Save the Melksham Train
Archived Save the Train forum articles - 2005 to 2010. See below
Old problems still persist - shame on FGW - 4442/8205
Written by courgettelawn on Monday, 15th October 2007

I thought I would share my disappointment and frustration at both my outward and return journey on Saturday 13th October, travelling from Salisbury to Bristol.

Out.  Took the 10.40 to Bristol Temple Meads. Surely a 'peak' service considering many travelling rugby fans on route to Bath Spa, many shoppers and long-distance weekend travellers with luggage.  We had a two-coach 158.  The train did not empty at Salisbury greatly and although we were lucky to find seats many at this stage were filling the corridors and even the guard's cab! I will say nothing of the suitcases.  By Warminster there was no improvement and while the guard tried his best to shepherd people all the way down the corridor, people were left at the station.  This was worse at both Westbury and Trowbridge, hardly anyone was able to get on let alone claim reserved seats.  There was a large amount of emptying at Bath Spa (predictable?)  Now, I do not know if the abandoned passengers were a) given appropriate excuse and apology or b) if alternative transport was organised.  All throughout, there was no announcement but I do not blame the guard for this and indeed many were complementary at the way he tried hard to make the best of a very bad situation.  I would like to add that there were two 158 units sitting pretty at a siding at Westbury which many noticed and were not impressed by, regardless of the 'technical' reasons as to why these were not pressed into service.

Return.  Arrived in time for the 20.22 back to Salisbury. There was no indication of the service on the departure board let alone which platform: odd.  We thought it could be the mysterious service to Barnham advertised at 20.25 so went to the platform (11) and saw a two-coach 158 and assumed it must be this train.  However the train sat at the platform, no lights, doors shut.  Mysterious Barnham service disappeared and no announcement or advertisement for the 20.22 to Portsmouth.  On finding a station guard he informed us that the train was cancelled but they chose not to advertise the fact - or indeed the service!  There was no driver. Reason? None given.  We were to wait for the 21.22.  This meant that one of my travelling companions whose onward journey was to Winchester would not reach until 00.10 with a 45-minute wait at Southampton, a woman on her own at not the most pleasant station!!!  This made her total 'journey' almost 4 hours as this service missed the appropriate connection at Southampton Central.

In the final analysis the 21.22 which was advertised for the same platform as the cancelled 20.22 service left from platform 1 - an alteration made at the last minute making us all run while the two empty driverless units were still sitting at platform 11.

These are two problems FGW CANNOT blame Network Rail for.  They are 'old' problems that on a number of occasions they have claimed to improve: capacity and cancellations due to inappropriate resources.

I look forward to the excuses.

May I add I also heard many echoes of: "might as well drive next time."

Re: Old problems still persist - shame on FGW - 4442/8207
Written by Lee on Monday, 15th October 2007

Believe it or not , I was on the 2122. I didnt know about what had gone on before because I connected from 2107 arrival from Severn Beach (nice Class 158 unit.)

More on this in the link below.

Re: Old problems still persist - shame on FGW - 4442/8208
Written by Industry Insider on Monday, 15th October 2007

Not good at all, I agree. I sometimes think that Saturdays and Sundays are an awkward inconvienience for First and get much less planning attention than weekdays.

Until the management of FGW try to tackle the basics they should not bother with station poets, high speed dating, and all the other publicity making crap they insist on involving themselves in.

Re: Old problems still persist - shame on FGW - 4442/8219
Written by courgettelawn on Monday, 15th October 2007

What a coincidence, Lee!  No, there would have been no indication on the 21.22 as that ran more or less to time up till Salisbury and there was plenty of room!

Re: Old problems still persist - shame on FGW - 4442/8220
Written by courgettelawn on Monday, 15th October 2007

And related... read Tonya's post on alleged FGW recruitment freeze:;topicseen

Re: Old problems still persist - shame on FGW - 4442/8221
Written by admin (Graham Ellis) on Tuesday, 16th October 2007

[quote author=Industry Insider link=topic=4442.msg8208#msg8208 date=1192464053]
Not good at all, I agree. I sometimes think that Saturdays and Sundays are an awkward inconvienience for First and get much less planning attention than weekdays.

Indeed.  I find it intersting that the busiest time for long distance travel in this country is late on Sunday afternoon / early Sunday evening, and yet those are the timetable about which there seems to be the least consultation and they're the last ones out.

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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