|Report - Monday night's meeting - press brief
A packed special meeting in Melksham on Monday night, called by the "Save the Train" Campaign, learnt that there's now a realistic change of the return of an approprriate train service from Swindon to and through West Wiltshire (Melksham, Trowbridge, Westbury, Warminster) and on to Salisbury, Frome, Somerset and Dorset.
All the major player are now talking "Turkey" - the First Group, who operate nearly all the train services in this area, and the Department for Transport, acknowledge that there is a strong case for the service. The 1700 signature petitoin recently completed, the packed meeting in Melksham, and continued inputs to all parties and representatives show that there is a public demand too.
The meeting resolved to continue to press for the return of a regular service connecting the largest 5 population centes of Wiltshire, and Frome in Somerset, from December 2007.
A successful meeting. Resolved:
1. A "Save the train" action committee was formed with representatives from along the route of the service to campaign further for the return of an appropriate train service. Our target date is December, to take over the train that is scheduled to be WITHDRAWN from the Westbury to Southampton service with the potential loss of many services at Warminster and Dilton Marsh.
2. County, District, rail partnership, Train operator and other bodies to meet in a group to co-ordinate their actions with a view to getting the appropriate service running again.
3. A major lobby to be held on March 20th at West Wilts District Council's executive meeting (19:00, Bradley Road council chamber, Trowbridge). All welcome. Please see http://www.savethetrain.org.uk for details or call 01225 708225.
Editorial Note -
Passenger usage of the Swindon to Westbury, Salisbuy and Southampton train service grew between 8% and 35% per annum in the five years to 2006, but last December's timetable changes withdrew all but two trains (06:19 and 18:42 off Swindon) off part of the route.
This new service level is inappropriate for the route and is causing real hardship - commuters from Frome and Trowbridge into Swindon have their day extended by 90 minutes, to travel from Swidon to Salisbury by train ican now take over 2 hours with an awkward change and long wait in Bath, and Melksham (population 24,000 and growing) has no trains at all between 07:17 and 19:08. The new service level was specified in a single line in an 80 page document produced by the Strategic Rail Authority in Spring 2005, relating to all rail services West of London which based future service provision on a 0.8% growth forecast.
In order for an appropriate service to return, the local transport authority (Wiltshire County Council) needs to work with the Department for Transport and a Train Operator (First Great Western). We congratulate the Friends of Bristol Suburban Railways for their recent completion of such an agreement which will bring services back to the Severn Beach line, and we note smilar success in Dorset, Devon and Cornwall.
Save the Train
Graham Ellis - Chair
404, The Spa, Melksham, SN12 6QL
Written 2007-03-07 09:56:12
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