|Rail future - the First Alternative
These are growth times for the First Group, with their clever strategy of bidding everyone else off court for rail franchises. They read into government policy a requirement for a big financial return from rail, and that's what they're providing. They read that there's no need to continue to provide more than a token service to towns such as Newquay, Barnstaple, Looe, Ivybridge, Melksham, Saltash, Severn Beach. They read that there's no need to provide reasonable cost travel, so they've withdrawn tickets such as the SuperSaver with replacements all being more restrictive and/or more expensive. So the norm for the future is the 50p - per - mile service between main centres, and a network that in a few years time will simply end at those centres.
Derek Twigg, the Minister with Rail Responsibility, answered a quesion from his opposition opposite number Chris Grayling telling him that "All premium payments received from rail franchises are appropriated in aid by the Department and the funds are made available for spending on transport."
In other words, Mr Twigg, the money that you're collecting from the First group bids will be subsidising other programs such as roads and buses ... there's just been 42 Million pounds awarded to the Bristol Showcase bus scheme and - guess what - First stand to benefit as the operator of most of those routes. They're getting their money back by playing the game the way the Department for Transport wish is to be played.
This has implications beyond just the Great Western area. The South West trains franchise is coming up soon, and it's rumoured that First will put in another massive bid and win it. I don't know how good the rumours are, but a leopard doesn't change its spots, so that would be a logical step for them. And that other leopard - the DfT - won't change its spots either, so chances are that First will get it.
How long, then, trains to Lymington, already running with the last two slam-door trains because the electrics on the line can't take current units? Does Alton really need a train service? Wouldn't it be logical to transfer diesel operations to the Great Western operation? What about a host of stations along the coast - wouldn't a simple Southampton - Bournemouth - Poole - Dorchester - Weymouth service be all that's needed, with customers from Brockenhurst, from Wareham, from Moreton being encouraged to "railhead".
Far fetched? Maybe. But consider this ... the population of Brockenhurst is around 6,000. Of Wareham, around 8,000. Of Melksham, currently under threat of loosing most of its trains, around 24,000. Of Alton, 16,500.
And also consider ... the tender specification for the Great Western was for 7 to 10 years of operation, but already this summer, First are surveying usage of trains on the "Cornish Branch Lines" at least. It looks rather as if the inclusion of a service in a 7 to 10 year franchise won't preclude the culling of services during that time. After all, I rather suspect that the new general railway legislation that makes rail closure easier is being put onto the statute book for use, and not just as a paper exercise.
Will Melksham still have trains in 2008?
Will Cornwall be just the Penzance line by 2013?
Will Brunel's Saltash bridge still carry passengers in 2018?
Will the seawall at Dawlish simply fall into the sea in 2023, and trains be cut back to Exeter or Bristol?
Will the old GWR line from London to Bristol, run as a heritage railway, be all that is left by 2028?
And will that too be closed by 2033 under a weight of tax and regulation?
Written 2006-07-11 05:41:17
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Encouraging traffic not just warm words
Official (Government) view ... and I agree
Don't believe everything you hear
Old pictures. Not to be repeated event
Great meeting but just a start.
35% Growth in one year - Melksham ticket statistics
Swindon to Trowbridge
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Didn't you read page 52 of web document?
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Would this government close a station completely?
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Tuesday, 18th October - Kiss and Ride day
Six NEW factors why the TransWilts train that serves Melksham should be enhanced and not cut
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Try the train on 18th October
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Keeping the campaign tail up
Don't drink and drive - drink and train.
Driving customers away?
Latest official answer
At Temple Meads today
Melksham and TransWilts train service - closure by stealth?
From the rumour mill
Santa Claus at Melksham Station
Train service fading away too?
Greater Western Franchise awarded
First Group - First answer on Melksham
First specific Melksham rumour ...
Virtually no service - or excellent service. Request the latter.
Should badgers be culled?
Melksham rail traffic up 33% in 3 months
Every journey has a story
New fares from 2nd January 2006
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Even new stations don't always survive
A comparison across the world
Christmas service - unrequired, or just unprovided?
New year, 2006
Bustitution - buses for trains on Saturdays and Sundays
The Meeting Season
Reply from MD of First Great Western
Wilts County Council could save the Melksham / Transwilts train
What does First pay the government for Greater Western?
Railway statistics and Melksham comparisons - how do we stand?
Winners and losers in the Devizes constituency
First want to hear your aspirations
Repeat - PLEASE write in with your aspirations
Were they purchasing votes?
Current status ...
Keep watching - coming to the boil!
From my postbag ...
Timetable consultation coming up
Waiting, with baited breath
Meeting with a local MP
Today or tomorrow
Draft Timetable is here
Out with the old users, in with the new
On the 05:52 this morning
Background and opinion
Draft timetables (continued)
Three and a half answers out of 4
A week is a long time
Roger Jones answers 5 months later!
Safer current trains - the 06:56, 07:45 and 18:09
INPUTS NEEDED by 8th March
Meetings and Consultation Responses
A whole pile of responses
Ploughing back OUR money, not theirs.
New pages and information
On supporting other campaigns ...
Not just the TransWilts and Melksham ...
Service failure looses more customers
The Waiting Game
Real time train monitoring
Someone can't wait!
UPDATE - new timetables
An update - BAD, BAD news for Melksham ...
First - transforming travel
Southampton to Westbury RESTORED
Friday, 21st, Trowbridge
Meeting, Friday 21st
Celebrating a closure
What SWPTUF says
Meeting, 21st - notes
Parliamentary Debate, 25th April
First back down or buses too.
Diary Date - 12th May
RailFuture meeting today
RailFuture meeting - some gems
First way to get rid of customers?
Friday meeting - invite and details
It gets worse
Every so often, stop and look
Bus service costs 25 pounds per passenger to run?
Carrying fresh air around?
Put yourself in their shoes
Lies, damned lies and statistics
Our battle ....
... is part of a planned war
Political pressure - press release
How to catch the 18:48 from Chippenham - the DfT suggests
Internet connection issues
Selling off any possibility of improvement
Letter from Derek Twigg
Important but not refreshing meeting
Welcome for Michael Ancram and Chris Grayling
Visit by Chris Grayling and Michael Ancram
Friday, 7th July - Melksham
Pivotal decison - to grow or to strangle?
Bad news coming?
In praise of estate agents
Press Release - Open Access operator negotiations
Open Access case strengthened
A desire for honesty
Flowers for Melksham. Flowers at Melksham.
Has our publicity reached the right people?
One year on
A year on - an empty bank holiday
Bus connections to Melksham from Chippenham
Is this train used?
If its working well, change it so it doesnt.
20% service cut = 40% traffic cut?
A difficult choice for voters
Consultant's reports recommended a modest INCREASE
From Ystrad Mynach
Passenger or lemmings
Behind the new timetable
Is this fare?
Returning from their UK course
End of term - don't care
Current and future summary
2 weeks to go
Coming to a course in Melksham
Last Week - Press Release
They're gone ... but ...
New service - first impressions
"Told you so"
Welcome to 2007
PLEASE LOBBY - First, Dft, County Council, your MP
Keeping the diary rolling
Save the Train v More Train, Less Strain
Invite letter - 5th March 2007 meeting
IMPROVED PUBLIC TRANSPORT LINKS ACROSS WILTSHIRE?
Passengers or Customers?
A fast-moving story?
The traveller, not the train!
Report - Monday night's meeting - press brief
What is happening?
Reply to Petition
Petition Response - detail, opinion, context
Government pressure to shut up. But let us look forward.
Asking for the political and part views
Helsinki and Heathrow to Melksham - Saturday
Gordon Dodge, Rest in Peace
The way forward - improved service and improved station
A roundup from a MELKSHAM perspective
Update being updated!
News Roundup - a LOT is happening
New faces - mayors and chairs.
We have another hill to climb
Radio - tomorrow morning?
Weymouth, Poor Provisional, and Sunday
A Comparison - travel in the USA by train
The Ghost Train, Purton
How to fill platforms, and railway company coffers too!
FSB - North and West Wilts Commitee - Federation of Small Businesses
Frustrated but not depairing
Front page update
Comment on December timetables
A First to Stagecoach comparison
Does the new man want to play hard?
And the week ends with two more cancellations!
Comparing a Wiltshire town with a Norfolk one
Commutes are longer, and in the west we may know why
Campaigning Mantra - Philosophy behind the case
30 late, and a bus not a train ....
Staffing-go-round - but the campaigners carry on
Rail user groups do NOT represent rail users?
Cancellations, Changes and Crass Christmas
First Great Western's Melksham service branded "a disgrace"
A pile of 160 train tickets for tomorrow
Santa Claus spotted at Swindon Station
TransWilts trains ceased a year ago. Lets look forward
Trains to and from Melksham - Timetable from Dec07 to May08
Happy Christmas everyone!
How have trains being doing in the last 48 hours?
Asda - an opportunity that can be used or squandered
Another slap in the face from First Great Western
On truthfully advertising the case
Fare Strike Day
Comparing a different part of the country
Where has our train gone?
Want to comment? You're welcome on the forum
An unusual journey for me - some observations
The heart says "public transport", the head forces car
Not a Swiss clock railway this morning
Senseless service - could become sensible
Terminal 5 - a portent for the Olympics?
Loss of train - loss of job
Population growth, but congested roads
Road - busy ... railway - no trains, so no users
One long journey ends and another begins
Campaign update - news for December 08 / 09 / 10 / 11 ...
Preserved Railways - a look forward
Spring 2009 Campaign update
Letter to DfT
Save the train
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