Save the Melksham Train
Invite letter - 5th March 2007 meeting

We're holding what could turn out to be a turning point meeting on 5th March, at 19:30. Here's the invite letter and YOU, dear reader, are invited as an interested party. Please let me know (I need to have a rough idea of numbers)

Dear [name],

I am writing to invite you to attend a meeting on the evening of Monday, 5th March to focus community support onto the "TransWilts" railway line that links Swindon, via Chippenham, Melksham and Trowbridge to Westbury, Dilton Marsh, Warminster and Salisbury. Formal invites are going out to many organiations involved, but additionally I'm inviting current, past,and potential future users and other interested parties too - this meeting and stong support COULD MAKE A REAL DIFFERENCE.

The use of train service linking these towns - including the five largest towns in Wiltshire - grew dramatically up to last December; growth rates of between 8% and 35% per annum are quoted for the five years up to that point, and a service that was very quiet five years ago had become pretty busy by last autumn. But the service was cut back in December to just two trains a day, running at times that are inappropriate for the main traffic flows. The reasons given are poor economic value, but arguments from various parties to the decision were based on older (so lower) usage figures, and consultant's reports that assumed a growth rate of just 0.8% per annum.

I have various indications that the service provision is now being reconsidered much more throughly and constructively, with what I believe to be a better chance than at any point previously of us securing an appropriate service to meet customer needs. But we're still not out of the woods - we need a community push to ensure that the optimism isn't stillborn, and that a service - when provided - is well advertised and supported by the community. With the Regional Spatial Strategy proposing a high growth rate all the way from Swindon to West Wiltshire, increasing conjestion on the A350 and other roads in the area, and strong traffic flows between the towns in the county, a two hourly service starting later this year makes sense.

The meeting will start at 19:30 (arrive earlier for coffee) at Well House Manor, 48 Spa Road, Melksham SN12 7NY on Monday, 5th March. If you are unable to attend personally, please nominate an appropriate council member or officer to attend in your place. You are also welcome to pass this on to other parties and invitethem to attend on a less formal basis.

So that I can plan the meeting, I WOULD like some idea of numbers - it would be much appreciatiated if you can RSVP.

I look forward to seeing you at the start of next month


Graham Ellis
"Save the Train" -
Campaigning for the return and retention of an appropriate TransWilts service
404, The Spa, Melksham, SN12 6QL
01225 708225


"Save the Train" - TransWilts Train service between the major
population centres of Wiltshire.

5th March 2007, at Well House Manor, 48 Spa Road, Melksham SN12 7NY.
19:00 (tea and coffee) for 19:30. We will meet attendees off the 19:08 train at Melksham, and ensure that everyone gets home afterwards.

Draft Agenda:

1. Welcome

2. Where are we now?

3. How can we get an appropriate service returned?
(If we get good news later this month, we may be able to skip)

4. Community support to build, sell and retain the new service.
What do we need to do?

5. Action plan - who, how, mechanisms.

6. Conclusion

It is anticipated that the meeting will close at around 21:30.


This is a special meeting organised by "Save the Train". We have been campaiging for an appropriate train service for West Wiltshire to Swindon, and from Swindon and Chippenham to Trowbridge, Warminster and Salisbury, for 18 months.

A petition to the Prime Minister, which has just closed, drew nearly 1700 signatures including 8 Members of Parliament, 5 MEPs and many councillors, and became the top domestic public transport petition on the PM's web site (8th out of over 400 on transportation and infrasturcture). That's very respectable for a locally based petiton with no formal organisation that ran for just three weeks.

The petition and the wider campaign has received good press exposure - a half page in the Sunday Express, a shorter piece in the Daily Telegraph, and an article in the Metro which actually reprinted the current minimalist timetable. An item on HTV West showed just how poor by comparison the bus alternative is from Melksham to Swindon, with me taking well over an hour to make a journey that would have taken less than 30 minutes by train, and pieces on "You and Yours" and "Westminster Hour" on Radio 4 should be noted. And those appearances are in addition to enormous local support from newspapers and radio stations in the area.

At Westminster, Ann Snelgrove, James Gray, Michael Ancram and Andrew Murrison - that's all the MPs for the Swindon - Westbury section - stood up and spoke in favour of an appropriate service during a debate, and Robert Key and Sandra Gidley, MPs for the extension to Salisbury and on to Romsey, have also signed up.

We have received overwhelming encouragement from other organisations at a local and regional level, and we now hear reports of much more serious discussions involving the Department for Transport and the First Group amongst others. Communications from both organisations within the last few days indicate a door that is pushed far more open to our proposals that at any time previously, with serious attention being given to both the financing and the timetabling of the new service. And these are THE two key players.


Who are "Save the Train"?

An Internet / Web Site based group who use (or used) the TransWilts train service, or would use it if appropriate services were provided. Formed in August 2005 by Graham Ellis as a result of seeing the threat to the service that he used in a letter in the local Newspaper, the web site and campaign has grown from strength to strength.

Main site:
We also run:

Graham's own site:
Business site (training courses):
Business site (hotel):

We work well with other local groups such as the West Wilts Rail User group and the Melksham Rail Developemnt Group, and we are members of TravelWatch South West (formerly SWPTUF) and Railfocus. And although we're very much an active and campaigning group, our whole philosophy is to work with the service providers for the benefit of both passengers and operators.

Graham Ellis
Well House Consultants, 404 The Spa, Melksham, Wilts
+44 (0) 1225 708225 (phone) +44 (0) 1225 707126 (fax)

Written 2007-02-12 06:17:06

Available entries ...

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