Save the Melksham Train
A roundup from a MELKSHAM perspective

A "What's happening" list I've prepared as notes for the Annual General Meeting of the Melksham Rail Development Group that I'll be attending tonight. These are my personal notes - content is just my view in places and I believe it to be correct but ((legal disclaimer, E & O E, will update as and when I get a chance))

Key points for MRDG / AGM

This is "MRDG" - i.e. Melksham - rather than "Save the Train" - i.e. whole service biased and is in the form of personal notes. But it goes provide a good background to all the stuff that's happening at the moment!

• Web Site

With Peter and John's go ahead, we have registered the web site and put a holding page there. Lisa would like to volunteer to set up and maintain the whole site.

• Lottery for Road

We have submitted a lottery bid for "The People's Millions" to the big lottery fund. This is a TV show for awards of up to 80k for projects, where we get a platform for the cause and a change of getting funding (and that can be complete funding). Signed off by Peter and John, independent referee is Chris Irwin of Travel Watch South West and many other hats.

Our bid is for 47k; I have roadwork ball park quotes for about half that amount but have not started any local publicity prior to the AGM.

• Gordon Special

We were all shocked to hear of the passing of Gordon Dodge, the vice chairman of the group, in April after a short illness. Gordon was the powerhouse behind MRDG and a lovely, lovely man with an infectious enthusiasm. He leaves a huge hole and is sadly missed.

I have approached FGW about running a seaside special this summer as a tribute to Gordon, but they have come back with a "no specials AT ALL this summer" - not even extending the Sunday morning Westbury to Weymouth to start from Melksham.

Alternative suggestion (and good publicity!) ... BUS to Westbury on a Sunday morning, then train trip round. Change at Westbury on the way back into one of the two Sunday trains.

• Santa Special

I have been advised that we should run this BEFORE the December timetable change. As the current timings (before December) make it near impossible, I wonder as I write this how much worse the next timetable will be. However, teh next item may supreceed that.

• Andrew Report

I understand there may be some news from Andrew Griffiths of FGW, but I have been told not to expect too much.

• 3 x DfT at County and working group

A working group has been set up (experts, officials, finance, etc) chaired by WCC as a result of the Save The Train meeting in March. Rather slow starting and as I'm not in any of the categories I'm not a member ...

DfT officials have visited the county for discussions on the "TransWilts" service - David Philips is probable better placed to commet than I as he was at the meeting.


West Wilts Rail User Group is now looking for someone to represent Melksham on their committee - half a dozen meetings a year to keep them up with the Melksham perspective. John Ingram and Janet Repton are the contacts.

• Freight Grants

Tom Harris (Minister for Transport) has just announced 44 million in grants for freight service enhancement for environmental reasons, including services through Melksham. He has FAILED to announce any support or the passenger services, where First are looking for a 300k per Annum and that would give major environmental and convenience and economic gains.

• South of Salisbury consults

12 week consultantion to start after this coming Friday on CHANGES to the FGW SLC, with a view to reducing what they're committed to do south of Salisbury. Thsi worries me as Andrew Griffiths assured me that the SLC was for 10 years and so he didn't anticipate that Melksham and the TransWilts could loose any more services.

I also note that Dilton Marsh may loose half its service as from December.

Questions / thoughts. (a) Extend SWT hourly Southampton - Salisbury service to Swindon; deal with all the issues along the way and work around the FGW stock level problems. (b) use the consultation to emphasise the whole corridor not just Mottifont and Dean.

NOTE email response from Alison Forster just received. The consultation may not happen as the timetables as "fixed anyway" now.

• Transport hub @ TIC

The Tourist Information Centre is bidding for lottery funds to become a transport hub, allowing them to sell products that include train tickets.

• Asda

Asda are planning to build a supermarket (250 parking spaces, 28000 square feet, up to 300 jobs) at West Country Farmers.

Co-operation / Transport Hub?

• Fares lowered and usage report

Fares from Melksham to Chippenham / Swidnon lowered - e.g. Chippenham to Melksham now 2.80 single. Said to be to encourage traffic.

The few remaining trains are quiet. I travelled on the train that arrived in Melksham at 21:38 last Saturday. Just 2 people on the train from Chippenham including myself and both got off at Melksham.

It is my view that the timing is inappropriate and it's the timing and not the pricing that needs to be fixes, but I would welcome First's explanation otherwise. My view is that fares could have risen by 25% to increas farebox take and help the economics of the line and the case for a decent service.

• County grant to buses

The County Council has given a further grant (to Stagecoach) for the bus service from Trowbridge to Swindon. The service has the same passenger count in broad terms as the train did last year, but takes 95 minutes rathe than 35 minutes. It was explained to me that the grant was given to the buses because "they server intermediate journeys too". Not a good excuse - the trains ALSO serve intermediate points (indeed, they serve Melksham which the bus does NOT).

There is a good case for the bus subsidy. But there is a BETTER case for subsidising the train, so there action on the buses should make their financial support for the trains into a no-brainer.

• Letter from Keith Robinson

I have received (this morning) a letter from Keith Robinson, chief executive of Wilts CC. Copies available at meeting.

Dr Robinson is pointing at First (who, let me remiond you point at the DfT, who point back at the country council). He does, however, confirm that the county does NOT have a closed mind about subsidising trains.

• Letters from FGW

a) A report on the first year of the franchise , talking / promising more improvements for the future and glossing over (IMHO) the problems. Nothing specific for Melksham SERVICES or TransWilts Services, though we are promised a refit of the trains.

b) A "Glenda" - letter from Glenda Lamont to all interested parties - after the recent damning customer satisfaction survey across all railway companies. It explains that FGW was in the throws of settling downafter the timetable change and had some teething troubles when the survey was done, and explains hwo they're putitng thinsg right. Once again, though, NOTHING on service improvements for the TransWilts.

I spoke with Glenda Lamont in person in March at the meeting called by West Wilts District Council on the train subject, and she promised to get back with me shortly on what would be happening from December. She HAS got back with me several times, to say teh information is not yet available. Still awaited.

• Party in the Park

Chance for last minute table? Melksham Carnival, 14th July

Written 2007-06-08 15:22:38

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!
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
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 ...
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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