Save the Melksham Train
Archived Save the Train forum articles - 2005 to 2010. See below
Melksham Bus/Rail Integration - 8053/13043
Written by Lee on Friday, 4th December 2009

Following the purchase of land next to Melksham station by Wiltshire Council, I have been looking into the possibilities for bus/rail integration, both in terms of the current situation and one of the scenarios for the future:


Re: Melksham Bus/Rail Integration - 8053/13056
Written by admin (Graham Ellis) on Tuesday, 22nd December 2009

There's a lot more forward looking that can be done to "piggy back" on the newly acquired land at Melksham Station ... indeed I put together some of the ideas to share with the people who travelled with the Melksham Railway Development Group / Santa special a couple of weeks ago.  Here is the 'longer' version of the accompanying text:

There are currently just four trains a day calling at Melksham (just 3 on Sunday) - two to Chippenham and Swindon, and two to Trowbridge and Westbury.  Recent work in evaluating an appropriate service point towards a service that is increased to hourly in each direction, possible in several steps with some coming quite soon.

Melksham Station is situated within easy access of the A350 and A365 roads - one of the few Wiltshire stations with road access which does not involve passing through a town centre or non-trunk roads, and as such would be ideal as a transport interchange / hub / park and ride.  It serves a town of some 22,000, plus a catchment area of other villages.  A further 2,000 homes are already authorised so that Melksham will continue to grow.  Many Melksham residents work in the town, but many commute to work in Swindon, Bristol, Bath and elsewhere - almost exclusively leaving the town by private car.  Train use at Melksham is very low - under 1 journey per head of population per year, as compared to between 20 and 50  journeys per year from other nearby towns such as Warminster, Bradford-on-Avon, Westbury, Trowbridge and Chippenham. This is due to the very limited service, and not due to inherintly different travel requirements from / to other towns.

As well as providing the only trains that serve Melksham, the "TransWilts" line as we unofficially call it provides the only direct rail link from Salisbusy, Warminster, Westbury and Trowbridge in the south and West of the county to Chippenham and Swindon in the north.  There are major travel 'flows' along this route - Trowbridge to Swindon has a heavy commuter flow, and although Chippenham has a station, you can ONLY catch a train twice a day - at 06:30 and 19:01 - to other stations in Wiltshire; that's pretty poor for one of the three key development towns.  Indirect rail services from north to south (at times of day when there is no TransWilts service) involve a dogleg via Bath - taking Trowbridge to Chippenham, that doubles the journey time from 20 minutes to over 40. The bus from Trowbridge to Chippenham takes 50 minutes.

Wiltshire Council recently purchased land that includes the approach road to Melksham Station, and various premises to the east comprising the old good yard and sheds, to safeguard it from sale by its previous owners for purposes which could have severly restricted access to the station, and prevented developments such as opening up an access through to North Melksham to make the station easier to access (including buses), and providing additional car parking and a taxi rank which would be needed if services and usage increased to a level comparable to other Wiltshire stations.

Wiltshire Council have asked for our (community) input as to what we would like to see done, even in the short term, to improve the area that they are now responsible for, and perhaps the station itself, in Melksham.  The question was put to the Melksham Railway Development Group meeting at the end of November, but rather than just consider the narrow question within the group, we are looking wider at strategic plans, so that we can ensure that short term work also has community support and long term gain.

Here's a list of ideas / options to move forward.  Which would YOU like to see?  Can you think of anything you would like so see added?

1. Integrated Transport
2. Signs and Welcome at the Station
3. Footpath through; road through
4. Information point
5. Diner / Coffee Shop
6. Publicity in Press
7. London outing
8. Community Area Partnership
9. Community Rail Partnership
10. Leaflets
11. More trains
12. Ticketing agency in Melksham
13. Better waiting room facilities
14. Groupathon
15. Taxi rank
16. Lighting for signs
17. Interactive touch screen
18. Weekend trains

Let's fill in on some of those:

1. Integrated Transport
        Get the buses to call at the station ... especially when they
        connect with a train!
2. Signs and Welcome at the Station
        At the moment there os NOTHING
3. Footpath through; road through
        Provide - at the least - a footpath / cycleway through to
        North Melksham and (better) put a roadway through. 
        Probably buses and taxis only / prevent "rat run".
4. Information point
        The current information point is unreliable and due to be
        replaced during 2010.  The new unit is scheduled to be a
        two button unit - one button to speak to National Rail
        Enquiries, and one to call emergency help.  The incremental
        cost for a unit with a display screen giving train information
        is an extra 2500 pounds.  Sponsorship, 5 x 500 pounds, from
        various community organisations?
5. Diner / Coffee Shop
        Not viable just on current railway traffic BUT as a snack
        bar for the industry too - open from 06:00 to 14:00 - and
        someone might take up the opportunity. See also 12
6. Publicity in Press
7. London outing
        20th March - 09:15 from Melksham, 11:07 London
        Return - 14:15 (back 15:45) or 20:06 (back 21:42)
        Provisional fare - adult 30 pounds return, children 10 pounds
8. Community Area Partnership
        The new Community Area Partnership for Melksham is looking to
        integrate community projects and work with the area board
9. Community Rail Partnership
        22nd January - Melksham Town Hall launch?  This is a county
        wide initiative / proposal we have had on the back burner
        and waiting for an opportune time - i.e. when we have someting
        to sell / support. We pulled in some 750 names to support our
        call for a better service, including representatives of many
        companies / bodies / voter groups and we can build on that; we
        may (or may not) look at the format "Community Rail Partnership"
        approcah; we understand that we don't need formal designation to
        use the description.
10. Leaflets
        Encourage people to know there is a train, and know how to
        use it. Easier timetables. Distribute via TIC and via paper
        insert.  Other day out opportunities.
11. More trains
        Huge subject - separate cover in detail.  Basically - every hour
12. Ticketing agency in Melksham?
        Cost - 4000 (per annum?) for setup / Commission on tickets sold
        of the order of 8% to 9% to agency.  Could work with Station
        Coffee Shop (or is McD close enough / interested?)
13. Better waiting room facilities
        Horrid draft blows under current shelter!
14. Groupathon
        See "London outing" - note the low cost fares.
        We can arrange for groups on other Saturdays at similar fares -
                and this will make a small profit to fund activities.
15. Taxi rank
        With taxis at station, reliably, for arriving daytime and evening
16. Lighting for signs
        Current sign showing train times is unlit / impossible to read
        when dark without a torch.  Also very complex for non-rail users.
17. Interactive touch screen
        Town Council was talking of an interactive screen in a show window
        and had potential funding source very short term.  Similar for
        station / what about running costs?  Could we get it online?
18. Weekend trains
        The improved timetables have essentially overlooked these.  There
        are no trains to divert / reschedule during breaks at weekends,
        but a further unit could be supplied from depot.

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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