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My Melksham experience, last weekend - 6696/11218
Written by chris from nailsea on Tuesday, 1st April 2008
Determined to attend a very important meeting in Melksham last weekend, I travelled by train, as follows:
Friday evening - FGW to Chippenham, to catch the vital 1901 connection to Melksham. I decided to catch the 1813 from Bath Spa (arriving Chippenham at 1824), rather than the 1843 (arriving Chippenham at 1855), just in case ... and I was glad I did!
The 1813 from Bath Spa went well until approaching Box Tunnel, but then stopped, apparently in the middle of nowhere. After several false starts by the train manager, trying to make announcements explaining the reason for the delay, we were told that 'there was a fault with the train but the driver was rectifying it'. We then resumed our journey, although there were loud mechanical noises from under the carriage I was sitting in. We arrived at Chippenham, late - but still in plenty of time for me to make that vital connection with the 1901 to Melksham!
I sat at Chippenham, waiting for the train National Rail Enquiries had suggested I should catch, the 1843 from Bath Spa. Initially shown on the screens as 'on time', that service started slipping, eventually arriving not at 1855 but at 1905. Not to be outdone, the train from Swindon that was to form my connection to Melksham was also delayed - but arrived at 1904!
Re: My Melksham experience, last weekend - 6696/11220
Written by Industry Insider on Tuesday, 1st April 2008
[quote author=chris from nailsea link=topic=6696.msg11218#msg11218 date=1207009839]
We then resumed our journey, although there were loud mechanical noises from under the carriage I was sitting in. Therefore, as the delayed Chippenham to Melksham train departed, just as the delayed 1843 Bath Spa to Chippenham arrived, I would have missed the connection and spent a very cold and lonely night on the platform at Chippenham, if I hadn't caught that previous HST from Bath Spa!
What sort of mechanical noises? I mean a HST MK3 carriage is a fairly simple beast, one brake pipe runs through the train controlled via the driver controlling the leading power car. Some vehicles get 'flats' on the wheel occasionally which are generally no cause for concern, though are noticable if your seat is positioned above the affected axle/bogie.
And if you'd have missed a recognised connection (i.e. one quoted via the NRE website), just contact station staff - i assume there would be some at 7pm on a weekday at Chippenham - who would be obliged (under the national conditions of carriage) to either a) get you to your destination via other means, or b) provide you with alternative accomodation for the night.
Re: My Melksham experience, last weekend - 6696/11231
Written by Sion Bretton on Tuesday, 1st April 2008
When I have missed the connection as train from Bristol is later.
I have been put into a taxi. This happens when the 19.01 is cancelled.
Re: My Melksham experience, last weekend - 6696/11236
Written by admin (Graham Ellis) on Tuesday, 1st April 2008
Chris, welcome to the board.
I think that was the first - or perhaps second - Saturday this year that all the scheduled trains via Melksham (all four of them) actually ran!
From the summer of 2005 onwards, right through 2006, I travelled on the line during the week and at weekends, and was impressed by the heavier use made than were shown in figures ... and 120,000 journeys / 27000 ticket sales just at Melksham are quite impressive figures for a line that had one tenth of that traffic 5 years earlier. Even at that time, weekend engineering works were effecting services on about half the weekends.
Andrew Griffiths promised that we would see a huge change in reliability from December 2006 in conjunction with the change in timetable with the appalling cuts. He made it sound like "at least it will get better in reliability terms" but thinking back, he didn't actually say that and I suspect he knew all along that the remaining services, timed to make them impractical for most existing users to continue to patronise, would also be so unreliable that it would at time run near-empty.
The service has huge potential with very little needed to make it work properly - especially on a Saturday. Keep the service running every weekend unless there are engineering works actually on the line (no, it should NOT be replaced by a bus if there are works at Kemble!), use a train that shuttles up and down between the current very odd timings or instead of them, and the service can grow again. Feed it with publicity and, given 12 to 24 months, you'll have something that's even stronger.
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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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