Save the Melksham Train
Save the Train v More Train, Less Strain

I'm posting up this comparison ... written in answer to an email this morning ... to help people differenetiate between the two groups

"Save the Train" was started around 18 months ago (August 2005) with the main goal of providing an appropriate train service from Swindon to Westbury and beyond after December 2006, when it was threatened with reduction by over 60%, in spite of dramatically growing usage. Although we had the support of hundreds of people who actively signed up, and produced evidence of ongoing growth that would have continued had the service done so, it was cut back last December. Worse than that, the 2 remaining trains are now timed such that they don't appear to meet the most important customer needs. The 06:19 leaves Swindon (largest town in Wiltshire) almost empty for Chippenham (4th largest), Melksham (5th), Trowbridge (3rd), Westbury, Warminster and Salisbury (2nd largest). The 18:42 leaves long after the regular commuters from Swindon to these places have left by other means - primarily by private car. The Train Operating Company hasn't provided me with any information as to the potential market they see for these new timings, but that have pointed to the need to re-use the same train on other lines to provide peak services there.

"More Train, Less Strain" was formed as a response to the December 2006 cuts in frequency and length of train services from Frome, Trowbridge, Bath and intermediate stations into Bristol, and the unreliability of the remaining services. The changes effect a large number of people and the highly publicised "fare strike" organised by the group appeared to win some respite - although it's very much 10 steps backwards and just 1 forward (a few carriages added back in where many were removed) and questions are being asked as to how permanent, or otherwise, the step forward will prove to be.

I am a resident of Melksham, Wiltshire, served ONLY by the Swindon to Westbury service which we have called the "TransWilts"; I host the "Save the Train" website at and I started the recent petition to the Prime Minister at which gathered 1690 signatures in 3 weeks, making it number 8 out of 402 petitions on transportation and infrastructure.

The key players in "More Train, Less Strain" are Simon Carpenter of Frome, Tony Ambrose and Peter Andrews. Their web site is at . Since this is a new group that "Save the Train", their web visibility is not as high and searches via Google on their name currently rank "Save the Train" higher.

I've met with Tony and Peter, and we're in agreement that our groups need to liaise (at the least) as we're both looking for appropriate / decent services using the same pool of trains, with the same operator and regulation system involved. However, the distortions of the current timetable mean we have very different situations currently on the ground, with overcrowded peak hour trains on Peter and Tony's line, and no peak trains at all (passengers now on the road) on the TransWilts.

Simon, Tony and Peter are your best contacts for the future direction of "MTLS", but I can tell you something of the future plans for "Save The Train".

At "Save the Train", we are very much in touch with all the key players and looking to work with them to sort out the current situation which, frankly, does no-one any good. It's pretty pointless running an empty pre-dawn train ... which is empty because anyone who wanted to use it for their daily commute wouldn't have an appropriate return service 8 hours or so later. So we're working with First (who have been looking at the possibility of timetabling a round trip every 2 hours), the Department for Transport (from whom I've received an email overnight suggesting we might like to look at a community rail service initiative), our MPs (supporting all along the line - right across Wiltshire), county, district and town councils, other rail user groups, rail trades unions and staff, etc. We could well be at a "cusp" - though it's hard to tell - where we CAN continue the push to an appropriate service and get that running before the end of the year.

Even before I heard from the DfT, I was planning to call a co-ordination meeting in 4 weeks time and invite all the key players to look at the railway service and its provision from the community's viewpoint - to look at not only providing but also sustaining the service henceforth. That meeting is scheduled for 5th March, in Melksham.

The "Save the Train" website has continued to monitor services and developments, and grow. We have had a number of requests for forums in which services on other FGW lines can be discussed by the franchise's customers, and we are now also hosting the site for that purpose. There is merit in co-ordination. We are very much aware that the stengthening of one servicve could lead to the reduction or abandonment of another - indeed, the 06:47 Frome to Bristol grew to 4 coaches in a blaze of publicity, in week that the 06:44 from Melksham was cancelled more often than it ran.

Written 2007-02-09 06:50:00

Available entries ...

Spring 2009 Campaign update
Preserved Railways - a look forward
Campaign update - news for December 08 / 09 / 10 / 11 ...
One long journey ends and another begins
Road - busy ... railway - no trains, so no users
Population growth, but congested roads
Loss of train - loss of job
Terminal 5 - a portent for the Olympics?
Senseless service - could become sensible
Not a Swiss clock railway this morning
The heart says "public transport", the head forces car
Meeting Season
Milk producers
An unusual journey for me - some observations
Want to comment? You're welcome on the forum
Where has our train gone?
Comparing a different part of the country
Fare Strike Day
On truthfully advertising the case
Another slap in the face from First Great Western
Asda - an opportunity that can be used or squandered
How have trains being doing in the last 48 hours?
Happy Christmas everyone!
Trains to and from Melksham - Timetable from Dec07 to May08
TransWilts trains ceased a year ago. Lets look forward
Santa Claus spotted at Swindon Station
A pile of 160 train tickets for tomorrow
First Great Western's Melksham service branded "a disgrace"
Cancellations, Changes and Crass Christmas
Rail user groups do NOT represent rail users?
Staffing-go-round - but the campaigners carry on
30 late, and a bus not a train ....
Campaigning Mantra - Philosophy behind the case
Commutes are longer, and in the west we may know why
Comparing a Wiltshire town with a Norfolk one
And the week ends with two more cancellations!
Does the new man want to play hard?
A First to Stagecoach comparison
Comment on December timetables
Front page update
Frustrated but not depairing
FSB - North and West Wilts Commitee - Federation of Small Businesses
How to fill platforms, and railway company coffers too!
The Ghost Train, Purton
A Comparison - travel in the USA by train
Weymouth, Poor Provisional, and Sunday
Radio - tomorrow morning?
We have another hill to climb
New faces - mayors and chairs.
Diary notes
News Roundup - a LOT is happening
Update being updated!
A roundup from a MELKSHAM perspective
The way forward - improved service and improved station
An update
Gordon Dodge, Rest in Peace
Helsinki and Heathrow to Melksham - Saturday
Asking for the political and part views
Government pressure to shut up. But let us look forward.
Petition Response - detail, opinion, context
Reply to Petition
What is happening?
Report - Monday night's meeting - press brief
The traveller, not the train!
A fast-moving story?
Passengers or Customers?
Invite letter - 5th March 2007 meeting
End game?
Keeping the diary rolling
Key players
PLEASE LOBBY - First, Dft, County Council, your MP
Welcome to 2007
Christmas, 2006
"Told you so"
New service - first impressions
They're gone ... but ...
Last Week - Press Release
Coming to a course in Melksham
Fading away?
2 weeks to go
Current and future summary
End of term - don't care
Returning from their UK course
Is this fare?
Behind the new timetable
Passenger or lemmings
More cancellations
Taunton meeting
From Ystrad Mynach
Consultant's reports recommended a modest INCREASE
A difficult choice for voters
20% service cut = 40% traffic cut?
If its working well, change it so it doesnt.
Is this train used?
Bus connections to Melksham from Chippenham
A year on - an empty bank holiday
One year on
Has our publicity reached the right people?
Flowers for Melksham. Flowers at Melksham.
A desire for honesty
Open Access case strengthened
Press Release - Open Access operator negotiations
In praise of estate agents
Bad news coming?
Pivotal decison - to grow or to strangle?
Rail future - the First Alternative
Friday, 7th July - Melksham
Visit by Chris Grayling and Michael Ancram
Welcome for Michael Ancram and Chris Grayling
Important but not refreshing meeting
Letter from Derek Twigg
Selling off any possibility of improvement
Internet connection issues
How to catch the 18:48 from Chippenham - the DfT suggests
Political pressure - press release
... is part of a planned war
Our battle ....
Lies, damned lies and statistics
Put yourself in their shoes
Home soon.
Carrying fresh air around?
Bus service costs 25 pounds per passenger to run?
Every so often, stop and look
It gets worse
Friday meeting - invite and details
First way to get rid of customers?
RailFuture meeting - some gems
RailFuture meeting today
Diary Date - 12th May
First back down or buses too.
Parliamentary Debate, 25th April
Meeting, 21st - notes
What SWPTUF says
Friday's meeting
Meeting, tonight
Celebrating a closure
Meeting, Friday 21st
Friday, 21st, Trowbridge
Southampton to Westbury RESTORED
Constituency Changes
First - transforming travel
An update - BAD, BAD news for Melksham ...
UPDATE - new timetables
High emotion
Someone can't wait!
Real time train monitoring
The Waiting Game
Service failure looses more customers
Not just the TransWilts and Melksham ...
On supporting other campaigns ...
New pages and information
Ploughing back OUR money, not theirs.
A whole pile of responses
Meetings and Consultation Responses
INPUTS NEEDED by 8th March
Safer current trains - the 06:56, 07:45 and 18:09
Roger Jones answers 5 months later!
A week is a long time
Three and a half answers out of 4
Draft timetables (continued)
Background and opinion
On the 05:52 this morning
Out with the old users, in with the new
Draft Timetable is here
Today or tomorrow
Meeting with a local MP
Waiting, with baited breath
Timetable consultation coming up
From my postbag ...
Recent Correspondence
Keep watching - coming to the boil!
Further threats
Current status ...
Were they purchasing votes?
Repeat - PLEASE write in with your aspirations
First want to hear your aspirations
Winners and losers in the Devizes constituency
Railway statistics and Melksham comparisons - how do we stand?
What does First pay the government for Greater Western?
Wilts County Council could save the Melksham / Transwilts train
Reply from MD of First Great Western
The Meeting Season
New Sign
Bustitution - buses for trains on Saturdays and Sundays
New year, 2006
Christmas service - unrequired, or just unprovided?
A comparison across the world
Even new stations don't always survive
No final decision yet
New fares from 2nd January 2006
Every journey has a story
Upside Down
Melksham rail traffic up 33% in 3 months
Should badgers be culled?
Virtually no service - or excellent service. Request the latter.
First specific Melksham rumour ...
First Group - First answer on Melksham
Greater Western Franchise awarded
Train service fading away too?
Santa Claus at Melksham Station
A Quandry
From the rumour mill
Melksham and TransWilts train service - closure by stealth?
At Temple Meads today
Latest official answer
Driving customers away?
Don't drink and drive - drink and train.
Keeping the campaign tail up
STILL worth writing. To MP, To Dft, to bidders.
A bustle before the 17:02
Plus a footnote - Melksham to London
Timetable - Melksham to Reading and London
What does it cost to run a train?
A THOUSAND visitors
Forum Archives available
Busy train at Melksham
Monday morning, Melksham Station
Some scenes at Melksham Station
A disappointing letter
The storm's eye?
Warminster Bus Running Day, 2005
The system is overcomplex - no wonder some odd things happen
A case of the tail wagging the dog??
Kiss and Ride report
Ready for Tuesday
Bump from Glasgow
New stats prove it - the service IS used
Tracking codes for TransWilts stations
Try the train on 18th October
And more train users ...
Six NEW factors why the TransWilts train that serves Melksham should be enhanced and not cut
Tuesday, 18th October - Kiss and Ride day
Quotes from Government
Would this government close a station completely?
An easy timetable - Melksham to Chippenham and Swindon
Didn't you read page 52 of web document?
Core meeting
Regularity, Reliability, Realistic connections
Swindon to Trowbridge
35% Growth in one year - Melksham ticket statistics
Great meeting but just a start.
Old pictures. Not to be repeated event
Don't believe everything you hear
Official (Government) view ... and I agree
Encouraging traffic not just warm words
Meeting, 20th September - getting nervous
Don't let this become history!
Looking slightly wider
The story so far
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