affect fuel supplies to many Jet garages.
'Financial position'

But discussing the Coryton site, a Department of Energy and Climate Change spokesman said: "We understand that a process is under way to put in place the necessary commercial arrangements to deliver the product into the market.

"Companies have already made alternative arrangements to ensure adequate supply of products are available while these commercial arrangements are being put in place."

Coryton refinery. There has been very little movement at the refinery since the announcement was made.

ExxonMobil, the owner of the Fawley Refinery on Southampton Water, told the BBC its stock levels for London and the South East remained good and it would continue to deliver to forecourts as normal.

Meanwhile, it has emerged that although Heathrow Airport has one underground pipe taking jet fuel from Coryton, it also has several others it can rely on and therefore is not believed to have any "immediate worries" for now.

after the worst - the best!

After the trouble from trolls this week (aka Compulsory Purchase Man) it was great to get the following in one of the comments sections - which I think captures very well the special magic of the S&D, past, present and future!

Well,got to admit that a recently published Peak Oil graph (presented by the New S&D Group) was pretty disturbing.It depicted current oil production hopelessly outstripping new discoveries. Don't forget that even electric vehicles need to have their power centrally generated. Road and air travel to finish?- he could be right. We could be talking semi -apocalypse or a radical change in society with its values and habits. There's a ring of truth in what he's saying and I know he's genuinely gathering support. The standard replies and rebuttals don't stack up-they are just the same old crap-something is going to happen-something akin to the St Paul's demo-some kind of quiet revolution-or even a louder one. There's something mystical about the counties of Somerset and Dorset-I'm on that wavelength. There's something magical about the S&D too-Donald had the feel for it...'Eddystone' survived for a reason -'Braunton' also-and all those 9F's! New S&D could well be a stamping ground for the PPM-there must be a not necessarily logical reason for all this fundamental back to basics thinking.Extreme maybe-impossible never! Even the New S&D don't know what they've got in their hands-but at least they admit it!

And on the subject of trolls - there'll be no more of this. He made the fatal mistake of sending me a vile and ignorant comment yesterday (unpublished) just as my mum was undergoing open heart surgery. This was not appreciated, as you can imagine.

Worse is that this troll (Compulsory Purchase Man) was in reality an Occupy Bristol character who I'd crossed in a completely different context and forum. Occupy don't accept Peak Oil at all, so it seems we were an 'easy' target!

No more trolls - I promise. The comments section is moderated, and no more of this ignorant, personal and bitchy rubbish will get through. ALL other comments will go through, as always, even if they query certain aspects (but not the whole plan) of the New S&D, because dialogue is essential at every stage in the rebuilding of the S&D.

Thanks for all the orders and new memberships that have come along in the wake of Compulsory Purchase Man's comments! Especially the large DVD order which had 'one in the eye for Compulsory Purchase Man' written boldly across it!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

compusory purchase man rises again!

Okay, I admit it, I had a bit of fun with the poster now known as 'Compulsory Purchase Man'. He began to run down everything we were doing, I answered his points in a restrained and I think informed manner, but he then went on to claim, in all seriousness, that nobody takes any notice of compulsory purchase orders. This marked him, to me, as a non-serious poster, a joker or a troll.

He promised not to make any more comments but this gem has just arrived -

I also thought by the way that this was a forum to express personal view's [sic]. You obviosly[sic] can't take comments that are slightly negitive[sic] towards the full reinstatement of the line without trying to make those statements seem fool hardy[sic]. It's a case of you can dish it but you can't take it. I have shown your comments on here to other rail ethusiasts i[sic] know and they also agree the S/D can't go back the way it was. But fully support each project.

Hmmm. So he's now running to other railway enthusiasts yet they are still saying they support us? I don't get it. He seems to know me so well! I pondered a little on this, and finally responded as follows -
I think the main point is that this is a group/forum for people who want to rebuild the S&D. There are a lot of people giving up a lot of time making this happen. In reality all the members of the New S&D accept that the S&D will be rebuilt - that's no longer the issue, HOW we do it is what's important now.

So if a few people - who always have agendas of their own - try to drag the argument backwards but without any actual information, evidence, analysis what is the point? What do they want - for us to declare the whole project dead in the water, and for us to return to doing nothing? What exactly do they want??

A few times I've asked these posters what their credentials and qualifications are and not once have any of them got back to me! So I have to conclude that these are merely personal opinions with no grounding in reality but instead in prejudices and ignorance.

We have to move with the times. In a few decades there will be no more road traffic or air traffic, there simply won't be enough energy available. And not ONE poster has ever challenged this assertion with facts and figures. We may have a few electric vehicles connecting stations to outlying farms, shops etc, but these will be extremely expensive and really just waiting for rail to reach them. This is the future into which the New S&D - and hundreds of other lines round the country - is moving in to. I'm sorry that that upsets some people - heritage railway fans, petrolheads, Occupy, utopians etc - but what's the point of pretending it's not happening?

At the heart of the New S&D, ironically, are rail enthusiasts of the broadest sort, who loved the old S&D and want to preserve at least some aspects of it when the line's rebuilt. The alternative isn't a closed S&D - that was a temporary aberration from a different age - but, to paraphrase Mick Knox, a bland reopened network route hemmed in by palisade fencing.

Is this really what people want, because I don't!

The S&D deserves the very best, it deserves people that will FIGHT for its future and the people that have already realised this and are doing the work surely have the right to ignore those that would want to drag us back to the 1960s? Especially if there's absolutely nothing underpinning their arguments?

The simple fact is all this 'should the S&D reopen' nonsense was done and dusted five years ago. We've moved on. The New S&D was born from the winning of that argument. The argument now is clearly not 'should it happpen' but 'HOW do we make it happen?' That's where we are now. And it's so important to put the S&D at the top of the queue, because this is now starting to happen everywhere! Just be pleased that there are people giving us loads of time and money to do it, with more joining us all the time.

My gift for restraint amazes me sometimes! There is a certain value in this sort of comment because it often opens up a stream of conciousness from which emerges some interesting points.

The main one is that the New S&D only really happpened AFTER the argument about whether there was a case for reopening the S&D was settled. The second, and this in context to yesterday's AGM is really interesting, is that what's the problem even to people who still don't 'get' Peak Oil and the New S&D that our aim is to restore the WHOLE line? Who does that threaten? We have a good deal of heritage fans within our ranks and the rest are certainly sympathetic to the original S&D. We don't threaten to destroy the memory of the S&D, quite the opposite. Many of our members are also members at Shillingstone, Midsomer Norton and Washford. I myself am a Life Member at Midsomer Norton and a regular member at Shillingstone.

Continuing on this it's important to stress that the constitution of the New S&D charges us to restore the WHOLE route. It's at the absolute heart of the New S&D. Nothing less will do. But this doesn't mean that we expect to restore the whole line next week. Within that overarching ambition are the far smaller ambitions of restoring Midford and Spetisbury, ambitions in their own way far smaller than anything Midsomer Norton and Shillingstone currently have! This is a gradual, step by step, leveraged project. None of us know how we are going to restore the whole S&D. That's for the future, twenty, thirty, perhaps even forty years down the line. We can only do our small bit, now.

What happens in the real world out there will affect the pace at which the New S&D is restored. We still have very cheap fuel, but that price is illusory. There are many hidden subsidies and prejudices that keep the price low, but with current cuts they won't last forever. Cheap fuel is still easy to source but the peak has now been reached, probably a few years ago, and continuing growth in places like India and China, coupled with falling production, will soon begin to be reflected in the price of oil, and everything that depends on cheap oil. This is not contentious, yet some ill informed posters seem to think it's all conjecture. They are of course entitled to their opinion, but to me the value of one's opinion is intimately linked to the knowledge, qualifications and expertise of the person with the opinion ... and in this case the commentator seriously suggested that nobody takes any notice of compulsory purchase orders, which immediately devalued everything else he said!

At the end of the day there are an increasing number of well-educated, qualified and experienced people who are joining the New S&D cause. Our energy should be directed at getting the S&D back, not wasted on arguing with people who couldn't care less about the S&D and haven't even armed themselves with the information to make their 'point'.

Personally this is the last time I'll engage with this issue, and I'm only doing this for nostalgic reasons! If it does come up ever again - and I doubt it will - I'll simply direct the poster to this blog post!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

agm 2012

Back from an excellent New S&D AGM! Good attendance with members and visitors coming from Bournemouth, Bath, Herefordshire and Weston. The venue was excellent and we had a fun meeting (should AGMs be fun?) and set the New S&D on course for this year.

Main developments of course are Midford and Spetisbury, both of which should proceed to planning permission at some time either this year or next. Plans for Midford should be drawn up shortly, Spetisbury will follow after the site has been cleared and we can see what's in place!

We've certainly moved from the initial stages where most questions involved whether an S&D revival was practical! We are now actually facing the realities of the step by step reinstatement of this important main line - which in a way is far more interesting and certainly more rewarding, if a little more complex!

Expect a lot of new developments in 2012. We really do now have an excellent team in place to speed up this most important task - but there is always room for more to join us!

Friday, January 20, 2012

steam journeys from bristol

Also added to our ecoomerce site - can be ordered here.
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railways of bristol

Just added to our ecommerce site and available here.
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steam around bristol

Available at tomorrow's AGM or on line here.
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Thursday, January 19, 2012

peak oil basics

I try not to mention Peak Oil too often, even though it does rather underpin everything the New S&D is about, but I'm not the proselytising sort.

However over the past few weeks there have been some amazingly ill-informed comments on this blog which suggest that at least a proportion of visitors don't have a clue what Peak Oil means either to the world or to them personally.

For this reason I'm linking to this site which is a basic Peak Oil primer. Please try to read this before barging in with daft comments!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

towards car-free towns

Something I hear occasionally is that 'we can't survive without cars and lorries'. But of course we can and, in a few places, already do. For example Wengen, Murren and Zermatt in Switzerland are all car free, and rely entirely on the train to bring in visitors and freight. They cheat a little with the sort of small electric vehicles seen in the bottom picture, but these may well survive peak oil on self contained roads within communities. Such roads would not need the high levels of maintenance that interurban roads do and could be maintained by the communities which they serve. Larger factories, shopping areas and markets would probably be better served by light railways bringing in goods and taking out finished materials. All rails - and roads - would of course lead to the station, which will become the hub of activity and centre of every community.

There are two totally car free places in the British Isles - Herm and Sark in the Channel Islands.

And others throughout the world - check out this list!

midwinter midsomer

A great shot from Mick Knox taken in December. As always bear in mind that in the early nineties this site almost disappeared under housing development! In the middle distance you can see the DMU which has really given Midsomer Norton the status of a heritage railway rather than just a museum, operating regular trains for fare paying customers.

In many ways the site at Midsomer Norton has already surpassed the rather coy ambitions from its early days (a steam museum with a short demonstration line) and is of course only just at the start of a long and exciting journey into railway history!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

more new track ...

An interesting development in Gloucestershire - the last couple of paragraphs are to me the most interesting as the promoter has a very interesting (and to me correct)  take on the number of heritage lines and the surfeit of locos and stock!

Work begins on railway line between Sharpness and Oldbury

Work has started on a new heritage steam railway line in Gloucestershire.

The Beaver line, which stands for Berkeley Vale Railway, will link tourist attractions and businesses between Sharpness and Oldbury Power Station.

The project is being led by Pro Active Vision, a community group made up of steam enthusiasts and local businesses.

Conservative MP for Stroud Neil Carmichael is helping them to secure community funding.

He hopes the investor-led project will benefit from a donation from the government's new Coastal Communities Fund.

He said: "This is an interesting way of thinking about developing a part of the constituency, and I think it should be given the appropriate support. Obviously there will be challenges but the overall objectives are absolutely perfect."

The line will work both to transport the goods of local businesses and link tourists with local attractions such as Sharpness docks, Slimbridge Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust, Berkeley Castle and the Jenner Museum.

Mr Carmichael added: "Local people - a community group - are getting going with a really interesting idea and a business as well. Linking both of those together and making it possible for people to travel up and down on a steam train would be absolutely fantastic."

The land, which has been leased to Pro Active Vision by Network Rail, is being cleared across the four-mile wide area and track is being laid.

The group's David Heathcote said a lot of the infrastructure is already in place.

He said: "The branch line is already there and it's running, albeit not in brilliant condition, and it will take very slow trains. The rest of the infrastructure is very flat land with ease of being able to put a new light railway development down at a very, very low cost."

Mr Heathcote added that due to a surplus of rolling stock around the country and a lack of heritage lines, he is confident he can find trains and carriages to run on the line.

He said: "Very many people have rolling stock around the country - there are a lot of enthusiasts about. So there is a great deal of this rolling stock that doesn't get a chance to be operated in this heritage railway scenario."

Friday, January 13, 2012

what made bournemouth great

Michael Portillo visited Bournemouth yesterday during his 'Great British Railway Journeys' series. He covered the history of the town, but missed the most important aspect of Bournemouth's rise - the S&D!

The London route was (and still is) fairly important but it was the S&D which really brought Bournemouth to life, bringing in holidaymakers from the Midlands and the North in their millions. How many of them today dare brave the same journey using Britain's antiquated road network?

As climate change warms our seaside resorts up - even with the downside of massive storms like the one that hit Bournemouth just as we arrived last August - and as Peak Oil kills air travel and pushes road travel beyond the means of 95% of us, it won't be long before Bournemouth becomes so busy that there'll be a procession of trains bringing the tourists in - including a new Pines express!

What a gem we have at each end of our line!
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