Save the Melksham Train
Archived Save the Train forum articles - 2005 to 2010. See below
3 Stories - 6041/10415
Written by Lee on Thursday, 28th February 2008

Interesting MTLS Forum post, with Story 2 being of particular relevance (link below.)

Re: 3 Stories - 6041/10425
Written by admin (Graham Ellis) on Thursday, 28th February 2008

Here's part of my reply - the second item related to Dilton Marsh to Chippenham


First Great Western took over the running of the "TransWilts" train service from Wessex Trains on 1st April 2006, which provided direct trains from Salisbury, Warminster and Dilton Marsh to Melksham, Chippenham and Swindon. The "TransWilts" provided Melksham - a town with a propulation of 24000 - with its only train service.  First Great Western withdrew the entire existing service on the route the following December, and now run just two new services a day on the line. You can leave Dilton Marsh at 06:36 or 17:32, and change at Westbury, you now have to change at Westbury, and will arrive at Chippenham at 07:30 or 20:01 (LONG wait at Westbury on that one).  It's "scarcely an attarctive proposition" to quote First's press release on the subject of this line in the last few days.  You might question whether the service that First withdrew was used very much - yes, it was - it had been growing rapidly from 2001, the Office of the Rail Regulator quoting growth figures of 35% per annum when I asked.  However, the 2007 and 2008 service is based on historic (2002) figures which were low since Wessex had recast the service the year before, and the extra trains hadn't (by that point) built up a full, regular clientelle.

Isn't that awful news?  Trowbridge to Swindon - another use of the same train - takes 35 minutes by rail on the 2 remaining through trains (07:06 and 19:41) or 95 minutes on the through bus - "Express" service 49.

Good News???

I have been helping with a campaign known as Save the Train which has been running since well before cuts happened, calling for an appropriate "TransWilts" service - and we now look as is we might be getting somewhere; there's certainly a good chance of an improved service from next December.

The idea is that IN ADDITION to the current services, a train would run on the Salisbury to Swindon route every 3 hours or so, giving arrivals in Swindon at around 08:50, 11:35, 14:35 and 17:35 (as well as the current 07:50 and 20:20), leaving again at 06:20, 09:00, 12:00, 15:00, 17:55 and 18:45.  For Dilton Marsh to Chippenham at the time you wanted to travel, it would give you a direct service at about 13:45 with a journey time of about 30 minutes.

Many thanks to the "MTLS" team for including Melksham / Chippenham (Swindon) in their press release recently - campaigns such as fare strike would be pointless on the TransWilts as we have no trains on which to make the protest, but we very much share objectives in looking for an appropriate service on all lines inthe area - timetables, fares, reliabiity, cleanliness, information ... and we may be getting there.  It's not a dream - it's possible. First, the County Council and the DfT have already done a lot of the background work and the extra trains just announced - 10 carriages - can provide the one carriage needed - it will, of course, reduce overcrowding on Trowbridge - Bath as a lot of the passengers on there change at Bath for Chippenham / Swindon.  Ah - I think I am offering a solution for your "Story 1" as well.  ;D

If YOU want to help ... please write to First Great Western, to your MP, to the County, and to the Department for Transport ... please help us keep the TransWilts element on the table.  We've in a position at the moment where inputs can make a serious difference.

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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