Save the Melksham Train
Archived Save the Train forum articles - 2005 to 2010. See below
First HLOS / SOFA / Rail Strategy Hints Emerge - 2895/6172
Written by Lee on Monday, 9th July 2007

A 30-year plan to transform rail travel with longer trains that can run closer together using biofuels and even hydrogen power will be set out by the government this month (link below.)

Ministers are to give more details of a new fleet of inter-city trains , raising the prospect of Britain getting trains similar to the high-speed Velaro recently unveiled in Spain. They will also announce for the first time a 'new generation' train to replace much of Britain's remaining diesel and electric stock. Research will also be unveiled into trams that can run on commuter rail routes and on roads through city centres.

To increase capacity on crowded routes , the white paper is likely to say the latest hi-tech European signalling system will be fitted within a decade so that trains can run closer together. Thousands more carriages are to be ordered so that trains can be made longer.

The improvements will come at a price: officials warn that seats could have to be removed from busy trains so they can carry more standing passengers, and fares could rise further on popular routes to encourage travel outside the rush hour. The white paper is also expected to suggest that savings could be made by further cutting back maintenance on the least used rural lines.

There is also likely to be concern about whether the government will put in enough subsidy to pay for the promises and anger if fares continue to rise , particularly before the improvements are introduced.[/b]

I refer you to the quotes below.

[quote author=Steve35 link=topic=872.msg2572#msg2572 date=1166722953]
[quote author=Lee link=topic=872.msg2565#msg2565 date=1166695691]
Very well said , Steve. I have yet to read a post that more perfectly sums up the extensive research that I & others have conducted into this. The only things that I would really disagree with are :

1) That certain "political elements" have been far more helpful than you suggest.

2) That FGW , whilst working within limitations , could be far more helpful in resolving many issues.

Welcome to the forum.

Fair enough. I'm fortunate to live nowhere near the FGW area so I don't have first hand experience of their services. I suppose the point of my post was to make sure that you understand the background to the current situation. Most people's reaction will be to just blame FGW - which no doubt suits the DfT just fine.

The current timetable cuts could be interpreted as a classic 'closure strategy': They want to close some lines to save money but they can't because the services are too popular. Therefore they have to make the services unpopular. This is done through a combination of 1) reducing the frequency of trains, 2) running the remaining trains at unsuitable times and 3) making the remaining trains shorter so that more people have to stand. This hopefully has the effect of driving away most of the passengers. The DfT can then come along and say that because no-one uses the service it's going to be closed.

I think 2007 is going to be the crunch year. There are two acronyms to watch out for: HLOS and SOFA.

The funding requirement for the railway is determined every 5 years. Each 'block' of 5 years is known as a Control Period (CP). We're currently in CP3. Control Period 4 covers the years 2009-2014 and the process of determining the funding for CP4 has recently begun. This is where the HLOS and SOFA come in. The HLOS is the High Level Output Specification, which defines the kind of railway the Government wants to buy (eg service levels, train capacity etc), and the SOFO is the Statement of Funds Available, saying how much it is prepared to pay. It is then up to the ORR to try to match up the two i.e. is there enough money in the SOFA to pay for the railway specified in the HLOS? If there isn't (and this is the likely scenario) there then has to be an iterative process involving the ORR, DfT and Network Rail involving a trade off of service levels and costs until a compatible HLOS and SOFA emerge. So in a worst case scenario services could be cut and lines closed as a way of bringing the railway's costs down to the amount specified in the SOFA.

The HLOS and SOFA are expected in Summer 2007.

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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