Save the Melksham Train
Archived Save the Train forum articles - 2005 to 2010. See below
South to North - TransWilts: My letter to FDRP - 4117/7729
Written by courgettelawn on Friday, 21st September 2007

I am catching up with many things following the accident. Apologies for brevity but these posts should speak for themselves. Response from Fleur de Rhe-Philipe follows above to my letter - below - regarding travelling difficulties across Wilts:

Dear Cllr de Rhe-Philipe,

I write to you in your capacity as cabinet member with responsibility
for Environment, Transport and Economic Development and also as member
of Salisbury Transportation Plan Jt Committee.

Following the decision by central government to endorse Wiltshire CC's
application to be the only local authority body in the county, I
wanted to air some of my concerns about transport to you while you
remain in your current role.

I live in Salisbury and currently it is very difficult to travel from
south to north, for example to Chippenham, and more difficult than it
should be.  To travel by rail, I have to leave the county, change at
Bath Spa, adding up to 50 minutes or more to the journey,
delays.  To travel by bus I have to change buses in Devizes, the total
journey time exceeding two hours.  The rail link that used to serve
Salisbury and Chippenham, as you know, has been severely curtailed and
there is only one weekday direct journey a day between the two,
leaving Salisbury at 19:05 with no direct return journey at all.

With a more appropriate service I and many others from the south of
the county could travel to the north in about 50-55 minutes direct.
This is also significantly quicker than a car journey on a normal day.

While my opinion on the proposed Westbury Bypass is undecided, I do
feel that if it is to be a long term success, public transport links
must be improved _at the same time_.  In areas of the country where
bypasses have been used as a solution to congestion in towns, they
have quickly found their capacity is reached and the problem of
congestion and its related problems (air quality, poor environment,
etc) recurrs but just moved elsewhere.  I would not want this to
happen in Wiltshire, especially considering the sums of tax-payers
money to be spent on this road (should it go ahead).

I am sure, with your current responsibility both for the road project
and as our representative to local train operators and Department for
Transport that this issue is foremost in your mind.  I felt it was
important therefore to air my concerns to you so you understand that
the current difficulties, especialy with rail transport in Wiltshire,
is an issue that affects people from all of its areas.

The other crucial point to my worries concerns Wiltshire County
Council's relocation of key services to places like Chippenham, for
example the County Record Office and County Local
Studies Library.  Many users of the new facility will want, need and
indeed ought to be encouraged, to use public transport instead of cars
to get to Chippenham to use these services.

The claims that access will be improved to these facilities and
services must be followed through with thought for transport as well
as the physicality and staff of the venue itself.  This could not be
more relevant in this age when we are all seeking to reduce our
reliance on cars, not just for the sake of climate change but also for
the conservation of finite resources and the improvement of the
environment of urban areas.  If a single WIltshire is also to be a
success, the concept of the county must have effective communication
at its heart.

I would very much like to hear how the new council will address the
problems with cross-county transport as part and parcel of the Bypass

I look forward to your reply.

I have copied this to my MP Robert Key with whom I have been in
regular correspondence about the problems with transportation in the

Yours sincerely,

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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