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Trowbridges Forgotten Railway - 8042/13027
Written by admin (Graham Ellis) on Sunday, 1st November 2009
Twice an hour, a train leaves Trowbridge, the county town of Wiltshire, for Bradford-on-Avon and on to Bath and Bristol. Twice an hour, trains leave Trownbridge for Westbury, and on to Salisbury and Southampton, or Weymouth. And just twice a day, a train leaves Trowbridge for Melksham, and to Chippenham and Swindon, and Stroud and Gloucester and Cheltenham. It's Trowbridge's forgotten railway, also know as the "TransWilts" line, and it's the only railway that links Wiltshire's main five population centres - Swindon and Salisbury, Trowbridge, Melksham and Chippenham.
Why is the service TransWilts service so poor? That's a story for another day ... but suffice to say there are major travel requirements from West Wiltshire to Chippenham and Swindon - it's already one of the South West's top 50 commutes, and Swindon, Chippenham, Melksham and Trowbridge are all scheduled to grow dramatically in the next 15 years. By road, the journey from Trowbridge to Swindon takes an hour (90 minutes if you use the bus) ... by train it can be done in 35 minutes - but only at 07:06 and 19:37. And the rail line is in excellent condition (maintained as a useful diversionary route for passengers from London to the South West, and freight from Southampton to the Midlands and North) with sufficient capacity (declared by Network Rail) for an hourly passenger train each way.
The Melksham Railway Development Group is running a "Santa Special" from Trowbridge, via the TransWilts line, to Swindon on Sunday, December 6th. The train leaves Trowbridge Station at 17:10 (ten past five) and Father Christmas will be on board, handing out presents to alll of the children. Adults will get a minced pie, and everyone will be given an appropriate beverage. Tickets for the trip are on sale at Trowbridge Tourist Information Centre (you can't buy them at the station!) and are limited in numbers. Cost - 9 pounds per adult, and 3 pounds per child (aged up to and including 15).
The train also calls at Melksham station to pick up people who want to meet Father Christmas and enjoy a trip to Swindon at 17:20; it gets back there at 19:00, and back to Trowbridge at 19:10. Melksham tickets are 7 pounds (adult) and 3 pounds (child) and on sale at Melksham Tourist Information Centre.
This is a great opportunity to meet Father Christmas, and to enjoy a train ride from Trowbridge across North Wiltshire to Swindon. Contact details: via email to email@example.com, by phone to Sion Bretton on 01225 700740 or Graham Ellis on 01225 708225. To learn more about the TransWilts line, and the campaign for an appropriate service, see http://www.transwilts.org.uk, and for the associated general forum on rail travel in the area, see http://www.firstgreatwestern.info/coffeeshop
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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
Letter to DfT
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