Save the Melksham Train
Archived Save the Train forum articles - 2005 to 2010. See below
21.4.06 - 18:00 - Emergency meeting, Trowbridge - 209/508
Written by admin (Graham Ellis) on Wednesday, 12th April 2006

A big meeting is being arranged by transport 2000, "Save our trains" and others at Bridge House, Stallard Street, Trowbridge - right by the station - at 19:30 on the evening of Friday, 21st April.

Although being held in West Wilts, this is NOT just a West Wilts meeting - it's concerned with Portsmouth and Southampton to Salisbury, Westbury, Chippenham and Swindon, also to Bath Bristol and South Wales services.

The choice of Friday evening is to allow MPs to attend and also to let YOU FOLKS who complain that meeting are always during the working day to come along.

Press and TV invited; being organised by a group / folks who are used to setting up effective lobbying.

Re: 21.4.06 - 19:30 - Emergency meeting, Trowbridge - 209/510
Written by Nick Field on Wednesday, 12th April 2006

I'll be there, Graham do you know the approx finish time, as I would like to go via trans wilts train if possible!

Re: 21.4.06 - 19:30 - Emergency meeting, Trowbridge - 209/512
Written by admin (Graham Ellis) on Wednesday, 12th April 2006

No, I don't know the finish time ... but I'll be catching the 18:09 down from Melksham (17:59 from Chippenham, 17:40ish from Swindon) and returning in the 21:24 if the meeting finishes in time. It gets to Melksham at 21:34, Chippenham at 21:44 and Swindon at 21:59.

The meeting venue has been chosen to be close by the threatened service, and so that people can use the services to get there.

Alternative later journeys back:

to MELKSHAM by bus at 23:11

to CHIPPENHAM by train at 21:46, arrining at 23:05 with 45 minutes to wait at Bath (and what an excellent illustration that is of how impractical the alternative is!)

to SWINDON again on the 21:46 train, arriving at Swindon at 23:21

Re: 21.4.06 - 19:30 - Emergency meeting, Trowbridge - 209/513
Written by Nick Field on Thursday, 13th April 2006

I have contacted James Gray, my MP for North Wiltshire informing him that I am attending and asking him to do so as well.  We'll see.

Re: 21.4.06 - 18:00 - Emergency meeting, Trowbridge - 209/516
Written by admin (Graham Ellis) on Wednesday, 19th April 2006

Nick everyone ....

NOTE - I've changed the subject line from "19:30" to "18:00".

Andrew Murrison MP will be in attandance but only from 18:15 to 18:45 so it's worth being there as early as you can!

The official / later start was 19:30, but I think that's been pulled back to 19:00 in a lot of the publicity that's been put out by others involved.  Frankly, I'm not exactly sure of the timing - whether the 19:00 or 19:30 is right.  Actually it's a bit academic - but <b>it's important for you to get along as early as you can after 6!</b>

Re: 21.4.06 - 18:00 - Emergency meeting, Trowbridge - 209/517
Written by Nick Field on Wednesday, 19th April 2006

I'll be catching the 1759 down from Chippenham arriving in Trowbridge at 1823.

Re: 21.4.06 - 18:00 - Emergency meeting, Trowbridge - 209/518
Written by admin (Graham Ellis) on Thursday, 20th April 2006

See you on the train!


Re: 21.4.06 - 18:00 - Emergency meeting, Trowbridge - 209/523
Written by Sion Bretton on Saturday, 22nd April 2006

Shame the MP for Melksham was not there last night, still one can dream.
Still waiting for my reply to my letter. I will write again.

Re: 21.4.06 - 18:00 - Emergency meeting, Trowbridge - 209/527
Written by Lee on Saturday, 22nd April 2006

He may have had other things on his mind.....

Re: 21.4.06 - 18:00 - Emergency meeting, Trowbridge - 209/528
Written by admin (Graham Ellis) on Saturday, 22nd April 2006

Hi, Lee ... welcome here.

The story in your link is Michael Ancram calling for British troops to be withdrawn from Iraq (yes, you DID read that right).  I have to congratulate him on standing up for a view which is not that held by his party.

I do continue to be concerned that Mr Ancram focuses on Foreign and Defence affairs to what I feel at times is the near exclusion of matters that relate directly to most of his own consituency.  I'm delighted that he took some action to help Bedwyn, and I'm dropping him a note to tell him how much we would appreciate him speaking up for the Swindon to Southampton service which provides the ONLY trains that stop in the Western half of his constituency.

Re: 21.4.06 - 18:00 - Emergency meeting, Trowbridge - 209/537
Written by admin (Graham Ellis) on Sunday, 23rd April 2006

Meeting notes .... (I'll post on my Blog too)

Friday 21st April, Trowbridge.

I arrived on the 18:09 from Melksham, walked in after Dr Andrew Murrison (MP for Westbury) had started talking; he was emphasising the through Bristol to Waterloo trains as that, he told us, what the big railway subject in his postbag. He did confirm that he'll be attending the debate on the Greater Western Franchise in parliament on Tuesday, and urged us to let him (if his constituents) know of our concerns by then.  I've written to my own MP, Michael Ancram, to encourage him to attend too.

Main Meeting

South West Public Transport Users' Forum , Chris Irwin in the chair.

Chris introduced Andrew Griffiths, new General Manager for Bristol and Somerset for First, who was seated beside him on the platform. Andrew was formerly with Wessex Trains, looking after the Cornish Branch lines, and did a sterling job in growing use and traffic there.  We welcome him to this part of the network.

In his introduction, Chris told us that any improvements would likely have to
be based on availability of stock, and that in the current climate it would be unlikely for the governement to sanction any extra capital expenditure such as restoring track to the third platform at Chippenham or the fourth at Westbury. And he said that any changes would need to be based on strong evidence.

GORDON EDWARDS has analysed in some detail the draft timetables and replied to the 8th March consultation for SWPTUF.  His reply stated that the draft timetable had so many holes in it, with two trains in opposite directions on the same single line at the same time, many missed connections and so little regard to current customer flows that it really wasn't fit for purpose.

He highlighted Keynsham, where the 4 three-coach trains that run from Bristol in the evening peak are reduced to 2 two-coach trains.  He highlighted Frome, with an 07:04 departure to Bristol followed by a 2 hour gap ...

Gordon was unable to comment on First's planned changes of 3rd April as they're only proposals to be put to the DfT yet and so they're even more wooly in their definition that the draft timetables.

KATE HOARE. Head of Strategic Development. Planning Transport and. Sustainable Development.  Kate highlighted how the new timetables abandoned the needs of the poorer sector of society; there's a much higher proportion of schools traffic and relatively local travel to work, hospital type traffic - as well as leisure and tourism - on the Portsmouth and Southampton to Bristol and Swindon lines, and there needs seem to have come below other user's aspirations.

ANDREW GRIFFITHS. General Manager for the Area, First.  Andrew told us that the 9000 or so responses to the consultation basically filtered down to around 40 areas of concern.  He believes that the 3rd April proposals solve around a half of these, and address to some degree a lot (but not all) of the other issues.

[[Speaking with Andrew personally, it seems that the Swindon to Southamton service and trains to Melksham is one of the issues that has not been dealt with. He offerred a sympathetic ear, and a willingness to provide much more information to me which I have followed up already by email. He also took away a copy of our various reports which I think were new to hime (could be wrong on that) and will read them through.  Most notably, the report that Julian Crow said there was "nothing wrong" with that advocated a two-hourly service]]

The timetable from December will be available, subject to Network Rail and ministerial signoff, on the web from June.  At that point it is said that major changes would not be possible.

First will consult again on services from December 2007, starting in January 2007.

The FLOOR WAS THROWN OPEN to questions (Chris Irwin is excellent at giving everyone a fair word at these events!) and many points were raised and discussed. One of these was the Swindon to Westbury Service, and it was notable that there was considerable support there for the line - I would say a sizable minority of the audience. There were some gasps of surprise when the new service was described from delegates from other parts.  Several speakers spoke (including a professional Transport planner) spoke of moving to Melksham because of the current service, and having now to reconsider.

Andrew offered no hope / suggestions other than to keep writing and for the local authorities to work together on this one, which doesn't happen enough in this part of the country and is one of the reasons we're coming poorly out of this current series of reviews. ((I do hope this isn't a fillibuster to talk us out of time - perhaps I'm being unfair in even wondering))

Re: 21.4.06 - 18:00 - Emergency meeting, Trowbridge - 209/542
Written by Sion Bretton on Monday, 24th April 2006

Hope there is a report in Wiltshire Times of this meeting.

Re: 21.4.06 - 18:00 - Emergency meeting, Trowbridge - 209/546
Written by Nick Field on Monday, 24th April 2006

I have heard on both the local BBC Radio Wilts News and BBC Points West News today about service cuts and seats being lost.

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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