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This is an archived page.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

Follow up to "Save the Train" meeting
20th September 2005.

Many thanks for coming to the meeting on Tuesday night; after this short note, I'll add a set of minutes for the meeting which includes a link to my presentation. I was heartened to see that everyone present, even though coming from many different angles, felt that the train provides a useful service that should be improve upon rather than cut.

a) We have a further meeting next Tuesday to look at specific issues outlined at the end of the minutes - to start the "real work" of evaluating furure requirements, campaigning for a retention or improvement of the service, and also helping to boost traffic further on the existing service. If you want to be involved and can get along, great. If you can't make it but want to be involved please LET ME KNOW.

b) I have placed an online forum for discusion of the issues at and I've seeded it with a number of posts.

I heard a comment on Tuesday that "this meeting won't solve anything". Too right - the meeting didn't (and couldn't) solve anything in its own right. But it was a start / a direction pointer. I'll be working within my capacity and capability to progress this through over coming weeks and months, and look forward to working WITH you with what you can bring to the table. Together, we can succeed; we can evaluate, propose and obtain a suitable rail service - be it Westbury to Chippenham, Weymouth to Swindon, Salisbury to Oxford, or some other permutation.


Minutes - Meeting at 404, The Spa, Melksham on 20th September at 19:30

Subject for discussion: Proposals for Melksham Train service under the new franchise arrangements from 2006.

Attended by 25 persons


Introduction and Presentation by Graham Ellis. Presentation is available online at


It was clarified that the level of service being requested in the bid was for a train from Westbury to Swindon in the morning peak on Mondays to Fridays, a train from Swindon to Westbury in the evening peak on Mondays to Fridays, and an additional evening trip round trip.

It was explained that the bidders have been asked to enter a baseline bid as per the bid request levels and two other bids - one for providing a minimum level service at the lowest cost, and another for providing services at a level that the company feel should be provided.

Bids were due in by 26th September. Contract for the franchise is to be awarded on 21st December. It is expected that the winner will be known around 3 weeks earlier in order to allow time for contracts to be drawn up.

The meeting felt that the level of service being offered in the basic bid falls far short of being an attractive service that people would use. At the basic level, it was felt that the only users would be a small band of commuters to Swindon that the service happened to suit.

The meeting felt that a regular and reliable service with good connections would be used much more heavily, and looked to the evidence of growing traffic since the service increased from one to 5 trains a day in 2001. Reliability, connections and a "clock face" service were considered to be far better than a slight increase of service level at the cost of unreliability and a complex timetable.

The meeting discussed possible route including Chippenham to Westbury, Swindon to Westbury, Swindon to Salisbury, Swindon to Southampton, Swindon to Weymouth, Oxford to Salisbury, London to Weymouth. Consideration was given to potential traffic levels and operational issues such as track capacity, train servicing and possible turn-around points. Further study and correlation of data is necessary.

Connections and travel requirements discussed including journeys going off the immediate route of the service. In particular, travel to Bath Bristol and London. Some current connections are poor - often due to train diagramming and track issues.

Traffic surveys and usage studies will help to provide proof that a service would be used (though how you can prove such a thing without actually running the service ...). Wessex trains indicated that they would be open to an official approach to have our representative ride on the train and talk to / survey passengers. Melksham councils indicated that they would help with local surveys.

It was felt that promoting the current service is worthwhile. Traffic levels have been growing [[I have some extra information after the meeting]] and the service IS used. Suggestions included summary timetables for the line and timetables that show connections to Bath, Bristol and London in an easy to read form, special events, publicity via the local paper.

It was suggested that we must lobby at a high level to get "onto the radar". Although some 19500 ticketed journeys in 2002/3 started from or ended at Melksham (and the number of through passengers was probably 3 times that), without strong campaigning it is unlikely that the lines / these numbers would get much attention. A comparison was made to the 25 million annual journeys to / from Paddington that officials will be considering.

It was explained that the current combined franchises are paid some 100 million pounds per annum in subsidy for running the services in the West of England, but that the government is looking for bids where the operators pay them about the same amount for the privelige of running the trains.


1. The meeting concluded to meet again as soon as practical in the form of a working committee to look at:

a) Survey and gathering information.
b) Promotion of existing service
c) Evaluation of options for future service
d) Campaigning
e) Organisation of the group to make it as effective as possible and to work with (or within) other groups as appropriate.

It was agreed that time is of the essence, so the meeting has been set for Tuesday, 27th September at 404, The Spa, Melksham.

2. It was also concluded that an online forum should be set up to allow for ongoing discussions and ideas for those people with access to the technology. This has been done and the forum is at:

This site is hosted by Well House Consultants Ltd. (
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