Save the Melksham Train
Archived Save the Train forum articles - 2005 to 2010. See below
Good to meet you yesterday - 157/375
Written by admin (Graham Ellis) on Friday, 17th February 2006

It was good to meet some more of you "in the flesh" early yesterday morning - it was very much worth breaking my routine to be around when normally I'm not.

For the record, the 05:52 and 06:56 both left Melksham with 6 people on board and the 07:45 left with 26. Regulars tell me this was a quiet day, and indeed my past experience is that Monday and Friday tend to be busier.  But I CAN tell you that the early services were much busier than when I first used them - traffic IS growing.

Almost everyone I spoke to felt that the new services were a step in the wrong direction.  There were a couple of exceptions - people who felt that the later running of the evening train from Trowbridge would be a help to them personally - but they were more than outbalanced by people who felt that the earlier commuter train timing in the morning, with a need to leave much earlier and connect from Frome, and the later run in the evening, would encourage them back onto the road. 

With the train now operated out of Gloucester, it was wondered if we could ask the DfT and First to add a one coach (153) unit onto the first train up in the morning to Swindon, and use it to provide a service every two hours between the 6:20 a.m. and 6:12 p.m. on the Westbury run.

I was speaking with an off duty rail employee over the last couple of days, and asking him if the withdrawn services were really because of the perceived financial cost,  or because of a lack of suitable rolling stock.  "Bit of both" he replied, citing the fact that First want the extra coach to add to one of the Portsmouth to Cardiff (now extended to Rhoose) services to help increase all of them from 2 to 3 or 4 coaches.

There are going to be 9 train sets on that route, so that's about 25 coaches - in other words, the coach that would provide a tripling of the capacity on the Swindon to Westbury line is to be used to provide a 4% increase on the Roose to Portsmouth.

In all honsety, I can't see a 4% capacity increase with no extra services resulting in any more ticket sales on Rhoose - Portsmouth, but I CAN see a 300% increase in services over the initial proposal being a huge difference on Swindon - Westbury.  Difference in cost to First?  The cost of a train crew for the "153" ...

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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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