Save the Melksham Train
Archived Save the Train forum articles - 2005 to 2010. See below
Oxford to Salisbury or Southampton via Melksham - 12/12
Written by Nick Field on Wednesday, 21st September 2005

I think this service could be viable fot the future, why?:

Building work is well under way on the new records office in Chippenham.

Re: Oxford to Salisbury or Southampton via Melksham - 12/17
Written by admin (Graham Ellis) on Friday, 23rd September 2005

Of the various options I've discussed / suggested / been told about / looked at over the past few weeks - and there are lots of them - Oxford to Salisbury seems one of the best.

Re: Oxford to Salisbury or Southampton via Melksham - 12/32
Written by rogerw on Tuesday, 27th September 2005

As I understand it, one of the main reasons for reducing this service is the congestion on the main line between Swindon and Chippenham. All the passenger and freight traffic from Paddington and Reading to Gloucester, South Wales, Bath, Bristol etc. uses the first part of this stretch of line, until the Chippenham line diverges. For this reason alone I think any Melksham service in the medium future is likely to have to terminate at Chippenham to get any reasonable frequency.

The Salisbury or Southampton to Oxford option would entail running to Didcot on this congested line, preferably with a train capable of the full line speed of 125 mph, which would then be wasted over much of the rest of the route.

Extending the route to Oxford is an excellent idea, as is the Euston to Weymouth proposal, for getting the attention of the wider public and press, and "getting on the radar" of the DfT. There may even be a chance of running some Weymouth specials for the Olympics if planned far enough ahead. But for a useful and regular service I think we should not expect any more than a Chippenham to Westbury shuttle, possibly extending to Swindon, Salisbury or Frome on some trips.

High aspirations are good, as long as expectations are achievable!!

Roger Watkins

Re: Oxford to Salisbury or Southampton via Melksham - 12/35
Written by admin (Graham Ellis) on Wednesday, 28th September 2005

There seems to be, alas, a railway industry structure in place that isn't easy to follow, and local area responsibilities that preclude the realistic planning and mentoring by anyone of medium to longer distance cross country routes.  In order to get Oxford to Salisbury to work, you have to get "Oxford", "Swindon", "Wiltshire" and the Dft all to work together. Oh - and Network Rail and the train operating companies too  ;). 

There is a huge "logic" in Salisbury to Oxford.    But then there's a huge logic in other alternatives too;  Salisbury to Chippenham at a higher frequency which avoids line capacity problems around Swindon, for example; with a regular and reliable connection at Chippenham, I think (and have non-quantitative evidence) that people would be happy with a 15 minute interchange into a more local train reversing on the down line well clear of the half hourly express.  And having said all this, there's also the huge government battle that the railways seem to be getting busier and busier (our line is no exception!!) and yet costing the taxpayer more and more.

There will be much more to follow here; I seem to have got a little off topic!

Re: Oxford to Salisbury or Southampton via Melksham - 12/37
Written by The Whitley Wonder on Wednesday, 28th September 2005

Well from the FGW planner (a freind of mine who works there) says that they are going to have the BTM - Oxfords back, using transpennines Class 158s which can keep up to a HST timetable so I cant see any problem there myself.

Re: Oxford to Salisbury or Southampton via Melksham - 12/38
Written by admin (Graham Ellis) on Thursday, 29th September 2005

There *might* not be any problem, but their might be an excuse  ;) ... or it might be subjective; each additional train on a busy section is another potential delay *if* it's running late, etc ...

More to follow on this and lots of other topics ... network problems here this morning!

Re: Oxford to Salisbury or Southampton via Melksham - 12/40
Written by Nick Field on Friday, 30th September 2005

Hello again

Well it looks like I have started quite a popular topic.  Reading the replies so far it looks like the as far as track capacity goes the pinch point of running a service like this would be the Swindon - Didcot bit as express trains from Swanses, Bristol TM and Cheltenham all converge onto that stretch of track.  I cant see the logic of trains using the Melksham line terminating at Chippenham however.  If someone could calculate the time the local train travels from thingly junction, allows some turnaround time at Chip (say 15 mins) then reverses back down the line to thingly junction then it would probabaly be as long as carrying on up to Swindon where it can clear out of the way of the expresses due to the extra platfrom capacity there.  Plus you would have the benifit of drawing custom form the large population of Swindon and avoid the fustration of West Wilts customers having to change at Chip?  seems more logical to me any way.


Re: Oxford to Salisbury or Southampton via Melksham - 12/47
Written by admin (Graham Ellis) on Saturday, 1st October 2005

I've just posted a follow up in another thread on Chippenham.

Basically, it takes quarter of an hour for the train to run up from Chippehham to Swindon, and a quarter hour for it to get back. I'm just suggesting that it's one option to save that half hour on every round trip.  But, yes, I do prefer Swindon "all things being equal"; just not sure at the moment if all things ARE equal  :-\

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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