Save the Melksham Train
Archived Save the Train forum articles - 2005 to 2010. See below
What's your message to Alison Forster? - 1599/4249
Written by tonya on Sunday, 11th March 2007

More Train Less Strain are meeting Alison Forster and Tom Stables this Tuesday in Bristol.
We'd like to make it very clear to her indeed that there is still lots needs fixing in the FGW area, and that in the opinion of most daily users it is still a failing company. If you have questions that you would like us to ask her, please post your questions here or on MTLS site
We would like to be able to show that it 's more than a small group of fare strikers who are complaining about her service!

Re: What's your message to Alison Forster? - 1599/4252
Written by Steve Bray on Sunday, 11th March 2007

Just a few thoughts...

I'm not as familiar with the services in the Bristol/Bath area, so I cannot comment. However there are many organisations all over the FGW area that have grievances; - Oxford commuters have the OxRail Action Group, and are fed up with the morning services; The Cotswold Line Promotion Group have a particular grievance over the 0534 from Great Malvern to Paddington now being operated by a Turbo when it started off in December being operated by an Adelante (In spite of the DfT's instruction that with slight exception, all services on the Cotswold Line be formed of 125mph stock); it just goes on, and these organisatons will now doubt have their say with Alison in due course.

A particular grievance aired by the CLPG in their last newsletter, was that FGW was ignoring consultation, so maybe you could ask the question "Will FGW listen more to all the pressure groups that have sprung up, who are, after all, attempting to work WITH FGW to improve their service?".

As FGW have completely lost the respect of the vast majority of the travelling public in the West of England, what action are they going to do earn the respect of their customers?

Does FGW have any respect for its customers, as the service that was provided from December would appear that they have no interest in them, and a lot of contempt for them?

Why have they trimmed their capacity so much so that the 0710 from Bristol Temple Meads to Paddington appears to get cancelled more often than it runs? (If it is a "spare" set as has been written elsewhere, why is it in the timetable anyway?)

Why were they so totally ill-prepared for the December timetable when they had been operating many services in the area for a long time before?

In hindsight, what would FGW have done to improve the December timetable? How aware was AF of the cutbacks being implemented in the December timetable; did she have much say in the new timetables?

When are they going to do the honourable thing, hold their hands up, admit they've failed, and hand back their franchise, (before it is withdrawn from them?)

It seems that the only hope that FGW is clinging on to for the future is the introduction of the new HST interiors, although they have received a mixed reaction from the rail media, who criticise the new lay-outs for not being "family friendly" as there are very few tables.

Anyway, good luck with your meeting

Re: What's your message to Alison Forster? - 1599/4256
Written by admin (Graham Ellis) on Sunday, 11th March 2007

Here's a message that I posted up in response to Tony's request:

[i]Hi, Tony ...

Prior to December 2006, a service of 5 trains per day each way was provided linking Swindon to Chippenham, Melksham, Trowbridge and Salisbury (they are the five largest towns in Wiltshire) and also serving Westbury, Warminster and Frome.

Now there are just 2 trains a day each way, arriving at Swindon before 8 a.m. and after 8 p.m., and returning at twenty past 6 in the morning and at quarter to seven at night.

Re: What's your message to Alison Forster? - 1599/4260
Written by Gwr2006 on Sunday, 11th March 2007

There are a number of points made by Mr Bray that require clarification.

Oxford services are generally the same as they have been for the past two years, except that some timings have changed (people don't seem to like any change, but things cannot remain the same forever!). From my own observations, there is plenty of capacity available if people are prepared to use all the trains provided in the timetable. A 5-coach Adelante has a similar seating capacity to a 3-car Turbo and several of the latter leave Oxford almost empty whilst people try and cram into the Adelantes! People need to accept that for a 10 minute extra jouney time they can have a seat for the duration of their journey.

Re: What's your message to Alison Forster? - 1599/4261
Written by admin (Graham Ellis) on Sunday, 11th March 2007

[quote author=Gwr2006 link=topic=1599.msg4260#msg4260 date=1173637275]
The franchise is focused on increasing travel demand and getting more bums on seats so better dialogue between users and FGW management is always a good thing!

Thanks for that very detailed follow up.

Re: What's your message to Alison Forster? - 1599/4275
Written by tramway on Monday, 12th March 2007

Getting the stock in the right order would be a good start.

0703 off Trowbridge this morning ran with 1 x 158 and 1 x 143 on the rear, this would normally divide at BTM with the rear portion making the Cardiff train and the rest going on to WSM, not this morning. Initial announcement WAS for the 143 to make up the Cardiff train, but then they changed their minds,  ::)  and amid much guessing as to whether we would be going to WSM this morning everyone trooped off to the 158 and waited while the WSM portion trundled out of the way so we could leave, 15 min late.  >:( >:(

Re: What's your message to Alison Forster? - 1599/4285
Written by Steve Bray on Monday, 12th March 2007

Just  a quick response to the comments from GWR to whom I also thank for his explanations.

I don't wish to deviate this thread from the topic. Obviously GWR is more "in the know" than I, as a humble rail enthusiast (and supporter). Yes, the Adelantes have provided a more comfortable service than the turbos, but has performance on the Cotswold Line improved since December 2004? This timetable too, lead to an extremly poor performance at times by cramming too many services on the line, which is notorious for its large percentage of single track.  My own opinion, is that there is perhaps one or two trains too many in each direction running on the line.

My comments on the 0534 from Great Malvern which runs at 0705 from Oxford were taken from both CLPG's comments on the matter, and the OxRail Action Group (they have just published a performance report on the new services). Its really the same difference that an Adelante has been laid on for the 0733 ex Oxford, because its been taken away from the longer Great Malvern service which leaves Oxford at 0705.So some commuters have benefited, and others have not.

As for the DfT specifications, it would seem that these have been misinterpreted by lots of interested parties (and I certainly haven't read the franchise specification in detail). This suggestion may show my ignorance of the whole situation, but if the specification for rolling stock and timetables etc were so drastic, why didn't FGW have the guts to say so before bidding or agreeing to operate it?

Re: What's your message to Alison Forster? - 1599/4296
Written by tramway on Tuesday, 13th March 2007

Another one is getting the departure screens to have the correct/some information.

Last nights 1841 Filton - WSM didn't appear either on the screen or at the station, enquiring at BTM help desk I was informed that it had been started from BTM, fat lot of good to the people at Filton who hadn't a clue what was going on.

It can also be quite amusing seeing that the cancelled 08something still showing on the board at 1800 that evening.

Re: What's your message to Alison Forster? - 1599/4300
Written by courgettelawn on Tuesday, 13th March 2007

Why can't VDUs show honest information like this?

Re: What's your message to Alison Forster? - 1599/4301
Written by Nick Field on Tuesday, 13th March 2007

[quote author=courgettelawn link=topic=1599.msg4300#msg4300 date=1173813590]
Why can't VDUs show honest information like this?

;D ;D ;D

Is that Salisbury station by any chance?  Reminds me of when I was passing a desiro in the sidings at Basingstoke which had 'B*L****S' in its destination panel.  Presumably a disgruntled member of satff was having a laugh.

Re: What's your message to Alison Forster? - 1599/4312
Written by courgettelawn on Wednesday, 14th March 2007

Yes, Salisbury station but erm... some artistic licence used.

We have also seen a Virgin Voyager at Southampton Central station with destination "Cape of No Hope via Sahara Desert. Welcome on Board." This one is genuine.

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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