Save the Melksham Train
Archived Save the Train forum articles - 2005 to 2010. See below
Weymouth: Sunday Services: Ouch! - 2338/5358
Written by Mark A on Tuesday, 22nd May 2007

Two letters from the Bath Chronicle in April:


That one got the attention of one Lance Cole, External Communications Manager First Great Western ... the errant service then found its way into the online timetables and he was able to reply:

Re: Weymouth: Sunday Services: Ouch! - 2338/5370
Written by James on Wednesday, 23rd May 2007

All due respect, but some of that article is a load of tosh!

1)There is now a morning (Sunday) Bath - Weymouth, leaves BTM at 0915!
2)It was on Sunday, along with at least 1 other service
3)Has the person ever been on a St IVes train in the summer!

Re: Weymouth: Sunday Services: Ouch! - 2338/5373
Written by Mark A on Wednesday, 23rd May 2007

I know - I wrote it - it's a letter to the paper. The first sentence is the most accurate.

At the time, while the online timetable database had been updated for the summer timetable changes, this didn't include the Sunday 9.15 from Bristol to Weymouth - which made a later appearance.

Only FGW will know whether they actually intended to drop this service from the timetable, and changed their minds when various  people started making a fuss (not least the Weymouth and Portland Chamber of Commerce, who discussed this very train at a meeting with the TOC where they expressed thier concern at the general provision on the Heart of Wessex line).

My point about St Ives is that with all services busy with summer traffic and a shortage of trains, FGW has to choose where best to deploy insufficient resources. I'm well aware that the St Ives trains load very healthily indeed, even if the current franchise specification didn't seem to be aware of this.

If the Chronicle will print a reply to Lance Cole's response, I can use this as an opportunity to publicise the reinstated Sunday morning service.

Best wishes


Re: Weymouth: Sunday Services: Ouch! - 2338/5376
Written by admin (Graham Ellis) on Wednesday, 23rd May 2007

Mark, many thanks for your earlier letter to fht Chrinicle (and follow ups here!).  I ceratainly noticed the - err - poor Sunday provision and I wouldn't be surprised if there was a certain "suck it and see" in FGW providing minimal services in the first draft, knowing that if they got a kick they could always re-instate and get the glory for doing so. 

I've gotten to be a little cynical, I'm afraid ... there seems to be a lack of interest in certain parts of the network. Perhaps the clue is in the comment that "The branch lines only bring in 4% of our revenue" for one of the FGW prople who was, I suspect, accurate in this quote.  The statistic was followed by "so we can't do very much ...."

Re: Weymouth: Sunday Services: Ouch! - 2338/5377
Written by Mark A on Wednesday, 23rd May 2007

Update: having checked the (paper) timetable boards at Bath Spa this evening, the Sunday 09.15 Bristol to Weymouth service isn't listed. That's quite an omission, as Sunday morning services aren't what they were as it is, and now FGW aren't listing one of the few trains that run before 10 am.

It's possible that the 'Observations' concerning the non-appearance of this service in the online timetable prompted FGW to put something in place pronto. The evidence is all there. No doubt Lance Cole is in a position to know: his counterpoint is rather weakened I feel.

I'll pen a reply with the aim of giving the service publicity, and also request that FGW amend the display boards. (In the past, when Wessex discontinued the loco hauled trains, they pulled the same stunt with the display board timetables I seem to recall, something that the regional RUCC took up on my behalf. That approach is no longer possible as we no longer have a regional RUCC  ...)

Today, FGW had a one page advertisement feature alongside the cheap tickets offer they're running in the Bath Chronicle - with details of the support the company is giving to local community projects in Bath itself, they'll presumably be aware that they need to work on their image within the city.

Would that they would adopt the same approach with Melksham - albeit that they'd need to provide a train service in the first place!

Best wishes


Re: Weymouth: Sunday Services: Ouch! - 2338/5438
Written by Mark A on Tuesday, 29th May 2007

The Chronicle have published my reply, with due mention of Melksham for good measure.

So, yes, there is a Sunday service, but no, FGW aren't being very good at telling people about it. Still, at least it was their external communications manager who took me up on it! I suspect his brief won't extend to timetable boards though.

Anyone care use the paper's web site to comment?

Oh, and it rained on Sunday anyway ...

Re: Weymouth: Sunday Services: Ouch! - 2338/5444
Written by admin (Graham Ellis) on Tuesday, 29th May 2007

Mark, I tried ... but it's not offering me the option of adding a comment  :'(

Much appreciate the plug for other services including West Wilts to Swindon.  Actions / reactions to the Sunday Weymouth service show that the pressure can work, even if First then claim all the credit and rubbsih the very people who achieved it. There are times that morals and business seem poles apart!

Re: Weymouth: Sunday Services: Ouch! - 2338/5457
Written by Mark A on Wednesday, 30th May 2007

Apparently, the service is not listed in the *last* national rail timetable book either (which isn't really surprising, given the number of other places it isn't listed)

In future times, historians will be led astray as to when this train was discontinued!


Re: Weymouth: Sunday Services: Ouch! - 2338/5467
Written by Mark A on Thursday, 31st May 2007

Timetable boards at Bath Spa now amended to list the 9.33 to Weymouth ...

It would be interesting to know the position at other stations. Oldfield Park for instance. Or Trowbridge. Or even Bristol Temple Meads ...


Re: Weymouth: Sunday Services: Ouch! - 2338/5519
Written by Lee on Monday, 4th June 2007

The Heart Of Wessex Rail Partnership have criticised FGW on this and other matters (link below.)

Quote :

"The line needs more investment and more attention. We hope no more services are lost in the winter timetable."

Re: Weymouth: Sunday Services: Ouch! - 2338/5636
Written by Mark A on Monday, 11th June 2007

Timetable boards at Oldfield Park carry only an all-stations timetable for the Cardiff to Portsmouth line. This does technically list the Sunday morning service to Weymouth but only as a note of its destination at the foot of the timetable itself.

More seriously, this approach doesn't push the other direct services available from the station, which isn't blessed with fixed interval departures. It's difficult for the passenger to build an overall picture of the service pattern.

A passenger has to read some pretty small print to find out that through trains from there serve destinations apart from the Portsmouth to Cardiff line - and there's no information about the other stops on the Weymouth line at all.

Oh, and while I was at the station, what appeared to be the 18.02 to Weymouth ran straight through at speed without stopping. The passenger information service didn't announce the train, so I'm wondering if it should stop there or not even if the timetable listed it as so. The next service is due 21.05, so it's just as well that no passengers were waiting for it.

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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