Save the Melksham Train
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Please see [here] if you're looking for the current "Save the Train" home page.
Please see [here] for the TransWilts site.
Friday, 26th March 2010. Launch of TransWilts Community Rail Partnership. Bridge House, Trowbridge, from 19:30
An exciting new step forward to rejeuvenation of the line, its service and its use
BUSY, EXCELLENT MEETING ... see [here] for initial report
Train service remains dire - southbound from Swindon at 06:15 and 18:45, northbound from Westbury at 07:02 and 19:35. Please pledge your support if you would like to see an increase to six trains a day -
arriving Swindon at 07:48 08:53 11:50 14:50 17:36 and 20:19,
returning at 06:18 09:02 12:02 15:02 17:55 and 18:45.

Keynote for 2010

Forum archive ... Blog archive

Picture - passengers wait for the Swindon train at Melksham

Great Western Franchise

Effect on services in the DEVIZES consituency:

Bedwyn - halved daytime service
Melksham - most services WITHDRAWN
Pewsey - expresses replace by locals


* Consultation by SRA, Easter, 2005.

* SRA ceased to exist midsummer and many staff and the franchise award was taken over by the Department for Transport

* Bids from First, National Express and Stagecoach in September

* Contract awarded to First group in December 2005, who will pay the government 1 billion pounds. That's the equivalent of a 2 pound tax for each passenger arriving at Paddington throughout the contract.

* First are heavily constrained as a contractor to run the services "bought" by the Department for Transport and can only make substantive changes with approval.

* First put out the draft weekday timetable (to run from December 2006) and invited comment by 8th March. They tell me they had received 3000 responses by 6th, when I met their Julian Crow.

* The responses are now being worked on, and the weekday timetable should be set by 27th April. Between now and then, there will be discussions between First, the DfT and other interested parties.

* Political pressure on the DtT, the Government offices for the South West, and Wilts County Council may be helpful. Use your MP, your councillors (especially any LABOUR ones you have!) to help exert this pressure.

* Copy the First group but remember to work WITH them - they'll be running the service and they don't have as much authority / room to change things as they've had in the past. I have indications that privately they're unhappy with the service level they've got to provide and even if that's NOT the case it does no harm to work with them as it it was.

DETAIL for stations in the Devizes consituency.


The current service that runs from London and Reading to Bedwyn will be extended to Westbury. Rush hour trains are subject to some adjustment. During the day, only ALTERNATE trains are to call at Bedwyn reducing the service from hourly to every 2 hours.

If traffic levels remain the same, the reduced service means that the number of passengers leaving / joining each Reading / London train will rise from an average of 13 to 18

Bedwyn is a highly successful railhead for Marlborough, and there is severe concern that traffic levels would drop dramatically with the reduced service. You have only to compare Melksham (with an infrequent train service) with Bradford on Avon (currently with a good service) to see that the train frequency dramatically effects travel habits.

A new service to Westbury will be available from Bedwyn; I am unsure what market / demand there is for this and suspect it's simply a side effect of the new timetable.

ADDITIONAL LONDON SERVICES would be possible under the new timetable, by stopping the alternate trains that are scheduled to run non-stop from Hungerford to Pewsey. The cost to First would be "insignificant", and the extra stop would add a further 3 to 5 minutes onto the scheduled times from Pewsey to Reading and London. It would also break First's desire for a regular interval service Westbury - Newbury - Reading - London unless all the extra trains stopped at Pewsey too.


The current express service (from London in 64 minutes, 9 trains per day) will be replaced by an extended "Link" service using outer suburban stock. Service will increase to 12 per day, with a 75 minute journey time.

Through services to stations beyond Westbury will become the exception rather than the norm, and the outer suburban stock will offer a lower level of comfort and no buffet facilities.

If traffic levels remain the same, the number of passengers leaving / joining each train will drop from 21 to 16.


The Swindon to Southampton service that calls at Melksham 10 times per day is discontinued, and replaced by local trains to Swindon at 07:37 and 19:28, and to Westbury at 06:46 and 18:38. No other trains will call at Melksham.

Ticket sales for journeys to and from Melksham have risen from 3000 in 2000/01 to 27,500 in 2004/05. That represents 10 passengers leaving or joining each train on the current service, and were the service to be retained the usage would continue to grow.

Under the new regime, only the 07:37 to Swindon and 18:38 arrival would carry any significant traffic; the other two services will be virtually empty stock workings. Even the 07:37 and 18:38 would be much less busy than the current train that runs at "commuter time" as the schedules make for a very long day in Swindon - already a complaint on the current services which give 45 minutes less in Swindon.

Around a half of the current passengers on this line are travelling a long distance and the cutting of the service short at Westbury and its decimation will loose almost all of that traffic.

The commercial / economic effect on Melksham (on businesses like the one that I work for) will be severe - we have customers arriving by train on a regular basis from all over the UK. Journeys such as Chippenham to Salisbury (60 minutes by train, over 100 minutes by bus) would become much harder by public transport and the West Wilts road network (A350 / A36) would get yet busier.

I have calculated (ticket sales, observation of train loading) that around 100,000 journeys per year are made on this service as it passes through Melksham and I estimate that most of this traffic would be lost - and great inconvenience caused - if the service cuts went through as proposed.

ADDITIONAL SERVICES would be possible, financially viable on their own, and of great social and economic benefit by retaining a single train for use on the line, to provide a service every 2 hours between Westbury and Swindon. See my study of 12th January.

Want to ask our MP to help us campaign against these detrimental changes? He is ...

Michael Ancram QC, MP,
Devizes Constituency Conservative Association
116 High Street
Wiltshire SN8 1LZ

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