Save the Melksham Train
Archived Save the Train forum articles - 2005 to 2010. See below
The Official Position - Let The People Of Bristol Take Buses! - 3509/6983
Written by Lee on Tuesday, 21st August 2007

From my inbox (my thanks to an FOSBR member) :

Thank you for your letter of 15th July. Though I am still fairly new to this post and still getting briefed I share many of your concerns and I am determined to do what I can to improve transport in Bristol through my position as the member of the Council's Cabinet responsible for transport.

As you have observed, proposals to construct a rapid transit (tram) network serving Bristol were not successful. The main reason for this was that the cost of funding trams escalated and they have become simply unaffordable for government, the main source of funding. In addition to the Bristol scheme, government funding was similarly not made available for schemes also at an advanced stage of preparation in Leeds, Liverpool and South Hampshire (Portsmouth/Gosport). The only tram schemes that currently appear to be progressing are extensions to existing schemes (Manchester, Birmingham and Nottingham) or where different national government funding regimes are in place (Edinburgh).

Department for Transport advice has been for local authorities seeking to promote fast mass public transport systems to concentrate instead on bus rapid transit which are seen as being able to provide most of the benefits of a rail-based tram as well as greater flexibility at a fraction of the cost. Bus rapid transit uses current bus technology, but with greater use of design of the vehicle and operating environment to provide fast and attractive services, segregated as far as possible from traffic congestion. An example of the type of vehicle being considered is to be found currently operating in York.

Taking heed of the government advice, the development of a bus rapid transit network for the greater Bristol area was recommended in the Greater Bristol Strategic Transport Study which was published last year and carried out by consultants acting on behalf of the Government Office for the South West, the Regional Development Agency, the Highways Agency and the four local authorities in the greater Bristol area.

This advice has now been included in the Joint Local Transport Plan for the period up to 2010/11 , adopted last year by the four local authorities. I believe that this plan provides an extremely comprehensive approach on a number of fronts to deal with traffic congestion that you refer to, and also other transport issues, and I consider that this is the effective plan you seek.

The greater Bristol area has been successful in obtaining a greater than expected share of funding earmarked through the Regional Funding Allocation, and work is now taking place to develop both the bus rapid transit proposals and four other major transport schemes in the greater Bristol area. For the first of these schemes developing the existing Greater Bristol Bus Network - the four councils are in partnership with First Group who will be investing

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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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