Save the Melksham Train
This is an archived page.
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

West Wilts Corridor - What now?

My check list:

1. Write to my MP

2. Write to my Wiltshire County Councillor

3. Write to (select someone else from my list at the end of this page)

* As from 10th December 2006, the current service of 5 trains per day will be cut to 2 trains per day. They will leave Melksham at 07:17 and 19:50 for Swindon, and return at 06:46 and 19:08. Two Saturday trains will run each way, and two Sunday trains to Swindon with no return service.

* The new timings make for a significanly longer day for commuters to Swindon, and they do NOT meet the "SLC2" specification laid down by the DfT for a minimum service level, which states that one train must reach Swindon between 08:00 and 08:30.

Full (!) details at

* As from 17th September 2006, the first three bus services on route 234 from Trowbridge via Melksham to Chippenham will make additional calls at Chippenham station. These buses leave Melksham at 07:22, 08:05 (08:12 on Saturdays and during school holidays) and 09:24. Return services leave Chippenham Station at 15:15, 16:35, 17:35, 18:24, 19:24, 20:44 and 22:10

Further information at

* As from December, passengers wishing to travel long distance to Melksham in the morning / leave Melksham long distance in the evening will have to travel by bus to Chippenham and go via bus station / railway station - an awkward transfer that adds up to one hour to the journey time and is not easy if you have luggage, children with pushchairs or a mobility problem.

* With the removal of all daytime trains from Melksham, there will no longer be any low cost "book on the day" fares available to London. First tell me that they are reviewing the fares specifically for Melksham with a view to providing us at least with 'something', and also no doubt to help them keep traffic on the line. They have also made positive noises about keeping the station open and generating as much business as possible throughout the life of the franschise.

* The train service cuts are being made in spite of phenomental growth of passenger journeys on the line, and to and from Melksham. The cuts were instigated by the Department for Transport and are being made on their behalf by the First Group who now run the service.

* In November 2005, just before the franchise was formally awarded, the First group provided the Department for Transport with a quote of 300,000 pounds per annum to continue with the curent service, but this was rejected as too expensive.

* The First group publicly quote a figure of 1 million pounds per annum to run the service, though when pressed for detail lowered that to 900k.

* A growth assumption of 1.7% per annum has been made by the Department for Transport in evaluating the future of this route, even though the growth shown in ticket sales has been 35% compound for 5 years. Taking other statistics and indicators, the LOWEST growth figure I can come up with is compound 6% for the Westbury to Swindon service. The 1.7% is ONLY applicable to service growth if you look at train services in Wiltshire as a whole.

* There is a significant case for IMPROVING the train service so that it runs once every 2 hours - from Westbury every 2 hours from 05:45 to 11:45, and from 14:45 to 20:45, returning from Swindon an hour later in every case. This is actually a better economic / financial / social case (all three) than maintaining the status quo.

* I have put forward the best case for the provision of an appropriate Swindon - Melksham - Westbury - Salisbury - Southampton train service over the past year, and learnt a very great deal. In my view, the most appropriate service is a train along the entire route every 2 hours. Good alternatives include extending the service from Swindon to Oxford, and running it from Swindon to Salisbury from where it would continue as the current Salisbury to London service which calls at all stations to Basingstoke then express to London. However, with new timetables due to come into effect in just 3 months time, for the period from December 2006 to December 2007 the practical solution is to run a Swindon - Westbury shuttle.

-> -> ->

* Too late? NO! The Liskeard - Looe line was saved from complete closure just 2 weeks before the last train was due to run. IT CAN BE DONE.

* Do we have support? YES - in a year, we had 10,000 different visitors to our web site, and hundreds of different expressions of support. And in all that time I have only seen a negative response from 3 places - First, the Department from Transport, and some guy in Frome who requested that the train be removed from the Swindon to Westbury service to provide extra services to and from Frome.

* Our campaign has been supported by polititians from all major parties, including Conservative, Labour and Liberal Democrat MPs, and party transport spokesmen for the Conservarives and Liberal Democrats. Regional, County, District and town / parish support has also been provided.

* There has also been a great deal of support from various experts such as transport planners and political specialist, from agenda groups, and from unions and staff on the railways.

* What can YOU do now?

1. Please lobby your MP. Refer him to the case above.
  Anne Snelgrove - Swindon
  James Gray - Chippenham
  Michael Ancram - Melksham
  Andrew Murrison - Trowbridge to Warminster
  Robert Key - Salisbury

2. Continue to press your county council and other senior politicians. In response to a Freedom of Information request for copies of all correspondence concerning the Great Western Franchise between Wilts CC and the DfT, I was shocked to get just THREE documents covering the period from January 2005 to date - one consultation response and one letter from the county council, and one reply from the DfT. This hardly looks like much activity on behalf of the voters and tax payers of Wiltshire.

3., 4., Show that we continue to press the case - keepin touch with Alison Forster, Lesley Coleman and Andrew Griffiths at First, Roger Jones, Peter West, David Hibbs, Derek Twigg and Douglas Alexander at the Department for Transport.

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