July 2008 - Melksham Party in Park - "Save the Train"
* "Save the Train" has been campaigning for an appropriate train service from Swindon to Salisbury, serving Chippenham, Melksham, Trowbridge, Westbury, Dilton Marsh and Warminster.
* Swindon, Salisbury, Trowbridge, Chippenham and Melksham are the five largest urban areas in Wiltshire, but there are currently just TWO trains a day each way on the line, leaving Swindon at 06:15 and 18:45, and Salisbury at about the same time, and passing at Westbury.
* Until December 2006, there were five trains each way - cpread through the day, and with an annual growth rate of 35% compound. However, services were cut at the request of the Department for Transport who used a 0.8% growth forecast on 2002 usage figures.
Latest news from First Great Western (8th July):
"We had hoped that we could organise an additional service through Wiltshire serving Melksham in particular. We looked very carefully at all the options, but whilst the plan received good support, and remains something we want to do, the cost of the new service is considerable. It will not be covered by the revenue that the service will generate, and as a commercial organisation we can only therefore proceed if we can find some joint funding to offset the costs. Despite our efforts this has to not proved possible to date, and we will not be able to offer any extra services in the next timetable due out in December.
"We will continue to discuss the plans with stakeholders and will keep looking for a partner to help finance the service, but this will not be possible before the December 2009 timetable (at the earliest)."
* 500 people, 95% of them from Wiltshire and the surrcounding counties, signed a pledge os support for the return of an appropriate service over the last 3 months. This includes over 80 elected representatives, including those from all of the major parties.
* The A350 road - the alternative to the train - is overcrowded, and journey times are much slower. It takes 50 minutes (car) or 95 minutes (bus) Melksham to Swindon, but just 25 minutes by train
* The train is more environmentally friendly
* With growth continuing at 35%, the line / service would break even in 3 to 4 years according to our figures.
* The County Council, who do not provide any financial support for rail services as a matter of principle (they are nearly unique in this attitude), have designated the service as one of strategic importance in the local travel plan and evaluated an appropriate service as being as frequent as hourly. At the same time, they pour ever more money into bus subsidies, and they have have just placed a 12 million pound contract for new IT systems in association with going unitary that would have provided the service for 35 years.
Save the Train
12th July 2008