Save the Melksham Train
A roundup from a MELKSHAM perspective

A "What's happening" list I've prepared as notes for the Annual General Meeting of the Melksham Rail Development Group that I'll be attending tonight. These are my personal notes - content is just my view in places and I believe it to be correct but ((legal disclaimer, E & O E, will update as and when I get a chance))

Key points for MRDG / AGM

This is "MRDG" - i.e. Melksham - rather than "Save the Train" - i.e. whole service biased and is in the form of personal notes. But it goes provide a good background to all the stuff that's happening at the moment!

• Web Site

With Peter and John's go ahead, we have registered the web site and put a holding page there. Lisa would like to volunteer to set up and maintain the whole site.

• Lottery for Road

We have submitted a lottery bid for "The People's Millions" to the big lottery fund. This is a TV show for awards of up to 80k for projects, where we get a platform for the cause and a change of getting funding (and that can be complete funding). Signed off by Peter and John, independent referee is Chris Irwin of Travel Watch South West and many other hats.

Our bid is for 47k; I have roadwork ball park quotes for about half that amount but have not started any local publicity prior to the AGM.

• Gordon Special

We were all shocked to hear of the passing of Gordon Dodge, the vice chairman of the group, in April after a short illness. Gordon was the powerhouse behind MRDG and a lovely, lovely man with an infectious enthusiasm. He leaves a huge hole and is sadly missed.

I have approached FGW about running a seaside special this summer as a tribute to Gordon, but they have come back with a "no specials AT ALL this summer" - not even extending the Sunday morning Westbury to Weymouth to start from Melksham.

Alternative suggestion (and good publicity!) ... BUS to Westbury on a Sunday morning, then train trip round. Change at Westbury on the way back into one of the two Sunday trains.

• Santa Special

I have been advised that we should run this BEFORE the December timetable change. As the current timings (before December) make it near impossible, I wonder as I write this how much worse the next timetable will be. However, teh next item may supreceed that.

• Andrew Report

I understand there may be some news from Andrew Griffiths of FGW, but I have been told not to expect too much.

• 3 x DfT at County and working group

A working group has been set up (experts, officials, finance, etc) chaired by WCC as a result of the Save The Train meeting in March. Rather slow starting and as I'm not in any of the categories I'm not a member ...

DfT officials have visited the county for discussions on the "TransWilts" service - David Philips is probable better placed to commet than I as he was at the meeting.


West Wilts Rail User Group is now looking for someone to represent Melksham on their committee - half a dozen meetings a year to keep them up with the Melksham perspective. John Ingram and Janet Repton are the contacts.

• Freight Grants

Tom Harris (Minister for Transport) has just announced 44 million in grants for freight service enhancement for environmental reasons, including services through Melksham. He has FAILED to announce any support or the passenger services, where First are looking for a 300k per Annum and that would give major environmental and convenience and economic gains.

• South of Salisbury consults

12 week consultantion to start after this coming Friday on CHANGES to the FGW SLC, with a view to reducing what they're committed to do south of Salisbury. Thsi worries me as Andrew Griffiths assured me that the SLC was for 10 years and so he didn't anticipate that Melksham and the TransWilts could loose any more services.

I also note that Dilton Marsh may loose half its service as from December.

Questions / thoughts. (a) Extend SWT hourly Southampton - Salisbury service to Swindon; deal with all the issues along the way and work around the FGW stock level problems. (b) use the consultation to emphasise the whole corridor not just Mottifont and Dean.

NOTE email response from Alison Forster just received. The consultation may not happen as the timetables as "fixed anyway" now.

• Transport hub @ TIC

The Tourist Information Centre is bidding for lottery funds to become a transport hub, allowing them to sell products that include train tickets.

• Asda

Asda are planning to build a supermarket (250 parking spaces, 28000 square feet, up to 300 jobs) at West Country Farmers.

Co-operation / Transport Hub?

• Fares lowered and usage report

Fares from Melksham to Chippenham / Swidnon lowered - e.g. Chippenham to Melksham now 2.80 single. Said to be to encourage traffic.

The few remaining trains are quiet. I travelled on the train that arrived in Melksham at 21:38 last Saturday. Just 2 people on the train from Chippenham including myself and both got off at Melksham.

It is my view that the timing is inappropriate and it's the timing and not the pricing that needs to be fixes, but I would welcome First's explanation otherwise. My view is that fares could have risen by 25% to increas farebox take and help the economics of the line and the case for a decent service.

• County grant to buses

The County Council has given a further grant (to Stagecoach) for the bus service from Trowbridge to Swindon. The service has the same passenger count in broad terms as the train did last year, but takes 95 minutes rathe than 35 minutes. It was explained to me that the grant was given to the buses because "they server intermediate journeys too". Not a good excuse - the trains ALSO serve intermediate points (indeed, they serve Melksham which the bus does NOT).

There is a good case for the bus subsidy. But there is a BETTER case for subsidising the train, so there action on the buses should make their financial support for the trains into a no-brainer.

• Letter from Keith Robinson

I have received (this morning) a letter from Keith Robinson, chief executive of Wilts CC. Copies available at meeting.

Dr Robinson is pointing at First (who, let me remiond you point at the DfT, who point back at the country council). He does, however, confirm that the county does NOT have a closed mind about subsidising trains.

• Letters from FGW

a) A report on the first year of the franchise , talking / promising more improvements for the future and glossing over (IMHO) the problems. Nothing specific for Melksham SERVICES or TransWilts Services, though we are promised a refit of the trains.

b) A "Glenda" - letter from Glenda Lamont to all interested parties - after the recent damning customer satisfaction survey across all railway companies. It explains that FGW was in the throws of settling downafter the timetable change and had some teething troubles when the survey was done, and explains hwo they're putitng thinsg right. Once again, though, NOTHING on service improvements for the TransWilts.

I spoke with Glenda Lamont in person in March at the meeting called by West Wilts District Council on the train subject, and she promised to get back with me shortly on what would be happening from December. She HAS got back with me several times, to say teh information is not yet available. Still awaited.

• Party in the Park

Chance for last minute table? Melksham Carnival, 14th July

Written 2007-06-08 15:22:38

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?
Save the Train v More Train, Less Strain
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
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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