Save the Melksham Train
Archived Save the Train forum articles - 2005 to 2010. See below
A user's story - 336/964
Written by admin (Graham Ellis) on Saturday, 22nd July 2006

The following was written to us at the "Save the train" web site, and is reproduce here with the permission of the writer.

The consultation period for the regional spatial strategy does not end until late August, and the regional economic strategy is not yet published, therefore it is premature and undemocratic to publish a 'final' timetable for this line.  The spacial strategy talks much of greater links with London and Birmingham being vital to the continued success of the region and this line does just that, providing the only existing link between most of Wiltshire's major towns and London via both Salisbury and Swindon and Birmingham via Swindon/Cheltenham.

Bath is now overcrowded - worse than Temple Meads and has no in door disabled access, existing access is via ramps and road.  There are also ticket inspection points at the top of both stair cases at Bath, which are a hazzard to the visually and mobility impaired.  The direct route via Melksham provides covered ramp access to trains to Exeter and Waterloo and the trains themselves are fully accessible.

The line between Portsmouth and Cardiff is extremely over subscribed and getting a seat for the elderly, very young and disabled is almost impossible.  Closing/delimitating this line, in my opinion contravenes government policies on disability discrimination and social inclusion and, as stated above, is, at this time, undemocratic.

Chippenham is planned to grow substantially, as is Swindon, between now and 2026 and reducing the effectiveness of this line will inevitably put more traffic on the road over time and therefore contravene agenda 21 environmental strategies locally, in contravention of the aims of the draft regional spatial strategy and it's supporting studies.

I regularly use the 17:42 service to Salisbury in order to access a connecting service to Axminster, and used to use the return routes when they ran four times a day to Swindon, and reducing/removing this service will greatly adversely effect me.  I am partially sighted and travel with my three children, and Bath Spa provides me with many challenges when making changes between trains, let alone the constant overcrowding on the connecting service to Salisbury.  I would greatly miss this service.  Over time however, I have found it impossible to get through train service information via this line due to computer problems at National Rail Enquiries, due, they tell me, to some cross-operator pricing anomalies, if direct service information had been consistently available, at stations, on the phone and via mobile/standard internet, then more passengers would have used it for sure.  I've had to fight at times to get service information, leading me to the conclusion that this service was for some reason set up to fail!

The service should not be cut, but should instead be returned to it's former level.

Genuine service information should be made available via all media (phone, internet, WAP, station enquiries).

The line should be publicised as an alternative to travel via the now much overcrowded Bath Spa Station, which in turn was meant to relieve Temple Meads (all to0 successfully).

Timetable links should be strengthened with those to Cheltenham to form a corridor service from the south coast to London and the Midlands, also relieving Reading to some degree.

The line should be given a genuine fighting chance of survival, coupled with a (substantive) feasibility study after a couple of years or so.

Adrian Robinson
Swindon Borough Council

Re: A user's story - 336/965
Written by admin (Graham Ellis) on Saturday, 22nd July 2006

I agree with most of Adrian's points;  I have invited FGW's customer relations to comment if they wish and I'll post up any response I get from them.

Re: A user's story - 336/972
Written by Sion Bretton on Sunday, 23rd July 2006

I to look forward to hearing First Comments.

Re: A user's story - 336/1108
Written by admin (Graham Ellis) on Thursday, 3rd August 2006

[quote author=Sion Bretton link=topic=336.msg972#msg972 date=1153670226]
I to look forward to hearing First Comments.

Here you go, Sion and Adrian .... 10 days later ....

[quote]Thank you for contacting me regarding your article on the withdrawal of services. However, Customer Services is unable to comment on this matter.

Should you require an offical response to publish in regards to this matter, I would suggest that you contact our press office[/quote]

Pretty "null" answer for taking 10 days, IMHO.

Re: A user's story - 336/1142
Written by admin (Graham Ellis) on Monday, 7th August 2006

A Further response ....

We are working hard to improve disabled access at stations.  Bath Spa will have lifts to both platforms in 2008, and Westbury will too soon after.  We have just secured 7 'Access for All' grants for improving disabled access, including for Bradford-on-Avon.  We will always do our best to help any mobility impaired passenger, including advising on where best to change trains.

To my untutored view, it looks like we've got a retrograde step as far as disabled travellers from (for example) Swindon to Trowbridge are concerned ... and for travellers with heavy luggage, mothers with puchchairs too .... in December 2006.

Sometime in 2008, part of the retrograde step will be recovered as changing at Bath will be made easier.  But let's not fool ourselves - that net result is three steps backwards and one forward a year later.  Net result - two steps backwards.

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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