Welcome to the 'New Somerset and Dorset Railway'
Monday, February 25, 2013
huge missed opportunity
I hope not too many of you took my advice and bought the Independent yesterday. If you did I can only apologise. The Beeching article was the most hideous load of nostalgic, irrelevant and uninformed tosh I have ever read. I'm ashamed that four of my pictures accompanied the article, fortunately they didn't put my name to them!
So what was wrong with it? It had lots of inaccuracies - that the SDRHT have extended a quarter of mile towards Bath for example. (In reality they've extended half a mile towards Chilcompton). The last Somerset coalfield did NOT close in 1966, the S&D was slewed to the Bristol-Frome line after closure of the S&D so it could continue to take coal from Writhlington for several more years. Looe is not in West Cornwall, and the St Ives branch is hardly English, it's Cornish!
But what really irked was the absolute patronising hatchet job it did on Midsomer Norton. In reality Midsomer Norton South is a fantastic revived station. Talk of eccentrics in stationmaster's caps selling a useless ticket to look around the site would just about turn anyone off visiting. In reality your ticket gives you a trip on their heritage DMU and access to the site, without an accompanying puffer lover eccentric ...
But the worst was the journalist's extraordinary assumption that - with the money and will - of course the line can be reopened, if only the land hadn't been sold off in parcels!! Talk about getting it the wrong way round!! Land is no problem, CPO's will get anything we can't get on the open market.
The point is the whole article stank of 70s defeatism, misplaced nostalgia and an utter contempt for the people - the vast majority who are NOT railway enthusiasts and are more likely to wear a fez and ballgown than a 'stationmaster's cap' - that have put so much effort in getting the line restored.
Not a single mention of Peak Oil, though the main paper often alludes to it, and no sweeping story about how railways are returning all over the country. Why not just declare out loud that BEECHING WAS WRONG? And that, because he was wrong, even back in 1963, we simply have to reverse what the idiot did? And that NOTHING will stand in the way of a huge rail revival in this country BECAUSE WE HAVE NO CHOICE!!
And the patronising drivel at the top of this page? This will become part of the iconography of the S&D. When the first real train runs on the line we will reproduce this as a poster, tee shirt, fridge magnet and a host of other souvenirs, making even more money for the line which despite what the 'journalist' claimed is going to be everything BUT the thing he thinks it will be!