Save the Melksham Train
30 late, and a bus not a train ....

13:03, Paddington to Bristol

Train Manager accepts our FirstMinute tickets politely. Then tells next people who want to buy weekend first that he won't charge them as he's not sure whether or not the train is going to be calling at Bath. It seems that he was given a verbal message as we left Paddington and it may (or may not) be confirmed at Reading. And he'll let them know straight away.

Knowing a little about the routes and having some concern, I walk up and ask him about Chippenham and apparently the train may not actually be calling at Chippenham either ...

As he goes on down the coach, he doesn't charge some more folks for weekend first - "I'm supposed to, but I never charge children", and then tells the following set of people - also for Bath - of the anticipated problem. "Overrunning engineering works" he says, assuring them the they probably won't have to catch a bus as it'll just be a question of thinning trains out so it'll only mean a wait fo r the next train.

Speaking to the train manager (who had made an announcment saying that tickets marked 'LEI' can ONLY be used on the designated train and not any other servie) in the buffet, he tells me it's likely to be a bus. He assures me that, in contrast to his initial announcement, they WILL be flexible and accept our "this train ONLY" tickets on the bus. "Once the train company starts messing you around, it becomes more flexible ..." He's going to suggest to Bath passengers they stay on to Bristol and get the local train back, and us Chippenham folks will - after all - have a bus onwards.

"Ahead of schedule, so probably awaiting a platform" at 13:36.

13:45 - announcement from train manager. The train is being diverted after Swindon due to an overrun of engineering works and will not call at Chippenham or Bath Spa. Passengers for Bath have a choice - they may stay on the train which arrived in Bristol at 3 O'clock and get the 10 past 3 back to Bath, or transfer to a road coach at Swindon. Passengers for Chippenham have no choice - you have to change on to the road coach at Swindon. ("Sorry about this - I don't like road coach travel myself ....").

14:15 arrival into Swindon. Of course the barrier wouldn't take our gate pass, nor that of many others who were unexpectedly decanting there, and there were a couple of FGW staff running back and forth like blue arsed flies checking tickets and trying to get all the people who the gates were rejecting through and sorted out. ((Is it just me, or do others feel a sort of finger being pointed at them when the automatic gate refuses to let them through, even though they're travelling on a valid ticket?))

Bus left a few minutes later (no long wait - well done FGW) and we were in Chippenham a minute of two after 3 - only 30 minutes late.

Written 2007-11-04 18:15:37

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