Save the Melksham Train
Archived Save the Train forum articles - 2005 to 2010. See below
Westbury connections onwards from and to Swindon trains. - 4317/8018
Written by admin (Graham Ellis) on Thursday, 4th October 2007

One of the characteristics of the "TransWilts" up to last December was the amount of through traffic beyond Westbury - we shouldn't forget that many of the services were through to / from Southampton or Frome.  But the franchise specification specifically did not allow the service to be linke on to Salisbury  / Southampton.  A pity, as the 06:56 off Melksham was a popular Salisbury train.

In the new timetable, I note some longer distance running.

05:29 Gloucester
06:18 Swindon
07:01 Westbury
07:36 Salisbury
08:09 Southampton

The extension back to Salisbury is welcome - it replaces a "connects if you're lucky" at the moment. Onward to Southampton it's within a dozen minutes of an SWT train, so it may be doubling up.

The Southbound evening train starts at Cheltenham, but runs out of steam at Westbury, but with a connection onwards 12 minutes later to Salisbury and Southampton.  Frome passenger fare badly, with a 27 minute wait, and you would have to wait over 2 hours for a Yeovil train.

Northbound, there's a six minute connection off the 06:43 from Frome into the 07:02 to Swindon and Cheltenham (09:02 arrival), but from Salisbury you would have to leave at 06:12 and hand around for 22 minutes at Westbury.    And in the evening, heading for the 19:32 from Swindon and Cheltenham, you would have to leave Frome at 18:27 and hang around for 56 minutes, or leave Salisbury at 18:40 and hang around for 24 minutes.

So there are good connections Northbound in the morning from Frome, but it's pretty poor on the way back in the evening.    And there's a good southbound service to Salisbury in the morning, but a long wait on the way back at either time of day.    Since the travel flows are largely round trips at each end of the day, doesn't it strike you as peverse that the connections are good one way but not the other in each case?

What do those of you who carry on beyond Wesbury think of the connectional changes and the new through train in the morning?

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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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