Save the Melksham Train
Archived Save the Train forum articles - 2005 to 2010. See below
22 ways to render a service as useless as possible - 7946/12849
Written by admin (Graham Ellis) on Monday, 12th January 2009

It was suggested elsewhere that there's no longer any need for groups that campaign against closure, as in the current political climate it would be impossible to push such a closure though.  But in my view, there needs to be a watch kept against tricks and techniques that are used to lessen the service and reduce its effectiveness to the extent that the service is almost as little use as if it was totally gone. Perhaps these techniques are employed intentionally - to make it easier to quietly remove the service all together, later on. I don't know, but we should remain on guard.

Full article at:

Some additional notes (mostly TransWilts specific) that show where these techniques have all been used.  Some of these may now be history, but very recent history ... and I expect we'll find other things in due course

1. Don't display the timetables
-- look for times to Swindon at Trowbridge!

2. Run only in Marginal Times
-- 06:15 and 18:45 services only - Swindon to Westbury

3. Saturday or Sunday (or Tuesday!) service Only
-- Pilning

4. The one way train - no way back
-- Polesworth, Shippea Hill

5. Failing connections - scheduled to miss by five minutes
-- From London into the 06:15, Swindon to Melksham

6. Parliamentary service
-- Just one train a day from Keynsham direct to Filton

7. Replacement by bus due to health and safety
-- Newhaven Marine

8. Oops - no way to get on the platform
-- Norton Bridge

9. It's not advertised
-- Ealing to Wandsworth

10. "Didn't you see the consultation paper behind the filing cabinet?"
-- SRA "consultation" on FGW franchise

11. "Support wasn't unaninymous"
-- One guy from outside the area suggested that the Train used on the Transwilts be moved to improve a local service from his station.

12. Price 'em off
-- Swindon to Salisbury - 50 pounds direct (TransWilts line), 21 pounds with a change at Bath

13. Don't put it on the National Rail site.
-- For a time, only one of the two daily transwilts trains (the 06:15 off Swindon) was offered, with evening commuters to Melksham being told to change at Bath and Trowbridge

14. "Dont talk about it - you might make it happen" says the civil servant
-- [name withheld] - Senior person at the DfT

15. Don't distribute the right timetable
-- FGW have sent Melksham TIC timetables for Chippenham and Trowbridge but NOTHING that includes Melksham.  And (as of 1st Jan, but it may have been replaced), the Market Place bus stop in Melksham showed train times that expired in May 2008 and lacked the current service details.

16. Bustitute frequently
-- Westbury - Swindon is bustituted if there are diversions in effect, or if the Swindon - Gloucester line is shut.

17. Make 'em change buses
-- Westbury to Melksham - if there's a bus running Westbury - Bath, start the TransWilts bus at Trowbridge - so that passengers coming from (say) Warminster have to change twice.

18. Leave 'em standing at unmanned stations without phone or information
-- The information point at Melksham is regularly out of use for months at a time, and there is no public phone.

19. "Not my responsibility" - smoke and mirrors.
-- FGW -> DfT -> W(C)C -> FGW.

20. Don't provide any means of selling tickets and counting passengers
-- On substitute bus services at Chippenham / Melksham; not only are tickets no checked but sometimes the can't even be bought if you want to.

21. Run to a destination that offers little traffic
-- Dilton Marsh - many passengers want(ed) to go to Salisbury, but trains now often terminate at Warminster just AFTER the Salisbury train has left

Could add 22 "These things take time to put right" and "We'll commission a report" when asked to act!

Re: 22 ways to render a service as useless as possible - 7946/12851
Written by Lee on Thursday, 15th January 2009

You could soon have some more stations to add to your list (link below.)

Re: 22 ways to render a service as useless as possible - 7946/12852
Written by Lee on Saturday, 17th January 2009

See also Graham's recent visit to Denton railway station (links below.)

Re: 22 ways to render a service as useless as possible - 7946/12855
Written by admin (Graham Ellis) on Wednesday, 21st January 2009

[quote author=Lee link=topic=7946.msg12851#msg12851 date=1232005325]
You could soon have some more stations to add to your list (link below.)

It's a very tough one this, Lee ... with some mixed signals.

On one hand, you have lines such as the TransWilts / towns such as Melksham were a very large number of the 22 issues ... I can come up with local examples of 1, 2, 5, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 22 which I think is more than just bad management / don't care attitude but shows some sort of deliberate co-ordination.  And on the other hand you'll have cases where just a handful of these things apply, and it's arguable whether someone is doing some intentional wrecking and if they are ... they might be just a minority.

I'm happy with my list.  I simply don't know about Umberleigh and Chapleton and Portsmouth Arms.  But it does no harm to ask and say "oy", does it?

Re: 22 ways to render a service as useless as possible - 7946/12856
Written by admin (Graham Ellis) on Saturday, 24th January 2009

I've had some correspondence with regards to this thread.

Lest we forget ... this:

is what the Saturday afternoon train (about a quarter to six) used to load like on a typical winter Saturday - it was busier in summer and in the lead up to Christmas.

If you go to Swindon at 17:45 on a Saturday evening now, you have to wait until about 9 p.m. for the TransWilts service, and it's virtually empty. I can't see any positive logical timing for the new service but I could understand it if someone told me that the timing was at that hour on a Saturday evening - too late for soccer matches and shoppers, but too early for theatre returns - in order to supress, in steps, the number of passengers using the train.

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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