Save the Melksham Train
Save the Train v More Train, Less Strain

I'm posting up this comparison ... written in answer to an email this morning ... to help people differenetiate between the two groups

"Save the Train" was started around 18 months ago (August 2005) with the main goal of providing an appropriate train service from Swindon to Westbury and beyond after December 2006, when it was threatened with reduction by over 60%, in spite of dramatically growing usage. Although we had the support of hundreds of people who actively signed up, and produced evidence of ongoing growth that would have continued had the service done so, it was cut back last December. Worse than that, the 2 remaining trains are now timed such that they don't appear to meet the most important customer needs. The 06:19 leaves Swindon (largest town in Wiltshire) almost empty for Chippenham (4th largest), Melksham (5th), Trowbridge (3rd), Westbury, Warminster and Salisbury (2nd largest). The 18:42 leaves long after the regular commuters from Swindon to these places have left by other means - primarily by private car. The Train Operating Company hasn't provided me with any information as to the potential market they see for these new timings, but that have pointed to the need to re-use the same train on other lines to provide peak services there.

"More Train, Less Strain" was formed as a response to the December 2006 cuts in frequency and length of train services from Frome, Trowbridge, Bath and intermediate stations into Bristol, and the unreliability of the remaining services. The changes effect a large number of people and the highly publicised "fare strike" organised by the group appeared to win some respite - although it's very much 10 steps backwards and just 1 forward (a few carriages added back in where many were removed) and questions are being asked as to how permanent, or otherwise, the step forward will prove to be.

I am a resident of Melksham, Wiltshire, served ONLY by the Swindon to Westbury service which we have called the "TransWilts"; I host the "Save the Train" website at and I started the recent petition to the Prime Minister at which gathered 1690 signatures in 3 weeks, making it number 8 out of 402 petitions on transportation and infrastructure.

The key players in "More Train, Less Strain" are Simon Carpenter of Frome, Tony Ambrose and Peter Andrews. Their web site is at . Since this is a new group that "Save the Train", their web visibility is not as high and searches via Google on their name currently rank "Save the Train" higher.

I've met with Tony and Peter, and we're in agreement that our groups need to liaise (at the least) as we're both looking for appropriate / decent services using the same pool of trains, with the same operator and regulation system involved. However, the distortions of the current timetable mean we have very different situations currently on the ground, with overcrowded peak hour trains on Peter and Tony's line, and no peak trains at all (passengers now on the road) on the TransWilts.

Simon, Tony and Peter are your best contacts for the future direction of "MTLS", but I can tell you something of the future plans for "Save The Train".

At "Save the Train", we are very much in touch with all the key players and looking to work with them to sort out the current situation which, frankly, does no-one any good. It's pretty pointless running an empty pre-dawn train ... which is empty because anyone who wanted to use it for their daily commute wouldn't have an appropriate return service 8 hours or so later. So we're working with First (who have been looking at the possibility of timetabling a round trip every 2 hours), the Department for Transport (from whom I've received an email overnight suggesting we might like to look at a community rail service initiative), our MPs (supporting all along the line - right across Wiltshire), county, district and town councils, other rail user groups, rail trades unions and staff, etc. We could well be at a "cusp" - though it's hard to tell - where we CAN continue the push to an appropriate service and get that running before the end of the year.

Even before I heard from the DfT, I was planning to call a co-ordination meeting in 4 weeks time and invite all the key players to look at the railway service and its provision from the community's viewpoint - to look at not only providing but also sustaining the service henceforth. That meeting is scheduled for 5th March, in Melksham.

The "Save the Train" website has continued to monitor services and developments, and grow. We have had a number of requests for forums in which services on other FGW lines can be discussed by the franchise's customers, and we are now also hosting the site for that purpose. There is merit in co-ordination. We are very much aware that the stengthening of one servicve could lead to the reduction or abandonment of another - indeed, the 06:47 Frome to Bristol grew to 4 coaches in a blaze of publicity, in week that the 06:44 from Melksham was cancelled more often than it ran.

Written 2007-02-09 06:50:00

Available entries ...

Welcome to News and Views
Welcome to News and Views
The story so far
Looking slightly wider
Don't let this become history!
Meeting, 20th September - getting nervous
Encouraging traffic not just warm words
Official (Government) view ... and I agree
Don't believe everything you hear
Old pictures. Not to be repeated event
Great meeting but just a start.
35% Growth in one year - Melksham ticket statistics
Swindon to Trowbridge
Regularity, Reliability, Realistic connections
Core meeting
Didn't you read page 52 of web document?
An easy timetable - Melksham to Chippenham and Swindon
Would this government close a station completely?
Quotes from Government
Tuesday, 18th October - Kiss and Ride day
Six NEW factors why the TransWilts train that serves Melksham should be enhanced and not cut
And more train users ...
Try the train on 18th October
Tracking codes for TransWilts stations
New stats prove it - the service IS used
Bump from Glasgow
Ready for Tuesday
Kiss and Ride report
A case of the tail wagging the dog??
The system is overcomplex - no wonder some odd things happen
Warminster Bus Running Day, 2005
The storm's eye?
A disappointing letter
Some scenes at Melksham Station
Monday morning, Melksham Station
Busy train at Melksham
Forum Archives available
A THOUSAND visitors
What does it cost to run a train?
Timetable - Melksham to Reading and London
Plus a footnote - Melksham to London
A bustle before the 17:02
STILL worth writing. To MP, To Dft, to bidders.
Keeping the campaign tail up
Don't drink and drive - drink and train.
Driving customers away?
Latest official answer
At Temple Meads today
Melksham and TransWilts train service - closure by stealth?
From the rumour mill
A Quandry
Santa Claus at Melksham Station
Train service fading away too?
Greater Western Franchise awarded
First Group - First answer on Melksham
First specific Melksham rumour ...
Virtually no service - or excellent service. Request the latter.
Should badgers be culled?
Melksham rail traffic up 33% in 3 months
Upside Down
Every journey has a story
New fares from 2nd January 2006
No final decision yet
Even new stations don't always survive
A comparison across the world
Christmas service - unrequired, or just unprovided?
New year, 2006
Bustitution - buses for trains on Saturdays and Sundays
New Sign
The Meeting Season
Reply from MD of First Great Western
Wilts County Council could save the Melksham / Transwilts train
What does First pay the government for Greater Western?
Railway statistics and Melksham comparisons - how do we stand?
Winners and losers in the Devizes constituency
First want to hear your aspirations
Repeat - PLEASE write in with your aspirations
Were they purchasing votes?
Current status ...
Further threats
Keep watching - coming to the boil!
Recent Correspondence
From my postbag ...
Timetable consultation coming up
Waiting, with baited breath
Meeting with a local MP
Today or tomorrow
Draft Timetable is here
Out with the old users, in with the new
On the 05:52 this morning
Background and opinion
Draft timetables (continued)
Three and a half answers out of 4
A week is a long time
Roger Jones answers 5 months later!
Safer current trains - the 06:56, 07:45 and 18:09
INPUTS NEEDED by 8th March
Meetings and Consultation Responses
A whole pile of responses
Ploughing back OUR money, not theirs.
New pages and information
On supporting other campaigns ...
Not just the TransWilts and Melksham ...
Service failure looses more customers
The Waiting Game
Real time train monitoring
Someone can't wait!
High emotion
UPDATE - new timetables
An update - BAD, BAD news for Melksham ...
First - transforming travel
Constituency Changes
Southampton to Westbury RESTORED
Friday, 21st, Trowbridge
Meeting, Friday 21st
Celebrating a closure
Meeting, tonight
Friday's meeting
What SWPTUF says
Meeting, 21st - notes
Parliamentary Debate, 25th April
First back down or buses too.
Diary Date - 12th May
RailFuture meeting today
RailFuture meeting - some gems
First way to get rid of customers?
Friday meeting - invite and details
It gets worse
Every so often, stop and look
Bus service costs 25 pounds per passenger to run?
Carrying fresh air around?
Home soon.
Put yourself in their shoes
Lies, damned lies and statistics
Our battle ....
... is part of a planned war
Political pressure - press release
How to catch the 18:48 from Chippenham - the DfT suggests
Internet connection issues
Selling off any possibility of improvement
Letter from Derek Twigg
Important but not refreshing meeting
Welcome for Michael Ancram and Chris Grayling
Visit by Chris Grayling and Michael Ancram
Friday, 7th July - Melksham
Rail future - the First Alternative
Pivotal decison - to grow or to strangle?
Bad news coming?
In praise of estate agents
Press Release - Open Access operator negotiations
Open Access case strengthened
A desire for honesty
Flowers for Melksham. Flowers at Melksham.
Has our publicity reached the right people?
One year on
A year on - an empty bank holiday
Bus connections to Melksham from Chippenham
Is this train used?
If its working well, change it so it doesnt.
20% service cut = 40% traffic cut?
A difficult choice for voters
Consultant's reports recommended a modest INCREASE
From Ystrad Mynach
Taunton meeting
More cancellations
Passenger or lemmings
Behind the new timetable
Is this fare?
Returning from their UK course
End of term - don't care
Current and future summary
2 weeks to go
Fading away?
Coming to a course in Melksham
Last Week - Press Release
They're gone ... but ...
New service - first impressions
"Told you so"
Christmas, 2006
Welcome to 2007
PLEASE LOBBY - First, Dft, County Council, your MP
Key players
Keeping the diary rolling
End game?
Invite letter - 5th March 2007 meeting
Passengers or Customers?
A fast-moving story?
The traveller, not the train!
Report - Monday night's meeting - press brief
What is happening?
Reply to Petition
Petition Response - detail, opinion, context
Government pressure to shut up. But let us look forward.
Asking for the political and part views
Helsinki and Heathrow to Melksham - Saturday
Gordon Dodge, Rest in Peace
An update
The way forward - improved service and improved station
A roundup from a MELKSHAM perspective
Update being updated!
News Roundup - a LOT is happening
Diary notes
New faces - mayors and chairs.
We have another hill to climb
Radio - tomorrow morning?
Weymouth, Poor Provisional, and Sunday
A Comparison - travel in the USA by train
The Ghost Train, Purton
How to fill platforms, and railway company coffers too!
FSB - North and West Wilts Commitee - Federation of Small Businesses
Frustrated but not depairing
Front page update
Comment on December timetables
A First to Stagecoach comparison
Does the new man want to play hard?
And the week ends with two more cancellations!
Comparing a Wiltshire town with a Norfolk one
Commutes are longer, and in the west we may know why
Campaigning Mantra - Philosophy behind the case
30 late, and a bus not a train ....
Staffing-go-round - but the campaigners carry on
Rail user groups do NOT represent rail users?
Cancellations, Changes and Crass Christmas
First Great Western's Melksham service branded "a disgrace"
A pile of 160 train tickets for tomorrow
Santa Claus spotted at Swindon Station
TransWilts trains ceased a year ago. Lets look forward
Trains to and from Melksham - Timetable from Dec07 to May08
Happy Christmas everyone!
How have trains being doing in the last 48 hours?
Asda - an opportunity that can be used or squandered
Another slap in the face from First Great Western
On truthfully advertising the case
Fare Strike Day
Comparing a different part of the country
Where has our train gone?
Want to comment? You're welcome on the forum
An unusual journey for me - some observations
Milk producers
Meeting Season
The heart says "public transport", the head forces car
Not a Swiss clock railway this morning
Senseless service - could become sensible
Terminal 5 - a portent for the Olympics?
Loss of train - loss of job
Population growth, but congested roads
Road - busy ... railway - no trains, so no users
One long journey ends and another begins
Campaign update - news for December 08 / 09 / 10 / 11 ...
Preserved Railways - a look forward
Spring 2009 Campaign update

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