Save the Melksham Train
Archived Save the Train forum articles - 2005 to 2010. See below
A Statement Of Where We Are (Round Up Of What's Going On) - 1050/2943
Written by Lee on Friday, 12th January 2007

It has been suggested that this would be helpful.

I have been greatly encouraged by the amount of new members from several areas joining the forum. I would very much appreciate it if as many of you as possible could provide an up - to - date summary of the situation in your area.

Re: A Statement Of Where We Are (Round Up Of What's Going On) - 1050/2946
Written by admin (Graham Ellis) on Friday, 12th January 2007

Swindon - Chippenham - Melksham - Trowbridge - Westbury - onward

* Service cut from 5 round trips a day to 2 round trips in December.
* Remaining services retimed to extend the Swindon commuter's day by 90 minutes
* Around 20% to 30% of remaining trains being cancelled
* All 10 key travel flows that were catered for pre-December are lost
* Remaining trains running nearly empty. Down from 109000 journeys per year (FGW figure) to an estimated 8000 (based on observetions in recent days)
* No daytime trains left. A day trip to London bought on the day now costs over 100 pounds, whereas a day trip using the 09:12 cost under 50 pounds a month ago.

Note that the previous service has grown in use dramatically over the previous 5 years - compound rate between 7% and 35% depending on which statistic you use. Alternatives are bus / train with awkward interchanges, or (for some journeys) rail dogleg via Bath (awkward change), both also operted by First. Both these alternatives are several times slower that the direct train.

* I understand that First timetablers ARE looking a train every 2 or 3 hours from this coming December, but funding is unresolved and inputs to them and the DfT are still useful as there isn't - I don't think - a final decision yet.
* Quote from an email from First this morning: "... there will be a further review of the timetable for December 2007, and your comments will be kept on file so that they can be considered as part of that process. I very much regret that, until that time, we are unable to enter into any further discussion with you ..."

Re: A Statement Of Where We Are (Round Up Of What's Going On) - 1050/2963
Written by Graz on Friday, 12th January 2007

Bristol Temple Meads - Keynsham - Oldfield Park - Bath Spa - Freshford - Avoncliff - Bradford-on-Avon - Trowbridge - Westbury - Weymouth/Southampton

* Keynsham, Oldfield Park, Freshford and Avoncliff no longer have a hourly all day service. A large gap of 2 hours in the middle of the day was created by First Great Western for all of these stations in the face of passenger growth as the Brighton trains no longer call.
* Almost all trains extended from Bristol Temple Meads to Cardiff Central. I personally don't think this is needed, as Westbury/Trowbridge/Bath already has direct Cardiff trains.
* As on most First Great Western lines when the new timetable was implemented, this line was hit by frequent cancellations an severe delays due to unit shortages. In one instance, all trains in 2 hours were cancelled.
* The new timetable did introduce better connection times from this line to northbound Virgin trains and also the Severn Beach line and the trains run beside the occasional South West trains services better. But some connections are now more awkward than ever, such as those from Gloucester.
* Morning peak trains overcrowded to levels deemed unsafe by all except First Great Western. Many people left on platforms, unable to board trains and in some cases subsequently refused/refunded tickets.
*Most direct trains axed between Bristol and Dilton Marsh, Dean and Dunbridge, subsequently severely reducing direct trains to Warminster, Salisbury, Romsey and Southampton Central.
*This line was the first to be given 'Penalty Fare' status by First Great Western and subsequently, automatic ticket machines are being installed at all stations.
* Direct trains from this line to Gloucester/Cheltenham/Worcester which were popular were axed.

The first priorities are for an increase in morning peak trains and carriages, a strong improvement in punctuality and reliability, and a return to an all day service for the stations left with a 2-hour gap. Next, I would like to see better services to Frome and Yeovil.

Re: A Statement Of Where We Are (Round Up Of What's Going On) - 1050/2968
Written by C Shearn on Saturday, 13th January 2007

Please see my other notes.

FGW Reading - Paddington. Standing room only every day in Standard and First (0740 - 0815). About 1 day in 5 you can't get on a train. Delays of more than 15 mins on average every other day.

FGW Paddington - Reading. Standing room only every day in Standard. Seats sometimes in First (1700 - 1830). Delays of more than 15 mins once a week.

Crazy have to buy an upgrade from Standard to First before you get on the train (cost =

Re: A Statement Of Where We Are (Round Up Of What's Going On) - 1050/2974
Written by Lee on Saturday, 13th January 2007

[quote author=C Shearn link=topic=1050.msg2968#msg2968 date=1168676872] No refund if you can't get a seat with Standard Class (obviously!!) despite the danger of standing on a train travelling at 80 - 100 mph. No lessons learned from the Paddington rail crash in 1999 then.......[/quote]

That is a very good point.

Re: A Statement Of Where We Are (Round Up Of What's Going On) - 1050/3072
Written by admin (Graham Ellis) on Monday, 15th January 2007

Weymouth - Yeovil - Bath

I spoke on the phone with a gent from Weymouth this evening, new to the story, and he was telling me how he had heard dreadful reports and could I fill him in.

Re: A Statement Of Where We Are (Round Up Of What's Going On) - 1050/3073
Written by bubblecat on Monday, 15th January 2007

No - I haven't personally spoken to anyone who gets on from before Frome or who travels back apart from one lady left standing with a bike at Bath one night.

She normally changes at Westbury to catch other trains to Castle Cary - I think they have a better link from Westbury than we do at Frome. This could be why there's not so much of a problem for them?

In the mornings there are very few people on the train by the time it hits Frome - it's from this point onwards that the problems start. I am unaware of very much commuter traffic before this point.

Re: A Statement Of Where We Are (Round Up Of What's Going On) - 1050/3111
Written by streety7 on Tuesday, 16th January 2007

Rhoose - Cardiff - Severn Tunnel Jct. - Bristol
* Proposed through service to Rhoose from the South never happened.
* Severn Tunnel Junction did suffer peak train cuts, however these stops have been re-instated.
* Pilning train service reduced to just one train a week in each direction on a Saturday
* Filton Abbey Wood and Bristol Parkway stations becoming more and more congested
* A lot of cancellations on the Cardiff - Fareham route in the last few days
* Many key stops taken out at Keynsham, Oldfield Park & Other places...

Cheltenham - Gloucester - Cam & Dursley - Yate - Bristol - W-s-M - Taunton
* Hourly service at all stations.
* All daytime trains extend to and from Taunton, with 1 a day to/from Exeter.
* 2-hourly extension to Ashchurch, Worcester & Great Malvern.
* Early morning peak hourly service between Worcester, Ashchurch and Cheltenham.
* Relatively easy connections with this service at Worcester with services to/from Oxford (one I use a lot)
* Many calls at Ashchurch are now made by Central Trains' Nottingham - Cardiff route

Cheltenham - Swindon - London
* Hourly clockface timetable between Cheltenham & Swindon.
* Two-hourly extensions to London
* Peak hourly service to London in early morning and from London in evening.
* Increased peak service at Stonehouse, Stroud & Kemble
* Quite a lot of cancellations on this route

link to index of articles

Save the Train was the campaign to bring an approriate train service back to and through Melksham.

Most big contributors are still around writing at the Coffee shop forum where new members are very welcome.

The train has been saved - sort of - we have stepped back up from an unusable service to a poorish one but it's doing very well. We did that through setting up the TransWilts Community Rail Partnership. That fulfilled its early objectives; it has been taken over by local and regional government types who are now doing medium and long term work. The team from this forun can also be found at the Melksham Rail User Group (which was the Melksham Rail Development Group at the time these articles were written and we had no users.

We mustn't loose sight, though, that the train service remains poor and needs our community support in marketing and campaigning to keep it going in a positive direction ... and all the more so when we're expecting to find a different normallity once we get out of the Coronavirus Pandemic and head for zero carbon via the climate crisis. Yes, it's saved ... it's now a key community facility ... the need for enhancement and the strong and near-universal local support remain, and the rail industry and goverment remain slow to move and provide the enhancements even to level us up with other towns. Please support the Melksham Rail User Group - now very much in partnership rather than protest with the rail industry and local government, including GWR, TransWilts and unitary and town councils. And please use the trains and buses, and cycle and walk when you can.

-- Graham Ellis, (webmaster), February 2021

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