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Author Topic: A new era dawns on the TransWilts - 08 Dec 13  (Read 23880 times)
bobm
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« on: December 08, 2013, 12:54:08 »

The day has finally arrived.  A mixture of 30 passengers, rail staff, local civic dignitaries and the media were assembled on the platform at Melksham for the first of the new services.


The departure board sprung into life about 10 minutes before the train was due thanks to some quick work on the telephone by the assembled FGW (First Great Western) officials



Around half those on the platform joined the service doubling the number already on the train who had boarded at Westbury and Trowbridge.


Service pauses for the obligatory photographs

We left Melksham a couple of minutes late and then paused briefly waiting to join the main line at Thingley Junction while a late running service from Weston-super-Mare passed and we arrived in Swindon three minutes down - but no-one missed a connection as a result.


No platform sharing today - TransWilts are using Platform 1 at Swindon


A new message for the screens

Several 'real' passengers then joined the service for the return to Westbury via Melksham

"DM" is Down Main - not Down to Melksham!


Nice to see the timetable posters have been updated

Undoubtedly a day for celebration - and a proud day for one set of parents waiting on the platform as their son was driving the train.  However in a sense the real work begins now - the two years covered by the funding will fly by.  The service has to prove its popularity day to day.  Certainly the enthusiasm is there, it is now a case of turning that into passengers.
« Last Edit: December 08, 2013, 13:30:46 by bobm » Logged
IndustryInsider
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« Reply #1 on: December 08, 2013, 13:05:12 »

Fantastic stuff and huge congratulations to Graham and others that have put in so much of their time over the years, with numerous setbacks, to achieve today's pivotal moment.  I really hope (and expect) that the service will be a roaring success and become even better over time with a later evening service to and from Swindon on weekdays the obvious way of improving it further. 

I look forward to taking a trip down there myself sometime soon.
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« Reply #2 on: December 08, 2013, 13:23:50 »

I can't do more than wholeheartedly concur with II's comments.  Many congratulations to Graham and all involved in putting 7 years of wrong to right.
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« Reply #3 on: December 08, 2013, 17:19:01 »

It's good to see Graham in the publicity photo line up.  He deserves the recognition after all the hard work.  And well done to all the rest of the team.  I hope the community now use the service so long and hard fought for.
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Btline
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« Reply #4 on: December 08, 2013, 22:26:21 »

Excellent news. Can't believe it has finally happened!
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grahame
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« Reply #5 on: December 08, 2013, 22:30:04 »

I hope the community now use the service so long and hard fought for.

Today was ... significantly busier than we might have guessed.  Santa was sold out - we limited ticket sales for safety reasons and had to turn possible customers away.  The launch service was busy.  But - so significant - the intermediate service did well too.  Up to 33 "regular customer" - that's excluding our team members in the afternoon, on a train that didn't exist last week. A good number were localish traffic, and a good number were connecting through.

On behalf of all of the TransWilts team here in Wiltshire, thank you for your words of congratulation.  Good to have ... 8 people all good long and hardworking ... on Santa; and that's just a tip of the iceberg. A fantastic day - a time indeed to say "thank you" - from me too everyone; at times I'm embarrassed by just how much people do to help - and that includes (in the present tense) First Great Western and Wiltshire Council.  It's one team.

Yet as well as seeing the dawn of a new era, we should be (and are considering) the growth of that era.  "Use it or loose it" is already the soundbite.   We don't know exactly where we're headed (this is the first essentially new train service I have helped promote), so we've already pasted in a review and planning meeting on 30th December.  Those of you who are involved in voluntary groups will know what an extraordinary date and commitment that is in the middle of the Christmas break.

I could write about these plans - and ongoing stuff even from today (Sunday) - but really I need to sleep tonight ... and prepare for another big day in the morning peak.   I'll be taking my own first "real" use of the service tomorrow afternoon - half past four from Melksham, as the first leg of a long distance journey that would have been taxi or lift had it been last week.
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JayMac
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« Reply #6 on: December 08, 2013, 22:34:43 »

I, too, was there to witness the start of the much improved service between Westbury and Swindon. I boarded the first of the new services at Westbury, along with Lee from this forum, a couple of other passengers and a few FGW (First Great Western) 'suits'. Numbers swelled noticeably at Trowbridge and off we trundled up the single line toward Melksham, tucking into the complementary mince pies and mulled wine laid on by FGW.

As you will have already seen, there was a welcoming committee at Melksham! I completed a round trip up to Swindon and back down to Westbury and then headed off to the west country for the afternoon.

I have a fair few photos from the day that I'll post tomorrow (bit too tired to edit and upload tonight) including more of Santa, from later in the day, where I again joined a TransWilts service from Swindon down to Melksham and then another (!!!) back up to Chippenham before heading home to Bristol.

My congratulations to all those who have campaigned tirelessly over the past seven years to see this day dawn. Well done all!!!

Thanks must also go to Wiltshire County Council, for the funding, and to First Great Western, as the operator. Also thanks to those FGW staff who were operating the TransWilts services today.
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« Reply #7 on: December 08, 2013, 23:15:36 »

From the BBC» (British Broadcasting Corporation - home page):

Quote
Westbury-to-Swindon improved train operation in service

Wiltshire Council will pay the subsidy for the new services using a Department for Transport grant

An expanded train service between Westbury and Swindon has gone into operation.

Train operator First Great Western is running an additional six trains in each direction as part of a partnership with Wiltshire Council.

The subsidised Trans Wilts Rail Service forms part of the authority's Local Sustainable Transport Fund project.

The scheme is funded via a Department for Transport (DfT» (Department for Transport - about)) grant of ^4.25m, supporting the service for three years.

The plan also includes an additional four trains on Sundays throughout the year, with at least one service over Christmas connecting with the existing Westbury-Weymouth service in each direction.

Councillor John Thomson, deputy leader, said the expanded service would bring "real social and economic benefits" to the people of Wiltshire.

But he said it was "important local people use and support the service to ensure it is viable into the future".
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bobm
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« Reply #8 on: December 08, 2013, 23:18:09 »

Not sure if that qualifies as a wrong use of a stock photo.  There were diverted HSTs (High Speed Train) along the TransWilts today - but not with that exact livery!  Grin

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« Reply #9 on: December 09, 2013, 08:08:45 »

congratulations to everyone for all of the hard work put in so far to get this service back up and running. Now  its over to the passengers , staff and supporters of this line to make sure the new services are a sucess.

Hopefully in  12 months or so another look could be made to see whether or not a later service from Swindon should be provided after 2200 to allow passengers coming back on later services from London to eget a direct train to Melksham.
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grahame
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« Reply #10 on: December 09, 2013, 14:38:13 »

Hopefully in  12 months or so another look could be made to see whether or not a later service from Swindon should be provided after 2200 to allow passengers coming back on later services from London to eget a direct train to Melksham.

Some further pictures and comment from me about yesterday - and this morning's commuter services - at
http://www.wellho.net/mouth/4219_TransWilts-train-services-up-from-2-to-8-per-day.html

And my first business trip as a true user of the service to get from "M" to "T" will be on the 16:31 this afternoon.

On 30th December, we have a review meeting to see how it's gone so far, to set out a community business plan for the next year, with a look further ahead too ... and who knows what may happen.   But for the moment, let's concentrate on making it work.  We're looking to reach the people who aren't familiar with train travel - and on that basis much of the activity is way from the trains and stations ...
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Tim
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« Reply #11 on: December 09, 2013, 15:04:28 »

Well done Graham (and everyone else in the team that made this happen)

I wish the line every success.
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Brucey
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« Reply #12 on: December 09, 2013, 21:52:59 »

Congratulations to everyone who made this happen.  The photographs definitely make it clear that "normal passengers" are using the service, not just those involved in the campaign or rail enthusiasts.

Some further pictures and comment from me about yesterday - and this morning's commuter services - at
http://www.wellho.net/mouth/4219_TransWilts-train-services-up-from-2-to-8-per-day.html
Do I get bonus points for spotting the back of bignosemac's head?
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grahame
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« Reply #13 on: December 09, 2013, 22:49:37 »

In actual fact the Cheltenham train was a three car so the trans wilts stuck out beyond the platform apparently messing up the signals ...

Yep, I heard about that; we're a close knit user's community.  To some extent we can say "teething troubles", and we expect a few; two trains in the bay has been an unusual manoeuvre for the last seven years.  I'm sure someone's taken a look at whether the procedures are all ok these days (I'm not sure what's changed in recent years since it was commonly done) .

Apart from our own team here, this has rather passed under the enthusiast's radar.  That's possibly because it's not seen as a reopening, but rather as 'just' a change in service level.   So no hoards of bashers.  As far as I'm concerned, those enthusiasts / bashers are very welcome, but it's there choice as to how they see it.  Much more important the general traffic as there's orders of magnitude more of it, and it's there for an economic / wider social reason which strengthens the "retain / improve" case which we must never forget!
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John R
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« Reply #14 on: December 09, 2013, 23:00:15 »

Grahame
I'm sure many contributors will be keen to know how numbers are (hopefully) building up. Will you be able to pass on any usage figures in due course, or other indication of how traffic volumes are building? (A bit like the excellent Tarka (Line from Barnstaple to Exeter) Rail passenger stats, maybe.)
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