Why does this page exist?

Until a couple of years ago, train travellers in Wiltshire and the rest of the South West of England were an accepting bunch. In Wiltshire, Wessex Trains provide a service of 10 trains a day calling at Melksham as part of their Swindon to Southampton run - and usage of the service was growing at between 10% and 35% per annum depending on which statistics you considered. Sure, the trains were cancelled occasionally, often a bit doggeared and dirty and sometimes a few minutes late - and the publicity for them was awful especially as major stations such as Swindon where Wessex Trains (part of the National Express) group were very much the junior partner - swamped by First.

Then on 1st April 2006, the First group took over as the Train Operating Company. The following December they withdrew ALL through trains and left just 2 round trips a day on the Swindon to Westbury section. They did a "consultation exercise" on their draft timetable, but when we asked for the morning service to be a little later than proposed and the evening service a little ealier, they produced a final timetable that did the exact OPPOSITE - a train that starts at 06:19 in the morning, and a second that completes its run at 20:20. "At least you'll see a change in reliability" they said , and we did - for the worse! Monitoring over 2 week periods, up to 40% of the meagre remaining services were cancelled.

Promises of six extra services a day from December 2007 also turned to dust - again, the drafts were produced and discussed then a final inappropriate timetable imposed (to be fair, we do have one extra train a WEEK). And once again the new service has not only abysmal timing (the morning train is even earlier ... the evening one even later) but once again we're getting cancellation rates like 50% (3 day period in December). Now First will tell you (correctly) that they have to run to a specification laid down by the Department for Transport. Indeed they do, but they ARE allowed to run the trains at the time we want (they actually had to have the spec changed to allow them to run that early train so early!), and they certainly are allowed to run a reliable service!

Actually, all is NOT gloom and doom. I think First, the Department for Transport and the local transport authority - Wiltshire County Council - are listening a bit more now - and I think we would ALL like to work with them to get an appropriate (timing and reliability) service on the TransWilts.

Story summary ... here

Here are some of the recent / current problems over the FGW area as a whole:

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In order to keep up to date on train reliability, the Save the Train team has learned how to monitor performance ... and the techniques we use for Melksham (population 24,000 - train service cut to 2 a day each way by First) can be applied elsewhere too. We do hope to improve the reporting and statistics from this page in the near future - at the moment, use it with care as we have a few details to resolve and in any case we can only be as good as our sources.

In the table above, we report on 0 different service(s).

FGW run about 8500 (guessing - does anyone have an accurate number?) service a week - the figure was 9079 before their Dec '06 cuts - so if we report incidents effecting 50 services over a 2 day period on this page, we're looking at around 2% of services - i.e. 98% are running as normal or were cancelled with more than 24 hours notice so don't actually count as cancelled!
Seven services of the type that don't show up on this page. Line closed from Swindon to Kemble on weekend of 12th / 13th Jan 2008. So 4 TransWilts trains replaced by buses (Why? - Swindon to Kemble is a different line grouped with ours by First as an operational convenience!) and 3 working short. Not a single train running as timetabled!

For further information on First Great Western services, visit their official site. There's also a discussion forum run by passengers (and wannabe passenger).

For contact information, see the Save the Train web site or email the site admin.

This is a test page ONLY and it will tend to present optimistic figures that are showing a brighter picture than really exists.
Known issues:
Only limited status conditions are monitored
Some trains that run past midnight are double-reported
"Planned Cancellations" notified 24 hours ahaed are NOT shown
Failures on route do NOT show

Information from public sources presented by the Save the Train Campaign