Save the Melksham Train
Archived Save the Train forum articles - 2005 to 2010. See below
Who should operate the TransWilts - 8029/13008
Written by admin (Graham Ellis) on Monday, 6th July 2009

We have concentrated so long and hard at working with First Great Western ... but seeing them hiring in units to work the line from other companies makes me wonder "perhaps these other companies would like to / should run the service themselves ..."

I don't think that Arriva Trains Wales are well placed ... their contract is with the Welsh assembly, and their units are based in Cardiff; it lacks logic for them to add an isolated English line to their network.

But South West Trains (who already provide the unit for the 07:02 Westbury - Swindon) are a different matter.  Their trains are actually based on the TransWilts, their crews already know the route as far as Trowbridge, and my understanding of ORCATS is that it could be financially attractive to them, in just the same way that ORCATS makes it financially attractive for FGW to run their 'extras' to Southampton and to Brighton.

It would also bring a sprinkling of competition into the area.  Look at Barry Doe's network map and you'll see the railway centres of York, Derby, Crewe, Doncaster and Crewe showing up multicoloured with a multitude of operators at each.  Swindon, though, is monochrome - just FGW.  Perhaps this monopoly is why train travel to and from Swindon is so expensive ... but that's a story for elsewhere

Re: Who should operate the TransWilts - 8029/13009
Written by admin (Graham Ellis) on Tuesday, 7th July 2009

For completeness, I have added a picture of the incumbent (First Great Western) and will make a summary of their case.

First Great Western have stated that their priority is to meet the specification, to run a reliable network, and to prioritise their company's finances over the provision of an appropriate service. They are indeed meeting the specification (which was changed to the detriment of appropriate timings to save them money) and indeed from being truely dreadful, they are now much much more reliable. And they are willing to run the service if subsidised (at a figure that has changed three fold in a year).

Actions speak louder than words, and First's actions in their bid for the franchise, and thereafter, have resulted in a severe degredagtion of provision for the traveller on the corridor.  The picture of their Saturday morning train to Swindon - the [color=Blue]once a week[/color] service that gives a good 'day in Swindon' opportunity with people queueing to join - shows once again that there is a market.

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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