Save the Melksham Train
Archived Save the Train forum articles - 2005 to 2010. See below
December consultation response - 2936/6224
Written by admin (Graham Ellis) on Wednesday, 11th July 2007

First Great Western are proposing a number of changes to the Service Level Committment - i.e. the government spec to which they operate - and have asked for consultation responses to their proposals.

Re: December consultation response - 2936/6225
Written by admin (Graham Ellis) on Wednesday, 11th July 2007

Here's my response .... and please feel free to email your views to Mr Evans, and to the County Council and the Depratment for transport too!

[i]Consultation response on changes to First Great Western SLC from December 2007

Dear Mr Evans

I understand that you are co-ordinating consultation responses with regards to proposed changes in the First Great Western SLC from December 2007, as set down in Glenda Lamont's letter of 22nd June.


The current service that First Great Western are providing on the TransWilts line from Swindon to Westbury and Salisbury is failing to fulfill the needs of travellers on that corridor, linking the five largest towns in Wiltshire - Swindon, Salisbury, Chippenham, Trowbridge and Melksham.

Re: December consultation response - 2936/6322
Written by Lee on Monday, 16th July 2007

Here's mine :

Dear Mr Evans ,

I understand that you are co-ordinating consultation responses with regards to proposed changes in the First Great Western SLC from December 2007 , as set down in Glenda Lamont's letter of 22nd June.

I would like to suggest further SLC changes , in order to secure an appropriate level of service for Dilton Marsh , Melksham & Pilning stations , and also to take into account the agreement reached by Bristol City Council and First Great Western to provide a 40 min frequency service on the Severn Beach Line from December 2007. My proposed changes are listed below :


3 Limited Stops

3.1 Pilning

On Mondays to Saturdays , two services in each direction shall call. On Mondays to Fridays , one of these shall arrive at Bristol Temple Meads between 0800 and 0900 , and another shall depart from Bristol Temple Meads between 1700 and 1800.


Re: December consultation response - 2936/6338
Written by Industry Insider on Tuesday, 17th July 2007

I'm sure that the press will have a field day when they pick up on extended journey times of that magnitude - though of course that only states the length of time the slowest train should take, it'll be quite easy for the hacks to word it so that it looks like all trains are taking much longer! The Cotswold Line one in an interesting example, as HST's aren't really particularly well suited to the route in terms of acceleration and making use of their top speed (apart from a 100mph stretch from Wolvercote to Ascott and 95mph on a section between Evesham and Norton Junc., a Turbo can bowl along there at the same speed!). However, their seating capacity will be much needed on some of the busier trains.

To gain any real improvement in timekeeping, there desperately needs to be major enhancement works on the Cotswold Line. After years of silence, Network Rail are finally looking into the possibility of upgrading signalling, installing passing loops, increasing linespeeds and re-doubling sections of the track. [url][/url] A Shrub Hill to Oxford time of 1 hour would be achievable by my reckoning with just some of these measures in place.

Another point is the large number of Adelantes/Turbos which currently terminate at Great Malvern and turn-back at Malvern Wells. Anything longer than a Adelante would not fit between the turn-back shunting signal and the section signal for Malvern Wells and the line on to Ledbury. So, unless there is some form of change to the infrastructure/operating procedures a HST would have to wait until the long section to Ledbury has been cleared by the previous train - which might give more delay headaches on occasions. I'm sure the powers that be are aware of this though!  :-\

I wish you well with your aspirations on levels of service in the Melksham and Severn Beach areas.

Re: December consultation response - 2936/6340
Written by Steve Bray on Tuesday, 17th July 2007

In response to Mr Industry Insider, I grew up in Malvern, living on the side of the Malvern Hills with a view of the railway line between Malvern Wells signal box and the Colwall tunnel.

When the mid-morning "Cotswold & Malverns Express " from Paddington terminated at Malvern, it "turned around", on that stretch of track - the single line - between the signal box and the tunnel, so it didn't go to Ledbury. That would have been in the late 80's and through the 90's I guess.

Tomorrow I'll write with fastest timings on the Cotswold Line acheived by HST's in the 1980's compared to today's trains. I'm sure some of you will remember the 43 minutes allowed for HST's non-stop from Paddington to Oxford!!

Re: December consultation response - 2936/6341
Written by Industry Insider on Tuesday, 17th July 2007

Yes, Steve - I too remember that train. But that was just once a day and when demands for paths were less. I wasn't saying that the trains will have to go to Ledbury, just that in order to pass the section signal at Malvern Wells the section to Ledbury had to be 'clear', unless there is some kind of special 'local instruction'? I'd be intested to know?

I have been on an Oxford-Paddington Adelante train in the recent past that did the trip in just over 47 minutes (after leaving Oxford late) and that included stops at Reading and Slough! The trains are still well capable, it's just that too many other trains often get in the way nowadays!

Re: December consultation response - 2936/6379
Written by Steve Bray on Thursday, 19th July 2007

Just for interest, in the current timetable, the fastest journey from Oxford to Worcester Shrub Hill is 1 hr 10 minutes and in the opposite direction, 1 hour 8 minutes.

Even in 1978, the fastest journey from Worcester Shrub Hill to Oxford was 1 hour 9 minutes!

In 1998, the fastest Oxford Worcester SH took 1 hour 2 minutes, and the fastest Worcester SH to Oxford journey was JUST 57 minutes.

In fairness the fastest trains did not call at Pershore, Honeybourne or Hanborough in 1978 and 1998.

And in 2008, the trains can be allowed to take even longer on the route!

Re: December consultation response - 2936/6676
Written by Lee on Saturday, 4th August 2007

Here is the Severn Tunnel Action Group response , which includes the Pilning commuter service option (link below.)

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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