Save the Melksham Train
Helsinki and Heathrow to Melksham - Saturday

I had, mentally, ruled out Saturday for anything more that a day of travelling from Helsinki to Melksham; a good job too as I could - all too easily - have been frustrated many times along the way.

The day started well - indeed the Finnish leg was enjoyable, with a chance to see Helsinki (pictures) sandwiched between a trouble-free Metro ride in from the suburb where we had spend the week, and a comfortable bus ride - no wait, no queue, out to the airport. There's even a left luggage facility as the station that isn't so tied up with security that you wonder why you had bothered for a few hours. And Finnair checked us in excellently, easily through and onto the flight. We were glad not to be on the BA flight that was scheduled out earlier - 07:45 - as it didn't leave until 13:15.

Heathrow, Terminal one, Baggage - what a zoo! We waited over an hour for our luggage, with (at times) up to 10 other flights also on "wait". I think our flight was especially bad - we were told that baggage couldn't be got off due to a technical problem, but still the business class travellers got theirs in about half the time. Odd, that ;-)



Heathrow to Melksham by public transport isn't great - coach to Chippenham and bus on home is about the best when you're flying in and can't rely on timing. If you're really delayed, you might just get the 18:45 direct bus in the evening.

A Spring Saturday, a week after Easter with crowds returning from Holidays, so how was the ticket desk staffed?

Yes, you're right - queue control barriers and too few staff to handle the crowds, who clearly WERE expected.

The Bath bus, good on the operator, HAD been doubled up, with a second coach layed on and the two drivers sorting Swindon passengers on to one and passengers for other destinations onto the second bus. Loading, though, was less than efficient with the driver of our (non-Swindon) bus taking each individual he checked in arouns the back of the bus, one by one, to load their luggage, and the coach left some 15 to 20 minutes late. An extra stop at Membury services (I don't know why - I've never had it happen before) added a few minutes and, to my suprise, the bus still went through Swindon even though all the passengers had been sorted ahead of time. A straight "drive through" of course, even down to driving straight in to one end of the bus station and out of the other - but what a wasted opportunity to sensibly make up some time.

Chippenham, and we spotted the 234 heading on its loop up to the station as we drove into the town. "Oh - excellent - he'll be back past the bus stop in a couple of minutes". We unloaded our case, thanked our driver, and hailed the 234 as he returned ... and STRAIGHT PAST he drove.

Now - I know the evening 234 service is subsidised by Wiltshire County Council, and I do know that the operator puts profit before passengers ... but you would have thought that the driver would have stopped (at the bus stop!), wouldn't you? Well - he didn't. The bus appeared to be empty and perhaps he couldn't be bothered.

We caught a taxi from the rank just a few yards away; by this point, I was less than inclined to wait a further 90 minutes or so for a bus that *might* stop next time, and we had an absurdly un-green and inefficient journey in a taxi that passed the bus we should have been on as he turned into Lacock.

So why wasn't the transport system able to transfer us from one service to the other neatly in Chippenham? Lack of joined up thinking between operators? No - that's not the case. Our National Express Coach was operated, I kid you not, by the First group. And the 234 bus was also operated by First. I suspect from exactly the same depot. Ah - "Shareholders First" - of course ...

Written 2007-04-15 09:43:16

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
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?
IMPROVED PUBLIC TRANSPORT LINKS ACROSS WILTSHIRE?
Invite letter - 5th March 2007 meeting
Save the Train v More Train, Less Strain
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 ...
Fizzle
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
Waverley
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
Update
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.
Meeting!
Old pictures. Not to be repeated event
Don't believe everything you hear
Excursion!
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
Welcome to News and Views
Welcome to News and Views

This site is hosted by Well House Consultants Ltd. (http://www.wellho.net)
Contact Information
 

Further Information:
 Home
 Current Summary
 Daily update
 User forum
 Consultation
 Service now
 Service future
 Future Analysis
 Recent Statistics
 Recent letters
 Letter to DfT
 Save the train
 Presentation
 Support us
 Other Maps
 Station facilities
 Station approach
 Pictures
 Trains diverted
 History
 About Melksham
 Site Map
 About this site