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!

Saturday, December 31, 2011

corfe mullen

(All copyright Geoff Newman)

Some excellent shots from Geoff Newman, our Track bed Steward for the region south of Bailey Gate. These were all taken around Corfe Mullen just south east of the old level crossing over the A35. This section looks quite easy to restore!

Friday, December 30, 2011

midford 28 december 2011

(Copyright Tom Seale)

Latest report from Midford -

We had a good session at Midford today. Tom and I were joined by Will Cummings, who came up from Wells. A lot of time was spent clearing the bank above the platform but there was great difficulty in keeping a good footing on the loose steep soil deposits. After some undergrowth had been cleared we saw that it was the bunnies that were responsible for the dirt on the platform as there were burrows to be seen higher up. The trees have done quite a lot of damage to the rockface in splitting it up and we pulled down a good number of loose rocks. There was a nasty hailstorm later in the morning that didn't help matters at all. After lunch I set to with the task of burning up all the cut branches whilst the other two cleared more of the bank. After clearing an area above the delaminated bricks in the retaining wall and the dip in the platform, Tom found a 4 inch earthenware pipe that seemed to be discharging water from the property above - this needs to be investigated as it could possibly be responsible for the damage being sustained on our property.
The fire ran to near 5pm and we managed to burn all of the cut wood, which makes the place look a lot tidier.
Favourable and encouraging comments were made by passers-by.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

spetisbury - 2012?

An EXCELLENT shot of Spetisbury courtesy Jim Type. This is the clearest pic I have yet seen with detail of the main station building. This is very different from the wooden station building at Midford, so we are going to need a real mix of skills to rebuild these two sites.

Hopefully within a few years we'll be able to recreate this scene - but with hi-vis vests of course! And perhaps just the one track for now ...
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Saturday, December 24, 2011

next midford work party

Work off all that Christmas excess by joining the next work party at the S&D's most iconic location at Midford?

This just in from Stuart Seale -

Tom and I will be down at Midford this Wednesday, 28 December from about 10am ish carrying on with the clearance of the bank above the platform. We'll probably finish off the burning after lunch.
Any assistance welcomed.

happy christmas

I'd like to wish a very merry Christmas to everyone who has been involved - at Midford, Spetisbury, Midsomer Norton, Shillingstone, Gartell and Washford - in the great S&D 21st century revival. We've seen huge progress at Midsomer Norton with extension of the line, regular passenger services and the acquisition of a working DMU. Shillingstone have made magnificent progress both around the station area and with tracklaying. Gartell are continuing their excellent narrow gauge work with an extension starting to happen. Washford have the challenge of working towards a new base - surely on the S&D? - and the New S&D, mainly through the hard work of the Seales - has cleared the iconic station at Midford. And just as the year ends Spetisbury is joining the ranks of restored S&D sites. Stations are being rebuilt, trains are starting to run, few now doubt that the S&D will return as a main line modern railway as we get further into the 21st century. These are extremely exciting times and the S&D's best years are ahead of it!

Friday, December 23, 2011

more development

Back in the olden days when a lot of people thought the railways were on their way out the main line between Salisbury and Exeter was singled. This was an unmitigated disaster because the long stretches of single track without passing loops almost guaranteed delays.

Of course time's moved on, the line is now reasserting itself as a proper main line, and several stations (including our beloved Templecombe) have reopened. But it's nothing compared to what will happen in the future. Redoubling of the whole route is inevitable, as is reopening many of the closed stations, together with restored branches and of course the S&D which joins the line at Templecombe.

To help speed the process along please sign this petition which calls for the redoubling of the whole line.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

sleeping with the enemy

Just listed on the New S&D e-commerce site is the latest DVD from First Take, who have also produced excellent S&D DVDs (which can also be bought on the site!)
Yes, I know, it's the GWR, but hopefully most of you are interested in more than just our line, even if it is the best in the world!
Cost is just £14.95 plus £1.25 post and packing and can be ordered by clicking here.

Each copy sold raises £4.50 for the New S&D.
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Wednesday, December 21, 2011

the new railway

Someone on the Shillingstone Facebook group sadly posted a petition to renationalise the rail network! I wasn't alone in pointing out how daft and unworkable this idea is! My last (final?) post on this issue goes as follows -

I think you just have to look at today's railway - busier than at any time since the 20s, freight on the rise, stations and lines reopening and a real buzz. This is no coincidence. This is because private enterprise now sees the value in working hard to promote the railways. The Swiss model is the best, with most lines being private yet having much of the equity owned by the communes, towns, cantons, and local individuals through which the lines run. Compare it with the mess that BR was, through no fault of its own, but because it was used as a political football. The real story of the complicity between Labour, Tory, Marples, Beeching and the vile road lobby has yet to be told. Renationalisation is impossible as the cost of buying back the infrastructure would place a charge on a new nationalised railway that would take decades - and genuinely HUGE fare rises - to pay back. Nationalisation is never an economic move, only ever a POLITICAL one, and we've seen what politics can do to the railways! The world is changing (despite what Occupy and most politicians tell us) and the future will be far more localised, almost totally rail-based and will be robustly capitalist. There's no point looking backwards through rose-tinted specs at a cosy past that never really existed. We have to work with what we've got, and with what we've got coming!

not just us ...

Still fighting Beeching's cuts

Campaigners want to get passenger trains running again on a line in Northumberland 44 years after the axe fell on the service as part of Dr Beeching's cuts.

In June 2008 a passenger train ran on the Ashington, Blyth and Tyne railway line for the first time in more than 40 years.
It was part of a campaign by the South East Northumberland Rail User Group (Senrug) to bring back a passenger service to the line.
It was timely as 2008 is the 45th anniversary of Dr Richard Beeching's report into the rail network, The Reshaping of British Railways, which led to the closure of 2,000 stations and the uprooting of 5,000 miles of track.
One of the sections hit was the Ashington, Blyth and Tyne line which meant the last passenger train between Newcastle and Ashington ran in 1964.

Train showing Ashington destination. Photo: John Brierley Train showing the Ashington destination

Help regeneration

Campaigners are convinced it would make sense to reintroduce passenger trains to the line to help commuters and regenerate the area.
South East Northumberland Rail User Group deputy chairman John Earl said it was difficult to understand all the decisions made under the Beeching review.
He said: "It's hard to say that they shouldn't have closed some of the lines because obviously they were unprofitable but some of them I just can't see why they were closed.
"If you look at some that survived the rationale isn't clear."
John said the decision to close the line cut off that area of Northumberland from the mainstream and Senrug believes restoring passenger services would boost regeneration and help commuting by cutting the number of cars on the road.
The line is still used for freight trains and is sometimes used by trains diverted from the East Coast Mainline.
In June 2008, Senrug ran three passenger trains on the line and tickets sold out.
It ran a petition which closed in March 2008 with 1,200 signatures on it.

Reverse historical trend

John said while there was a level of nostalgic interest in terms of people remembering trains running on the line, that was not what it was about.
He said: "It's not just nostalgia, it is very practical. We are not preservationists in whatever form. We want to run a proper mainline service.
Passengers crossing Wansbeck Viaduct. Photo: John Brierley Passengers crossing Wansbeck Viaduct

"It's the ideal line for it. There is not another line in the UK that has the rails and has the good will."
Senrug is proposing the line is reopened in stages with the first to extend the existing Newcastle to Morpeth services so they would also stop at Choppington and Bedlington. It estimates the cost would be £4m.
A study is currently being done into the cost of extending the service to Ashington.
Further plans would involve a station being built at Woodhorn for rail access to the museum and Wansbeck General Hospital.
And phase three would involve opening the southern section from Benton up through Seaton Delaval and Bebside to Bedlington.
John said: "There are plenty of us around the country on various different projects who are trying to reverse the historical trend.
"I do think this is the most important one to open first. It would benefit so many people. I am sure so many people would use it."

pre christmas buzz

There suddenly seems to be a real S&D buzz everywhere at the moment! Midsomer Norton has taken delivery of a DMU so can operate real train services at last! Shillingstone is heading south at a fast pace. Midford is almost cleared and ready to see its buildings put back. Spetisbury is just about to join the S&D fold. Washford will begin actively looking for a new site soon. The Gartell is providing regular steam trips south of Templecombe.

To me the best of all this is that the S&D groups are beginning to pull together and dare I suggest that this is because we're beginning to see a vision of a restored whole route beginning to register with everyone involved with the S&D? When Midsomer Norton started back in the early 90s this vision was enshrined in its constitution, we have always had it as our primary aim at the New S&D and there are lots of rumblings about reaching Spetisbury and Blandford down at Shillingstone. This is great news, and the S&D deserves nothing less.

Of course nobody pretends that this is going to be easy, cheap or without certain hurdles. Although the vast majority of the route is clear (over 95%) there are some annoying blockages, none too big to be overcome of course. And probably 95% of the population still haven't 'got' Peak Oil - and laughingly think fuel prices are already expensive! But every day things get easier, and more and more people are joining and getting actively involved with the great S&D restoration.

Think things are buzzing now?? Come back in ten years' time!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

good news!

The New S&D has no plans to stand still and with Midford not far from reaching the stage where we can start rebuilding the station, it's time for Dorset to share in the great rail revival that is sweeping across Somerset and Dorset. We expect Spetisbury to be in our hands very soon!

The following is a report from Dean Cockwell, who has been co-ordinating the Spetisbury effort. This is from 8 December, 2011.

Well, we had our meeting with Richard from the council and Giles the ranger. Anna-Jayne, Mike Hall, Chris and Kevin Brettell were there with me. And it was good to put names to faces, and I would like to thank all of you again for coming. It was a bit breezy, and we did have a short shower, but it takes more than that to put us off.
It went very well and some good points came out of it.
Firstly they are very keen that we wanted to clear the platforms, for one thing it reduces Giles' workload as he wont have to keep going there and cutting back the tall bushes that sprout across the trailway. and they don't have any objections for buildings to be built in keeping with the original design. They don't see a problem with the idea of us using them as an information centre with a light snacks kiosk.
What they have mentioned is public liability insurance. Is that something that you have in place at Midford, and could it be extended to include Spetisbury?
Richard is going to see if he can locate plans of the buildings, but if he cant find them he has suggested that I ask at the historical information centre based in Dorchester. Giles has suggested that I speak to the conservation guy within the council, who may be able to guide/ help us with conserving the natural heritage of Spetisbury.
It was also suggested that a meeting with the local parish council would be advantageous, to give them a 'heads up' of our plans for the future or the station site. They also warned us that we might get opposition to us clearing the platforms, especially on the village side, due to the elevated position of the station in relation with the houses, which would be overlooked.
One suggestion that was talked about after Richard and Giles left, was that we could erect some sort of fencing to replace the trees and bushes that provided privacy to the house owners. The result would be that you would be able to see across the Stour valley, just as you could before, but you would not be able to see down into the properties directly below the station.
Richard thinks that we may be offered some form of lease agreement, but was not sure at the time of the meeting.
They talked about planning permission, but as Anna stated, that until we have cleared the platforms and found what we had to work with, it would be difficult to put in an accurate set of detailed plans for planning permission.
It was also mentioned that parking has to be considered, especially as there is no adjacent parking facilities. We also have to think about the potential numbers of people that might visit the area and what impact that would have on the area, especially vehicles which is going to be a difficult one because of the parking issue. There is street parking, but this is along the main A350 road, and could be non existent at certain times of the day, so this is going to need a bit of thinking about. They did mention the local school, but I would have to investigate that avenue before we could offer it within our plans.
Oh! Nearly forgot, Kevin Brettell had brought a spade with him and did some small exploratory work and found that possibly we may have no platform surface apart from the few slabs that are viewable along the edge of the up platform. Looking at the photos, there does not seem to be any stone slabs on the down platform, but until we get started on clearing them, its difficult to say with any certainty.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011


I rather underestimated the jetlag, the pile of work waiting for me and the sheer amount of time a new kitten requires, so sorry for the lack of posts. Hopefully I'll be able to get on with them tomorrow!

There's plenty on modern transport, Bristol's upcoming fake trams and great news from Spetisbury to come!
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Friday, December 09, 2011

shillingstone - amazing progress!

Judging by the amazing progress at Shillingstone it won't be long before they reach Blandford!

For up to date info on Shillingstone please take a look at their facebook group.

Thursday, December 08, 2011

back from new york

A few rail and transport related tasters from our fantastic visit to New York. More to follow - plus Spetisbury news! Need to just get over the jet lag first ...
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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

a week of peace

For you lot - not me!

We're off to New York for a week tomorrow so I'll be taking a break from the blog until next Thursday. But please keep your comments and emails coming!

another cross country line starts to stir

The Didcot, Newbury and Southampton Railway appears to be stirring from 50 years of deep sleep!
Rex Hora is looking into practical ways of restoring most of this route, primarily for freight.

The DNS was a bit of a dark sister to the S&D with its cross-country services, north-south orientation, its mix of double and single track and weight of traffic. It closed a little earlier, with Newbury to Shawford closing around 1960, the Newbury to Didcot section remaining open a few more years, and a short stretch remaining open to freight for a little longer. It was an incredibly busy route in WWII, but declined quickly afterwards.

With the need for increased rail capacity and the inevitable shift of freight from road to rail I suspect the DNS's time will soon come! Who knows, bearing in mind the above, that separate route from Winchester to Southampton may even eventually be built!

Rex has set up a basic website here - let him know you support him!

Friday, November 25, 2011

come on ...

Possibly the daftest of all rail closures was Uckfield to Lewes in 1969. Even when railways were in decline this closure made no sense at all. It turned a through route into a dead end branch. I suspect the idea was that once this section was closed the rest of the line would follow. Of course since then the world has changed completely, railways are in the ascendent and are desperate for more capacity.

The whole trackbed is safeguarded, so the intention to reopen is clear. Once open the line will offer loads of new opportunities including a diversionary route from Brighton to London and easy access for Uckfield and Crowborough residents to get to the south coast. Whole new commuting opportunities will also arise.

Here's the latest developments in parliament on this essential route.

Villiers reaffirms interest in Lewes–Uckfield to Baker PrintE-mail
In a letter about the threat of another East Sussex County Council road scheme slicing across the safeguarded Lewes–Uckfield trackbed, Rail Minister Theresa Villiers appears eager to reassure her departmental colleague and Coalition partner Norman Baker.

She told him “Given the importance of the points raised by Robert Chubb [sic] in his letter, and my personal interest in this issue, there were various matters on which I asked for further briefing from officials.” She also made the point “I am very much aware of your long-standing support for re-opening the Lewes–Uckfield line” and said he was “correct that both parties in the Coalition have expressed support for protecting track beds where possible”.

She referred to the route being “safeguarded by both Wealden and Lewes District Councils” as part of the changeover towards “Local Development Frameworks”. This shifts responsibility away from County Councils following the abolition of County Structure Plans.

Mrs Villiers said she had spoken to the DfT’s Head of Property, Malcolm Twite who “assures me that the plans have been specifically designed to ensure that they would not prevent the Lewes–Uckfield line from re-opening in the future”. She had also been advised that “the proposal to move the road could actually make it easier to put together a case for re-opening the railway. This is because a re-opening would, in all likelihood, require a bridge to be constructed.” She continued “Although there was a level crossing when the line was formerly in use, you will appreciate that the current policy of Network Rail and ORR is not to introduce new level crossings. I am advised that it would be easier and more cost effective to build a bridge over the railway using the new alignment for the road rather than the current one.”

However, BML2 project manager Brian Hart said “Firstly, we are advised that the County Council, as the Local Transport Authority with wide-sweeping powers, will be able to override any so-called ‘safeguarding’ by the less-powerful district councils, so I fear this is a hollow guarantee. Secondly, no one has ever suggested the old level crossing should be reopened because it’s quite obvious a bridge will be necessary. The problem is that the County Council intends slicing the critically-important station site completely in two with this new ground level road. This will worsen the business case for reopening because the road will have to be elevated over the station and railway, or moved elsewhere to allow trains to pass through. This is simply loading costs onto Network Rail.

Mrs Villiers also mentioned the impact a redevelopment of the site would have on the trackbed. She told Norman that the BRBR (the Rail Property Board) would “retain ownership of the freehold” – although this refers only to a narrow linear strip which would be used as car parking associated with the new buildings. “A term would be
included in the contract giving BRBR the right to terminate the lease in the event that the land is required to re-open the railway. This option has been deliberately selected in order to ensure that the land could be taken back promptly if re-opening became a viable proposition”.

An unimpressed Brian Hart said “It’s unclear who will retain ownership as the BRBR is supposed to be on David Cameron’s ‘Bonfire of Quangos’ so how can a body being abolished take back the land? More importantly, though, I’m afraid the minister is not being given the whole picture and the valid concerns of Network Rail and many others need to be taken into account. Any reopening of this line – whether just as Lewes–Uckfield as Norman Baker wants – or as part of BML2, will necessitate the relocation of Uckfield station to its original site. The town’s station cannot go anywhere else. The cramped terminus opposite is on an embankment constrained by the river with just one reversible line from London, whilst the single platform straddles the former Down Main Line which was dismantled in 1990 to accommodate it.”

The plans Network Rail supplied for the ill-fated County Council-led 2008 Lewes–Uckfield Re-opening Study, show two 12-car platforms either side of a double-track railway will need to be constructed on the original site. This is right where Rupert Clubb, ESCC’s Director of Economy, Transport and Environment, intends building his road to manage additional in-town traffic demand from housing development in Uckfield which hasn’t yet occurred. Brian Hart added, “It looks to be a pre-emptive strike in a final effort to stop the line ever reopening and settle the matter ‘once and for all’ to use the aspiration once uttered by ESCC’s appointed chairman overseeing the 2008 re-opening study.”

Campaign chairman and Uckfield Deputy Mayor, Duncan Bennett said: “Given the astounding turnaround of the Uckfield line in recent years, the unimaginable rise in rail demand generally, as well as the looming capacity crisis facing the south’s main lines into London, it would be sheer folly to throw away this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Norman Baker is plainly right to say we need more capacity between the Sussex Coast and London and, as he says, investment in the Uckfield line is the only way we are ever going to achieve it”.

He went on to say “On a more local level, I am keen to see Network Rail get involved and take possession of Uckfield’s station site so it can be developed into a major transport hub. It may well be that at some point a new road may be required, but it must be properly-designed to accommodate the all-important railway. We must also take into account residents’ fears about serious flood risk posed by having another road bridge built at grade across the river. Uckfield is a booming and expanding town with a fantastic future and I am determined we get the best. The town desperately needs parking for commuters, as well as renewed rail links with the surrounding towns such as Lewes, Brighton and Eastbourne. I want to see imaginative and truly creative thinking deployed. This would be a good opportunity for Network Rail to demonstrate the flair it has shown with successful commercial station redevelopments in London and elsewhere. We can all be winners on this.”

Theresa Villiers concluded by saying to Norman “If I can be of any further assistance in this matter, please do not hesitate to contact me. I remain happy to discuss it at any time”. With the door open, we hope Norman will take up this invitation since he has been an immensely admirable, outstanding and long-standing campaigner on this subject.

“It was a tragedy that this line was ever shut. It survived Beeching only to be closed by the County Council. I have, with many others, been fighting for reinstatement for more than 15 years. The logic is unquestionable and the issue won’t go away. It is one of my ambitions in my political life to be at the reopening of the line and I intend to achieve it.” – Norman Baker 2004

“The case for reopening this line is overwhelming and any sane national transport policy would have achieved it by now.” – Norman Baker 2005

“I am becoming increasingly frustrated with the negativity of the Department for Transport, which refuses to recognise that there are now more rail passengers travelling each year than ever before, on a network about the half the size it was post-war, and react accordingly. Clearly we need more capacity on the network, and that must include reopening stations and sections of line that in most cases should never have been shut. Lewes-Uckfield is clearly one of those.” – Norman Baker 2008

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

where next for washford?

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

more masbury

(Copyright Mick Knox 17.2.2009)

Attached is a picture taken from the site of the DMU picture from May 1958 on the blog. This picture was taken in Feb 2009 and I believe the fence on the Upside of the DMU is the same fence, to the left of the fence in my picture? The approach to the former Masbury Summit Bridge (Oakhill Rd No 69) has been filled in, where the DMU is.

As an aside, this is a very nice shot of a quiet rural corner of Somerset. Imagine a motorway going through this! But at the same time imagine just how well the revived S&D will fit into this scene, one more HUGE advantage rail has over road. In fact from a short distance away the railway will completely blend in with the environment.

Another problem with busy roads is that there is a constant procession of vehicles, creating noise and pollution, and danger to other drivers as well as the many animals that take their lives in their hands when they cross roads. Even the busiest railway has gaps between trains, there's not an endless procession of trains causing the same problems. Hopefully there NEVER will be, despite the HUGE increase in rail traffic that is inevitable as the roads die. With long powerful trains and less need for people to travel to work there should be  a better balance of supply and demand - which will be the subject of a future blog post!
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masbury 2009

(Both copyright Mick Knox)

Further to the picture of the DMU at Masbury, Mick Knox has dug out some 2009 shots taken at or near the same location.

Former trackbed, without infill near bridge No 68, the one behind the DMU and another from the site of Bridge No 69, likely to have been behind the photographer of the DMU picture. It doesn’t look like he was standing on in it, although I wouldn’t know having never seen the bridge.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

midford today

Today's report (and photos) courtesy Stuart Seale.

We had our work party at Midford today. Tom and I were joined in the morning by Tony England and his Grandson Josh who made a grand job of clearing the fallen leaves from the platform and clearing the gutter at the base of the retaining wall. Hopefully with further clearance this winter we may be able to get rid of the leaf problem once and for all.

Tom and I concentrated in clearing the brickwork slabs that had been dumped behind the station buildings. We would have completed it but darkness set in. We removed all the brickwork but there is still a residue to dig out, which will make for a quick win at the start of our next session. Tom managed to exercise Thor's hammer again to great effect.

On our next visit we plan to finish the digging and then commence clearing the bank above the platform starting from the steps and working in a Northerly direction.

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dmu on the s&d


(Masbury 10.5.1958)

Took some finding but here's evidence that DMUs did work on the original S&D!

Friday, November 18, 2011

fantastic news!

(Photo copyright Jeremy Woodrow)

This is incredible news, probably the biggest S&D story of the last forty years. Midsomer Norton has taken delivery of a DMU, which will move them well up the ranks of new heritage lines. This will enable them to offer a real ride and should bring in thousands of extra visitors. I can't wait to get down there and photograph it. When I started there the track was only just beginning to reappear, the signalbox was a pile of stones, the up platform was practically a lawn and there was no loco or rolling stock, apart from a couple of old vans.

Some will say the S&D was always a steam line and the DMU is out of place, but DMU's did very occasionally run on the line up to 1966 on specials. Steam will come ... let's keep doing this a step at a  time.

More pics here.

Fantastic news all round!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

two futures

Scenario 1.

Scenario 2.

Here are two visions of 2025 taken from the excellent Busby Report on UK Survival in the 21st Century.

Britain in 2025

Here are two extreme scenarios - the first assumes that none of the recommended actions have been taken, the second assumes that all have been implemented.
Scenario 1
All significant oil and gas reserves are exhausted or have dwindled to an uneconomical level except for those of the Middle East. The USA managed to find some of its needs in the Gulf of Mexico and North Alaska, but these provided only a moderate amount and are now exhausted.
In South America weak governments failed due to the increase in conflict between them and the drug cartels and revolutionary forces. US troops moved in to maintain the running of the oil fields and refineries and were constantly under attack from armed groups so that when the reserves depleted they withdrew, leaving a devastated continent.
In order to revive its post-Communist economy Russia emptied its reserves, but retains its remaining modest oil and gas reserves for its own use, returning to a pre-revolution peasant society.
Following a revolution, and a failed counter-revolution supported by the USA, Islamic fundamentalists now govern Saudi Arabia, bringing Kuwait, Qatar and Bahrain into their hegemony. Only Oman, with British support, remains as a Sultanate. Iraq, after Saddam Hussein, retained a secular government which emptied its oil reserves to fund its economic recovery.
This result of this turmoil was that the only remaining oil reserves of any significance were denied to the West and were in any case needed for water de-salination to support life and irrigation of crops in areas of desert.
The USA seeing its life-style threatened had reacted militarily to these events, but this only succeeded in having its oil supplies from the Middle East cut off. This meant that it exhausted its remaining natural gas reserves for production of liquid fuels and petrochemicals feedstock. By mining its 25% of the world’s coal reserves, the USA supplies its heavy industry with energy, provides for domestic gas by coal gasification and manufactures liquid fuels for transport by coal liquefaction.
Moreover, using the extensive wind farms and with its technological ability it successfully implemented alternative energy programmes which are reserved for essential services like water, sewage and hospitals. The dominant communications industry allowed the creation of a more distributed mode of working and abandonment of massive office complexes.
On the other hand Europe, weakened by failing economies and massive immigration from an increasingly turbulent Third World is in turmoil having failed to implement sufficient alternative technologies and unable to secure adequate oil from the Middle East and gas supplies from Russia.
Britain failed to conserve its oil and gas reserves by exploiting them for short-term profit and tax revenues, using them up by 2010 and, due to the high cost and shortage of imported oil and gas, stagnated. The shortage of liquid fuels led to the collapse of the motor and aircraft manufacturing industries. Capital which could have been employed to create an alternative energy sector was wasted on expanding airport terminals and runways which now lie idle. The 20th Century trend towards urbanisation has reversed and food supplies are derived from labour-intensive smallholdings as in medieval times. Unfortunately much productive agricultural land was taken for housing, more being needed than before because oil-based fertilisers are unavailable to give a high yield. Horses previously used for recreation were turned to practical use and are employed in agriculture and for the transport of goods. As in the 1930’s high unemployment led to the return of an allotment society with home-grown food aiding survival.
However, communications developed, so that it is quite normal to see a horse and cart with the carter discussing customer requirements with a mobile telephone.
Scenario 2
By adopting many of the proposals of this manual, Britain managed to reduce its energy requirements to around 25% of the 2000 level at which alternative energy sources and a restored coal industry manage to cope. The biggest contributor to savings was the revolution in communications and home-working and restrictions on travel.
Heavy energy users such as motor manufacturers are few and road transport provides only for the needs of essential services such as health care and food production. In that manufacturing survives to provide essential supplies, it is limited to that employing energy-lean methods, as energy dominates company costs.
Domestic air travel is largely replaced by railways and tramways, being totally electrified and run efficiently from wind- and tidal-power generated electricity. Under-utilised motorways provided suitable routes for additional railway tracks and tramways. Air travel is restricted to essential and intra-governmental business as alternative sources of jet fuel failed to be produced in sufficient quantities.
The motive power needs of agriculture is met from crops supporting the manufacture of bio-diesel and food is distributed as rail freight on re-opened branch lines. Because manufacture of plastics was curtailed by a lack of oil-based chemicals, only partly substituted by coal-derived alternatives, more food is produced locally as processed food cannot be packaged so readily. This has eased the re-cycling and disposal problem originating in the 20th Century and land-fill sites are mostly closed.
Lifestyles have improved with better health from fewer accidents on empty roads, participation in healthy sports and local activities. Drug-taking was finally brought under control not by policing but by the reduction in international traffic which curtailed supply opportunities. Measures taken to make the provision of the health services dependent on the individual’s self care have made smoking and other life-threatening activities a rare phenomenon.
The development of a vast communication infrastructure meant that intellectual and cultural life has been enriched but not in mass attendance events. For example, football supporters view matches staged on pitches equipped as inter-active audio-visual centres with seating reserved for sport officials, press and TV, radio and internet commentators.
Postal services have been replaced by electronic mail and due to the lack of fuel for vans, the mail order business reverted to the old system of a rail-served parcels service. Domestic goods are largely made by local craft industries from sustainable materials.
Unemployment is not the problem it might have foreseen to be, as the lack of energy to drive machinery, means that many functions have reverted to manual labour. For instance, trench-digging and excavation are performed by pick and shovel instead of by mini-excavator, which cannot be fuelled. Some lorry drivers have converted to train and tram drivers.
Scenario 2 is similar in many ways to Scenario 1, but the difference is that the train and tram infrastructure is completed and sustainable alternative energy sources make their appropriate and limited contribution. The public was prepared for the demise of road and air transport by enlightened government. Instead of a bewildering and drastic breakdown of the economic life at the beginning of the century, the changes were anticipated and the transition to a different lifestyle was calm and considered.