Save the Melksham Train
Archived Save the Train forum articles - 2005 to 2010. See below
A train service of two halves. Sorry, one... - 2784/6001
Written by streety7 on Saturday, 30th June 2007

You know all of those cancellations we have for 'train faults' or 'crew shortages' etc?
Well today, between Cheltenham and Swindon, so far it hasn't happened, even though there ARE faults on the trains!

I was sat at Gloucester waiting for the 1305 to Cheltenham today (Saturday), while the information system couldn't make it's mind up whether the service was delayed by 8 minutes, 17 minutes or 26 minutes. The train did turn up eventually, at 1317, and long and behold it was a nodding donkey (143) - I think they might be using these on the Cheltenham - Swindon route now.

While I was sat there waiting for this nodding donkey to turn up (143 618) I overheard a conversion between the drivers who were changing shifts at Gloucester... (as close as I can remember):

FGW Staff - "Which train are you running?"
Driver 1 - "I'm only going to Cheltenham and back, the 1305 service from here"
FGW Staff - "Ohh blimey I've heard about that one. It's running on one engine, and it is SLOW."
Driver 1 - "Really?"
FGW Staff - "Yeah, that's why it's being delayed by so much. We had two engines at Swindon but gradually lost the other one along the way, engine coolant or water I think, I think you could fill it up at Cheltenham can't you?"
Driver 1 - "I don't know if I'm qualified, but I don't know if I'm bothered anyway, as I said I'm only going to Cheltenham and back."

So there you go. The story of one half, with enthusiastic and caring FGW staff who want to keep their rolling stock running as long as possible... the opposite more like. It seemed funny sitting in a carriage of a nodding donkey which was completely quiet, as there are normally the most noisiest things on the tracks! It seemed like the longest journey though, the train must not have even hit 45mph I reckon, it took nearly 15 minutes between Gloucester and Cheltenham and had the noisiest brakes I have ever heard, even the yobs sat at Gloucester on platform 4 didn't like that idea. What a shift to do though, between Gloucester and Cheltenham and back.

While going the other way earlier in the morning, a re-livered nodding donkey trundled past, with new yellow paint on the front and back and all I could see of the new blue panels were a pink 'F' logo and not much else, unless I missed something. Could they not be bothered with the dynamic lines?

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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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