Save the Melksham Train
Archived Save the Train forum articles - 2005 to 2010. See below
Chaos at Reading Sat 17 Nov - 4762/8688
Written by courgettelawn on Monday, 19th November 2007

I really am having a great time on FGW services this month!

On Saturday 17 November there was a major 'security alert' at Reading causing the station to be closed around 0915.  We were making a long journey from Salisbury to Kingham in Oxfordshire.  It should have been on a normal day a straightforward connecting journey to Basingstoke, Reading then Kingham on the Worcester line.  There were engineering works around B'stoke so there was a bus from Andover.  In fact SW Trains were running the buses and trains very smoothly and we arrived in B'stoke in plenty of time for the connecting train.  However when we arrived the 0937 was to Reading was already cancelled with the advertised reason being crew shortages.  However almost immediately after there was meant to be a through Cross Country service but this wasn't even advertised.  SW Trains staff then made the announcement about the closure of Reading and that they were trying to organise coaches to come down from Wimbledon to try and ferry people onwards.  Remember at B'stoke all other trains were also buses!

Eventually about half an hour later Reading was re-opened and we were told that the 1037 would run to Reading.  Which it did.  Packed of course, all understandable of course.  SW Trains staff at Basingstoke were very helpful and informed.  I wish the same could be said at Reading.  Quite understandably staff there were fraught owing to the closure and passengers' many questions but it was their lack of knowledge that slightly concerned me.  They just didn't seem to know which trains had arrived, which had left which doesn't say much for their communications system and I really felt for them, they were trying extremely hard to provide information to which they only had partial access to.  Our onward connection to Kingham should have been at 1122 by the time we arrived at Reading but this was just marked as delayed for ages, and then disappeared off the board, no announcement at all.  We found a member of staff who assumed it had gone!  We said it can't have as we saw no train arrive at the platform (it was hailing from London Paddington).  It arrived at about midday still advertised for stations to Worcester Foregate Street.  When we were on and the train was moving we received an announcement that it would terminate at Oxford!  If we had known this beforehand we'd have never continued our journey.  We were so delayed it would have made continuing and trying to have a day out pointless.

While we were very patient and understanding of the circumstances out of FGW's control I felt that a lack of commnications was at the heart of people's discontent.  There was no way on literally _just_ leaving Reading a decision could be made to simply terminate the train.  Why not just tell people that at Reading and allow them to make the choice as to whether to continue their journey?  In the end several people queued up at Oxford to have their tickets endorsed to return back.  We requested to abandon our journey and received a slip of paper with an Oxford station stamp explaining.  It remains to be seen whether we get a full refund.

Re: Chaos at Reading Sat 17 Nov - 4762/8691
Written by Industry Insider on Monday, 19th November 2007

There was also an even more disruptive security alert at Reading the previous evening, and also a fatality (at, you've guessed it, Southall!) early that Friday afternoon leading to a miserable time. I believe the secutiry alert that CourgetteLawn is referring to turned out to be a laptop, and it shut the station for a relatively short time.

Knowing how the slightest problems now totally swamp the centralised control office at Swindon, I would not be in the least bit surprised if the decision to terminate at Oxford only filtered through to the staff as late as it did. Mind you, it did have some benefit as I was coming the other way along the Cotswold Line at the time and we had a clear run through on time as the other delayed train would surely have clobbered us at some point otherwise!

Re: Chaos at Reading Sat 17 Nov - 4762/8700
Written by courgettelawn on Monday, 19th November 2007

Good grief!  It sounds like Central Command at Swindon must have been burning up by Saturday afternoon.

I must reiterate how excellent the staff were at both Reading and Oxford in accommodating our abandoned journey.

Re: Chaos at Reading Sat 17 Nov - 4762/8872
Written by Industry Insider on Saturday, 1st December 2007

Another fatality at Southall barely two weeks from the last one today. Another young lady of asian origin to add to the many before? This is getting silly...

Re: Chaos at Reading Sat 17 Nov - 4762/8888
Written by admin (Graham Ellis) on Sunday, 2nd December 2007

[quote author=Industry Insider link=topic=4762.msg8872#msg8872 date=1196514799]
This is getting silly...

It is ... and as well as the very serious nature of the issues that drive someone to that, my thoughts go out to everyone - FGW staff and many others - who are affected by it and have to cope with the aftermath.

Re: Chaos at Reading Sat 17 Nov - 4762/10355
Written by Industry Insider on Monday, 25th February 2008

Two more fatalities today have caused major disruption to FGW services, one at Southall (that depressingly familiar location for such events) and the other at Hilsea between Southampton and Portsmouth.

And as usual service recovery from these incidents will be affected by the lack of supervisory staff on the ground at key stations leaving the few poor souls at the centralised resources centre at Swindon to try and run the whole show!

Re: Chaos at Reading Sat 17 Nov - 4762/10357
Written by WyvusArconius on Monday, 25th February 2008

At the Portsmouth end, everyone is at a near complete standstill. Staff were telling me that they dont expect the line to be open until at least 6pm.. tho he did say it depends at which point the police are happy that they understand what happened. SWT staff are bundling people into taxis and hastely aquired buses. Tis a bit chaotic.. but understandable.

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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