Save the Melksham Train
Archived Save the Train forum articles - 2005 to 2010. See below
Heritage units on mainstream services - an option for the TransWilts? - 4563/8363
Written by admin (Graham Ellis) on Sunday, 28th October 2007

Very quietly, a handful of Train Operating Companies running main services have started to employ more "heritage" units on regular "main network" services.  The following have come to my attention:

Cardiff Bay services (A single car class 121 "Bubblecar")
Aylesbury to Princes Risborough (A similar unit)
Brockenhurst to Lymington Town and Lymington Pier (A heritage electric)
Ryde to Shanklin (about 6 heritage London underground trains)

It is said that the cost of purchasing outright, and restoring, the class 121 unit for the Aylesbury line was less that the cost of leasing it for a single year.  Wikipedia also shows a considerable number of other similar heritage units in service with Network Rail and from time to time, that fleet turns over.  Indeed, wikipedia shows one sitting out of use at the current time.

You're looking at - what - around 170k to 200k per annum to hire a more modern unit (that's assuming you can get one), and we are told that First - at a time when they understood the line's growth to be less that 1% per annum and had no first hand knowledge of operating the train service - bid 300k per annum to the government to run a respectable service under SLC2.  It looks like there might be mileage in a suggestion to "do and Aylesbury".

I note ... the Aylesbury line runs from a major town across to a junction on another line (compare Swindon to Westbury) ... and that the unit has been fitted with door mechanisms to mean that it meets the standards required from November 2005 that ruled out unmodified heritage units on such services after that date.

I also note that two of the four heritage services that I've mentioned above are run by the SWT franchise of Stagecoach - giving that company experience of such an operation. And they have a depot with diesel maintainance facilities sitting at Salisbury.

Two "bubblecars", passing each other between Trowbridge and Westbury, providing a 90 minute service between Swindon at Salisbury. From Salisbury at 06:00, 07:30, 09:00, 10:30, 12:00, 13:30, 15:00, 16:30, 18:00 and 19:30. Returning from Swindon at the same times.  Does this look attractive?  And with FGW continuing to run their extras from Swindon at 06:18 and 18:45, and from Westbury at 07:00 and 19:35. you have an appropriate daytime service with peak strengthening up to Swindon.  I do hope that crossticketing would be available!

Re: Heritage units on mainstream services - an option for the TransWilts? - 4563/8368
Written by admin (Graham Ellis) on Sunday, 28th October 2007

Heritage Diesel unit at Melkham, circa 1965 - Courtesy Melksham Hiostoric Society

Re: Heritage units on mainstream services - an option for the TransWilts? - 4563/8373
Written by Industry Insider on Monday, 29th October 2007

Not as strange an idea as it may seem. Indeed I've seen the Aylesbury shuttle sat at Princes Risborough a couple of times - It doesn't half look strange with Central Door Locking lights and electronic information displays!

I'm almost surprised that some beaurocratic nonsense doesn't ban them based on carbon emmissions though...  ::)

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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