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27421  Sideshoots - associated subjects / The Lighter Side / Can anyone ID this? on: March 09, 2008, 11:58:15 am
Question (competiton style) in header

And when you have, what can we learn from it?
27422  All across the Great Western territory / Fare's Fair / Re: Ticket Machines - machines missing or broken, and penalty fare implications (merged topics) on: March 09, 2008, 11:48:24 am
Does anyone know what the cost is to buy and install a ticket machine?  Or if not, what would you guess?  I'm looking for the price of a machine such as those installed at many of the stations in these parts which are not manned throughout train service hours.
27423  All across the Great Western territory / Across the West / Re: Fletcher On Tour - March 2008 on: March 08, 2008, 05:47:35 pm
Newquay has 5hrs 33mins between trains in the afternoon! I believe Newquay is infact bigger than Melksham?

Very interesting comparison.  Wikipedia says of Newquay:

According to the 2001 census it had a permanent population of 19,423


The town has a resident population of around 22,000 but this can increase to 100,000 or more in the summer.

And Of Melksham:

The 2001 UK (United Kingdom) census cited Melksham as having 20,000 inhabitants, including sizeable environs such as Bowerhill and Berryfield.

And I will add

Melksham has grown since 2001, and a figure of 23500 (+-500) is probably correct at the present day - to compare to the 22,000 (winter) and 100,000 (Summer) of Newquay. We do have an excellent hotel in Melksham, but wouldn't pretend to be able to house anywhere like the Newquay numbers.

On - and, Lee - if you look at the gap in service times overnight, it's only a gap of eleven and a half hours  Grin
27424  Journey by Journey / TransWilts line / Re: Solving TransWilts travel problems - an effective solution now possible on: March 08, 2008, 06:04:55 am
I've just completed a 7 page report on the TransWilts options which are currently practical - the "open doors" that can be pushed on for service from this coming December.  And that includes the option above. See here as a .pdf and here for the html option

Please feel free to circulate the URLs and copies of the report, to write to the named decision makers (and other) to tell them your own thoughts on options, and feel free to ask me questions on what's there too.
27425  Journey by Journey / Swindon to Gloucester / Cheltenham / Re: Extra Trains For The Cheltenham Festival on: March 08, 2008, 04:49:18 am
the TAC (Track Access Contract) modification

"TAC" is a new acronym on me .. and I don't think you meant TOC (Train Operating Company).  "Telecomms Appreciation course" was what Google came up with ...

Help ... I'm sure I'm not the only one who doesn't understand  Undecided
27426  Sideshoots - associated subjects / News, Help and Assistance / Re: Other Train Operating Company's services on: March 07, 2008, 07:16:22 pm
There is also London Midalnd to Worcester Foregate Street and Hereford which lap over.

Agreed - and I expect there are others I've overlooked (Redhill to Gatport Airwick has just sprung to mind!)
27427  Journey by Journey / Wales local journeys / Re: Severn Tunnel Action Group update on: March 07, 2008, 04:20:49 pm
Thanks for posting that Lee  - makes useful reading.
27428  Journey by Journey / Wales local journeys / Re: S l o w but got there in the end on: March 07, 2008, 04:19:58 pm
Is it me, or does this post seem a little "Arriva Trains Wales Coffeeshop" material......

Yes, but I've just modified the board title to make it clear that you are VERY welcome to use this coffeeshop for such South Wales topics.  Might draw a line at Llanfairfechan posts, but I personally have a soft spot for Morfa Mawwdach so I'm sure you'ld get away with that  Cheesy
27429  Sideshoots - associated subjects / News, Help and Assistance / Other Train Operating Company's services on: March 07, 2008, 04:15:06 pm
Although we're set up here to cover (First) Great Western topics, certain other Train Operators / services overlap and connect with them.   And in response to a couple of questions that have been asked - yes - you're very welcome to post questions / comments / information relating to other services in this wedge of the country.   I've added such a comment to the title of some boards as a "hint / permission" - but that list isn't complete I'm sure.

I can confirm that AT LEAST that posts concerning the following are valid ...

South West Trains - Portsmouth to Southampton, to Romsey, to Salisbury
South West Trains - to Bristol, to Exeter, to Paignton, Plymouth and Penzance
Cross Country services into the area via Bromsgrove / Ashchurch
Cross Country services into the area via Banbury / out via Basingstoke
Arriva's South Wales services.
Chiltern trains to Bicester and Banbury

But I will "warn" you that you may not find quite such a load of experts on these service that aren't core to the board ...

27430  All across the Great Western territory / Across the West / Re: SDO............why the discrepancies on: March 07, 2008, 02:58:46 pm
But I assume there will still be problems like I suggested above, caused by signal limitations, track layout etc.

What happens if someone gets off, and their bike is in the power car/guards van, which is off the platform?

I think that's what happened on the early morning Paddington to Swansea that I was on the other week, which reverses in Temple Meads and calls at Abbey Wood ... stopped with the front in the platform, discussion between customer and train crew, train pulls forward and makes a second stop.

27431  All across the Great Western territory / Buses and other ways to travel / Train v Bus and Train v Car - a comparison on: March 07, 2008, 07:56:03 am
It's a 25 minute rail journey from Melksham to Swindon by train, and I'm going up there tomorrow to attend a "Social Enterprise and the Railways" conference - so what better way than to go by train?


Well - it turns out that the train's a bit of a problem.  After the 19:50 tonight, which gets in to Swindon at 20:20 (yes, that one dawdles an extra 5 minutes), First Great Western aren't offering any more services that arrive until after the 10:00 arrival that I need.  And returning, I would need to leave an hour before the end of the event to catch the 15:29 ... or hand around in Swindon until the next train at 21:05 - back into Melksham at 21:30 making my trip to Swindon to attend a 6 hour conference that's less than 30 miles from home last nearly 26 hours if I did "the whole" by rail.

Bus and Train

How about using the bus service from Melksham up to Chippenham and getting on the train there.   When the First group withdrew most of the train services to Melksham at the tail of 2006, they did alter the 234 bus route to provide a link at Chippenham Station - so I've looked up that option.  The 09:42 train from Chippenham gets me in to Swindon at 09:57 - it's an hourly service tomorrow but that timing is ideal.  Now - what aboout the 234?  Oh - that's not quite hourly and gets into Chippenham at 09:51 - 6 minutes after the train has left, or 08:39, giving me an excessive 63 minutes to change.  Total journey time - 08:13 (Melksham) to 09:57 (Swindon) - 104 minutes.  Distance 28 miles, average speed 16.15 m.p.h.

Is the return journey any better?  Yes - the !7;25 train gets to Chippenham at 17:38 - 4 minutes AFTER the bus has left - but there's "only" a 56 minute wait for the next bus - the 18:34 whcih gets me to my home town of Melksham 1t 18:56. Total journey time - 91 minutes.  Distance 28 miles, average speed 18.46 m.p.h


I really prefer to use public transport, but time is money (A motorist's time is 44p per minute according to the DfT» (Department for Transport - about)).  The AA tells me "42 minutes" and I'm sure I'll complete the journey, even allowing for jams on the A350, in less than the time that First would KEEP ME WAITING at Chippenham station!

Is First's public transport service designed to fail?
27432  Journey by Journey / TransWilts line / Re: FGW Says The Choice Is More Melksham Services Or Less Crowded Bristol Services on: March 07, 2008, 06:42:11 am
TBH (to be honest), decide - Frome or Salisbury!!!!

This thread is so badly named, Jim - FGW (First Great Western) might have been interpretted to say it's "more Melksham services or less crowded trains towards Bath and Bristol", and it might also appear at first glance to be schemes that benefit either Frome or Salisbury. But note - you run a 153 or 14x (with clearance) or even 150 (whos place is taken by a 14x running an extra diagram on a line it's already allowed to use) or extend a 158 /9 from Salisbury to Swindon and back and you provide a whole load of extra benefits.

a) You provide a more appropriate Melksham service to everywhere
b) You provide a useable Trowbridge to Swindon Service
c) You provide a useable service from Salisbury to Chippenham
d) You provide a practical service from Swindon to Salisbury
e) You strengthen services northbound from Salisbury to Warminster, Westbury and Trowbridge

f) With the Warminster - Great Malvern terminators duplicated by the new TransWilts service within a few minutes, you can divert at least two of those service to Frome to fill in serious gaps that we all acknowledge that town has.  Becomes hourly (at worst) in peak, 2-hourly (at worst) middle of day.

g) With the new service for items (b), (c) and (d) above - all of which are substantial travel requirements between major Wiltshire towns - you take away the need for rail passengers on these journeys to travel via Bath - diverting demand from Trowbridge - Bath (- Bristol) trains onto the re-instated direct service. So you won't be turning people away at Trowbridge and B-o-A as has been happening.

I make that seven immediate benefits, covering the whole county and many, many travel requirements that are not Melkshamcentric.  But I would agree that Melksham makes the biggest gain - after all, it has been the worst treated in the last two timetable changes.
27433  Journey by Journey / Heart of Wessex / Re: MTLS - FGW Investment Wont Benefit Frome/Weymouth Line on: March 06, 2008, 03:05:58 pm
The railway is very much a network so improvements in one area / on one line can have knock on effects on another.   From Frome's view point, I can see the following changes in the pipeline in the next 12 months:

a) Soon - the use of 3 car trains on the Cardiff / Portsmouth run will reduce overcrowding between Westbury, Trowbridge, Bath and Bristol - meaning that all trains on that route (including those that originate at Weymouth, Yeovil and Frome) will be less crowded. I judge there's around 20% more capacity being added.

b) From December '08,  the number of through trains from Frome to Bath and Bristol might increase from 9 to 11 - breaking up the three hour and a two hour gap in the present service.  Trains to leave (Monday to Friday) at 04:43, 07:04, 08:02, 09:26, 10:27, 12:39, 14:35, 15:27, 16:29, 18:27 and 21:20

Item (b) comes from the current proposals to provide an appropriate TransWilts service from next December - it's very much evens whether this will come off or not, so can I encourage everyone to let their local First Managers, local councillors, MPs (Member of Parliament), etc, know that they feel the Frome service should be improved (if indeed they do feel this way!).
27434  All across the Great Western territory / Across the West / Re: Message from MTLS on: March 05, 2008, 09:03:56 am
But I guess that's the point. There can hardly be many passengers if there isn't a service. I think Graham is campaigning for the passengers who used to be, but can't be any more.

Thank you, John.   That's exactly my point.   

In 2005, there were 120,000 journeys made. Yesterday, a total of about six people got off the train in Melksham. That's around 2000 per year - or it would be except yesterday was a good day - on Sunday 66% of trains were cancelled so the numbers were, I'm sure, lower.

Jim - would you care to join me in Melksham on a Saturday morning and talk to people in the street about their railway service, or perhaps join me at the "Party in the Park" in July where I'll be helping to man a stand?  Then you'll see the local call in this town alone - and we're just a fifth of the former use of the line.

The Cardiff - Portsmouth is high up the agenda too and is a big issue too.  And it's interrelated.   One of the pinch points in northbound from Salisbury ... and how better to provide extra capacity than to step back up to a more frequent service to Warminster and beyond.  But let me talk about my own area of experince, and you talk about your own area.  If you're annoyed about someone fighting their own corner and with full local and much wider support, and not to the detriment of other lines then - well - I'm not allowed to get personal here by my own rules  Grin

It's not just Melksham.

Trowbridge to Swindon - 95 minutes by direct bus.  40 minutes by direct train.
Chippenham to Salisbury - no direct public transport at all.
Swindon to Salisbury - over 2 hours by public transport for a 40 mile journey
The TransWilts links the five largest population centres in Wiltshire
27435  All across the Great Western territory / Across the West / Re: Message from MTLS on: March 05, 2008, 06:37:43 am
I don't think it's likely that they'll loose the franchise in the forseeable future either, Chris - however, it's hard to foresee too far ahead, stranger things have happened, and both Sea Containers and Connex have lost franchises in the past for different reasons.  One wonders if there was a strong policical case for the government to be seen to be doing something to calm the public disquiet about services, especially bearing  in mind that national politicians have to be re-elected from time to time and want their party to do well.

I note that More Train, Less Strain also write  """Whilst we welcome more rolling stock on the Portsmouth- Cardiff route, there are shortages 7 days a week on almost all lines, with trains on several lines such as Weymouth-Frome- Bristol and Chippenham -Melksham reduced to such low service levels as to make them practcially useless.""" (see - their home page) and that helps to put the Heart of Wessex and the TransWilts high up the agenda. I'm sure that FGW (First Great Western) want to implement a good solution to these issues. I know they (FGW) know what the solution is on the TransWilts at least, and that their solution for that also helps Frome, and the Salisbury - Warminster segment further too.
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