Save the Melksham Train
Archived Save the Train forum articles - 2005 to 2010. See below
New Image -> New Images - 8081/13090
Written by admin (Graham Ellis) on Wednesday, 3rd March 2010

Times change ... and we're moving forward with the case for an appropriate service now being much more accepted and appreciated. So it's a good time to replace some of the older pictures at the top of the main site with some newer one.

I learned yesterday that Melksham Station was one of the very first to be rebranded with the new double arrow logo of BR inthe 1960s, shortly before its temporary 20 year closure.  And so a sign encouraging people to go to the stations, and to go there on foot, seems a good image to use on our web site.  A Community Rail Partnership can look after infrastrucure - perhaps one or two of us can take our scrubbing brushes out each spring and clean the signs.

Salisbury, Warminster and Dilton Marsh are on the southern section of the TransWilts which enjoy services from Bath and Bristol as well as from Swindon at 06:16 and 18:44.  But talking to people in those towns, they want to (and need to) travel to Chippenham and Swinson just as much as they want to go to Bath and Bristol.  We've notices that FGW have streadily improved connections at Bath, and in once case retimed a service from Salisbury with that specific purpose - but that dogleg journey will always take at least quarter of an hour longer that a direct service, and that's with a perfect connection and the physique to dash down and up the steps at Bath

Trowbridge, Chippenham and Melksham are all set to grow over the next 15 years - and indeed are already growing.  Five years ago, this picture would have shown a derelict warehouse rather than smart, modern housing (which was sold, according to the sales brochure, with the proximity of the station as a major asset).  And five years ago the train probably wouldn't have been quite so smart either.

Services from Westbury to Swindon only run at 07:02 and 19:35 during the week, and in the evening on a Sunday ... but on Saturdays, there's a well timed train just after 9 O'Clock which allows you to make shopping trips to Swindon.  Publicity for the service is almost notable by its absence as yet, but even so people are staring to cotton on.  Return services - direct to Melksham, Trowbridge and Westbury - are available mid afternoon and mid evening.

A really significant move my Wiltshire Council in November 2009 was to purchase the old railway land on the platform side of the station from the BRB residuary body, thus allowing it to be safeguarded for transport purposes. Here are Richard Gamble (Wiltshire Council Portfolio Holder for public transport), Rod Eaton (Wiltshire Councillor for the ward including Melksham Station), Jonathan Seed (Melksham Area Board Chair) and Richard Wiltshire (Mayor of Melksham) at the ststion to take part in a press release session prior to the official announcement.

One of the features of the last few months in Wiltshire has been the public consultations on where we're going - the Core strategy, Local Transport Plan 3, etc - which have included public exhibitions in halls in many towns (and in a drafty mobile unit in one or two  ;) ).  It's been good to see some of the responses already posted when visiting the exhibitions, and I have been struck by the requests in many places for improved rail services.  I understand that the on line vote also came down very much in favour of rail, which for some reason was described as the "radical" approach.

A train on the southern end of the TransWilts.  Who knows .. in 10 years time, this very train may be still be serving Warminster ... and carrying on every hour through to Chippenham and Swindon.  That's the frequency suggested as appropriate by the Greater Western Route Utilisation Strategy!

In Winter, all the current weekday TransWilts services run during the hours of darkness - which mean that pictures are quite rare. Using our special night vision camera, we were ablle to picture people leaving the direct train from Swindon on one cold winter's evening shortly before Christmas.

At Chippenham, there's an old platform which could potentially be restored as a turnback for the TransWilts.  The idea has some merit, as there are already 2 other trains an hour with plenty of seats available running to Swindon, and that extra time for the "TransWilts train" could be used in putting  the frequency up where there are no other trains.  This is something that's really up in the air;  on a price of 13,000,000 (yes 13 million) pounds which has been used in the calculations, the option is too expensive to be justified on current forecasts ... but if it turns out that the price is high (it seems incredibly high to me), or that traffic levels would be significantly higher that initially forecast, the "third platform" option could come back in to play.

It's not only about the times that trains run, but also about the round trip opportunities that they offer.  Here's a diagram showing Swindon departure for and arrivals from the Transwilts - now, and what could be without any extra rolling stock. At present, just the trains in black operate, giving only one round trip opportunity per day, with a very long 11 hours in Swindon.  Note how a post-peak train up to Swindon in the morning, and a pre-peak return in the evening add no fewer that three more opportunities (so you go from 2 round trips to 3 per day, and your commute opportunities rise from 1 that's impractically long to 4 - two of which are of a perfact duration for many people).  An extra round trip in the middle of the day adds four more opportunities for part time work, shopping an leisure trips, etc.

Re: New Image -> New Images - 8081/13091
Written by Lee on Wednesday, 3rd March 2010

[quote author=Graham Ellis link=topic=8081.msg13090#msg13090 date=1267620893]I learned yesterday that Melksham Station was one of the very first to be rebranded with the new double arrow logo of BR inthe 1960s, shortly before its temporary 20 year closure.[/quote]

This is shown in the following 1964 photo of Melksham station:

Re: New Image -> New Images - 8081/13092
Written by admin (Graham Ellis) on Wednesday, 3rd March 2010

Goodness, Lee ... I have seen that picture before, but had never noticed!

link to index of articles

Save the Train was the campaign to bring an approriate train service back to and through Melksham.

Most big contributors are still around writing at the Coffee shop forum where new members are very welcome.

The train has been saved - sort of - we have stepped back up from an unusable service to a poorish one but it's doing very well. We did that through setting up the TransWilts Community Rail Partnership. That fulfilled its early objectives; it has been taken over by local and regional government types who are now doing medium and long term work. The team from this forun can also be found at the Melksham Rail User Group (which was the Melksham Rail Development Group at the time these articles were written and we had no users.

We mustn't loose sight, though, that the train service remains poor and needs our community support in marketing and campaigning to keep it going in a positive direction ... and all the more so when we're expecting to find a different normallity once we get out of the Coronavirus Pandemic and head for zero carbon via the climate crisis. Yes, it's saved ... it's now a key community facility ... the need for enhancement and the strong and near-universal local support remain, and the rail industry and goverment remain slow to move and provide the enhancements even to level us up with other towns. Please support the Melksham Rail User Group - now very much in partnership rather than protest with the rail industry and local government, including GWR, TransWilts and unitary and town councils. And please use the trains and buses, and cycle and walk when you can.

-- Graham Ellis, (webmaster), February 2021

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