Save the Melksham Train
Archived Save the Train forum articles - 2005 to 2010. See below
Reversal at Chippenham? - 110/239
Written by admin (Graham Ellis) on Sunday, 8th January 2006

I was at Chippenham station today.  The main line to Swindon was closed, and First were running an hourly train from Bristol to Chippenham, reversing it there, and running it back to Bath; It was arriving and leaving again from what is normally the London-bound platform.

Why is this of note?

Because one of the suggestions for the future service could be to reverse the TransWilts train at Chippenham, rather than doubling up the service with both "our" train and the Bristol to London train on the main line ... thus freeing "our" train to make extra trips (and extra revenue for First).  With the half-hourly service from Chippenham to Swindon, would you prefer:

a) An Hourly train between Westbury and Chippenham, change at Chippenham for Swindon


b) A through train every two hours between Westbury and Swindon.

Re: Reversal at Chippenham? - 110/242
Written by Graz on Sunday, 8th January 2006

I'm not really sure whether this would be viable. I assume Chippenham has only two platforms. Trains from Melksham terminating at Chippenham may therefore get in the way of delayed half hourly Paddington services which I think is why they stopped Wessex trains terminating at Bath Spa.

Swindon has more platforms which makes it more ideal as a terminus for these trains.

Re: Reversal at Chippenham? - 110/244
Written by Nick Field on Monday, 9th January 2006

Graham do you mean an hourly train at Melksham in each direction or a train every hour 1st hour going up 2nd hour going down?  As it takes about 30 minutes from Chippenham to Westbury to have an hourly service each way would leave hardly anytime for turnaound at each end, unless I have missed something?  I assume a a service every two hours at Melksham each way between Swindon - Westbury would allow about a 15 minute turnaround at each end?
Anyway enough of my queries, personally I think a two hourly service (preferably clockface) would be sufficient at the moment.  Swindon has better platform capacity than Chippenham, so our train once there would not interfere with the express trains, plus if there was a technical fault with our train it could be moved out of the way of the main line trains more easily.  I find that people want to have to change a little as possible.  As many northbound passengers would be travelling to Swindon (especially on the commuter trains) it is better that the train terminates here.  Plus you may draw in some Swindon residents travelling southbound.

Re: Reversal at Chippenham? - 110/248
Written by admin (Graham Ellis) on Tuesday, 10th January 2006

I think the two-hourly service, Swindon to Westbury, is the best choice operationally.

Re: Reversal at Chippenham? - 110/252
Written by Nick Field on Wednesday, 11th January 2006

Graham I had the same thought, why should the local train be sacrficed south of Chippenham if Engineering is only taking place on the main line?
Seing that it the local train only takes 10 minutes from Chippenham to Melksham they must be allowing for quite a bit of dwell time at Chippenham Station for the mainline trains if they need the Thingly to Chippenham station section of the track for a whole 40 minutes?
Also I am thinking why cant they run a train to/from Westbury and Melksham and run the buses from Melksham to Chippenham to link up with the trains there again?  (I suppose operationally its easier just to run the bus along the whole route)

Re: Reversal at Chippenham? - 110/254
Written by admin (Graham Ellis) on Wednesday, 11th January 2006

The mainline train has a 25 minute dwell according to the public timetable.  BUT ... I think there's 6 minutes of recovery time so that it really arrives 6 minutes before the public timetable.  Than makes 31 minues.  Allow 3 minutes each way to and from Thingley which makes 37 minutes, which is the "nearly 40 minutes" they've claimed.

Re: Reversal at Chippenham? - 110/263
Written by admin (Graham Ellis) on Sunday, 15th January 2006

I think I was fed a "porkie" about First taking up all possible reversal slots at Chippenham.

It seems that BOTH platforms are able to reverse trains, although they've got to be on the correct line in from Thingley.  I was up at Chippenham again yesterday evening; the First train while I was there reversed at the London bound platform, but this morning's 01:15 that came from London VIA MELKSHAM! and was scheduled to reverse at the Bath / Bristol bound platform.

I suspect it's cheaper for Wessex trains to run a bus all the way from Westbury to Swindon than for them to run a train to Chippneham and a bus beyond ... 

Re: Reversal at Chippenham? - 110/274
Written by Sion Bretton on Tuesday, 17th January 2006

Somestimes  when the trains from Westbury to Swindon are running very later, the have arrived at Chippenham , then go back to Junction at Thingley and the come back when due to leave Chippenham.
I have seen the 17.12 ( weekdays) arrive at Chippenham at 17.40, wait until 17.59 and leave (without waiting for customers coming down from Swindon).

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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