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Author Topic: A new era dawns on the TransWilts - 08 Dec 13  (Read 19591 times)
JayMac
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« Reply #15 on: December 10, 2013, 01:23:27 am »

Do I get bonus points for spotting the back of bignosemac's head?

Nope. That's not me looking at one of Santa's helpers. I was on the Santa special as it headed back to Melksham, but stayed standing (mostly out the way) in the rear coach.
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« Reply #16 on: December 11, 2013, 04:06:02 pm »

From The Melksham Independent News

Quote
A LOCAL rail campaigner is encouraging people to make use of the new, improved rail service to Swindon from Melksham.
 
The TransWilts line, which runs from Salisbury to Swindon via Melksham, has offered an improved service since last Sunday.
 
First Great Western^s timetable has an additional six trains a day in each direction Monday to Saturday which will allow Melksham train users to have to reach more destinations more frequently.
 
Rail campaigner Horace Prickett said, ^The recent announcement of an enhanced service across the Transwilts Line is really good news for connecting Wiltshire, especially its only Cathedral City, and Melksham with its largest conurbation, Swindon, by rail.  The service will also mean a better deal for those wishing to travel to Melksham, Chippenham and Swindon.  Currently getting between these stations is a nightmare, involving long detours and  changes of train.
 
^This sad state of affairs is in spite of the fact that a through line between them already exists and was saved from the Beeching Axe some 50 years ago by determined local pressure groups. TransWilts service can become a viable and vital lifeline directly connecting  Salisbury, all five towns of west Wiltshire including Melksham, Chippenham  and Swindon.^
 
Horace continues, ^Transwilts will be making a direct service between Salisbury, Westbury, Trowbridge, Melksham and Swindon an economic proposition.
 
^That the Transwilt Service can be made a success can be seen from the Severn Beach line.  The populations served by the Severn Beach and Transwilts lines are similar. Since the introduction of the full Severn Beach service, passenger numbers have grown exponentially and the annual subsidy has been slashed and is about to disappear altogether. It would therefore seem that Wiltshire Council has made the right decision and has a one and only chance to make the Transwilts a success.  It is now up to the public to support the service or lose it.^
 
However, he warns that local people must use the new services, otherwise they could be taken away in the future when they are reviewed saying, ^When the current short-term subsidy runs out in three years, if traffic is not sufficient, the line will close.^
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grahame
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« Reply #17 on: December 11, 2013, 05:19:12 pm »

From The Melksham Independent News

Quote
A LOCAL rail campaigner is encouraging people to make use of the new, improved rail service to Swindon from Melksham.
 
The TransWilts line, which runs from Salisbury to Swindon via Melksham, has offered an improved service since last Sunday.
 
First Great Western^s timetable has an additional six trains a day in each direction Monday to Saturday which will allow Melksham train users to have to reach more destinations more frequently.
 
Rail campaigner Horace Prickett said, ^The recent announcement of an enhanced service across the Transwilts Line is really good news for connecting Wiltshire, especially its only Cathedral City, and Melksham with its largest conurbation, Swindon, by rail.  The service will also mean a better deal for those wishing to travel to Melksham, Chippenham and Swindon.  Currently getting between these stations is a nightmare, involving long detours and  changes of train.

....

Excellent ... and I hope there are some pictures too ;-) ... I don't think they appear on MIN news feeds online such as this one, and I know they have some!
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bobm
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« Reply #18 on: December 11, 2013, 05:25:53 pm »

More from Melksham Independent News

Quote


Councillors Simon Gibbons and John Thomson, Graham Ellis of the trans wiltshire rail group and Matthew Goulton of FGW (First Great Western) watch the train pull in to Melksham. Driver Simon Gibbons looks out of the cab.


The new train service on the TransWilts line ^ which increases the number of trains calling at Melksham each day from four to 16 ^ launched on Sunday 8th December.
 
First Great Western^s timetable has an additional six trains a day in each direction from Monday to Saturday ^ meaning there will be one train approximately every two hours, including early morning and evening services in both directions.
 
There will also be an additional four trains on Sundays throughout the year, with at least one seasonal service connecting with the existing Westbury to Weymouth service in each direction.
 
The subsidised Trans Wilts Rail Service forms part of Wiltshire Council^s Local Sustainable Transport Fund project. Funding for the project comes after the council successfully bid for a Department for Transport (DfT» (Department for Transport - about)) grant of ^4.25m which will support the improved service for three years. Further information about the project can be found at www.connectingwiltshire.co.uk.
 
Graham Ellis from the TransWilts Community Rail Partnership said, ^Santa was on the 17:30 from Melksham to Swindon ^ which First extended to three carriages for the day.  A great time was had by all, in celebration of the new service, which brings the line into the modern railway age. The new Saturday morning services are ideal for shopping trips to Swindon, and there are good onward connections to London and many other places, all at super offpeak fares.^
 
John Thomson, cabinet member for highways said, ^The improved Trans Wilts Rail Service is an important part of the council^s commitment to ensuring local people have better access to public transport.
 
^The service will bring real social and economic benefits to the people of Wiltshire, but the funding is only for three years so it^s important that people use the service now so it can be sustainable into the future.^
 
First Great Western managing director Mark Hopwood said, ^First Great Western has worked hard with Wiltshire Council with the support of the local user group to secure these additional services.
 
^We are delighted that the agreement to operate has been signed by FGW and Wiltshire, which will enable us to provide an extra six trains a day in each direction. This is great news for passengers, allowing both commuters and leisure travellers a good value alternative to taking the car.^

NB: Caption as shown on the website, despite being incorrect....
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grahame
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« Reply #19 on: December 11, 2013, 07:05:53 pm »

NB: Caption as shown on the website, despite being incorrect ...

Oh we get all sorts - my favourite of the day - "TransWilts Community Rain Partnership" - we'll be appealing for the end of the drought next year  Grin
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« Reply #20 on: December 12, 2013, 10:21:04 am »

I travelled on the 14.14 from Westbury yesterday, one of about half a dozen passengers, and while I appreciate it is hardly likely to be the busiest train of the day I was truly appalled - at neither Westbury or Swindon, apart from the times on the departure sheets, there was absolutely no publicity whatsoever for the increased service, and as far as I could see nothing on any of the intermediate stations.
;
 
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Lee
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« Reply #21 on: December 12, 2013, 10:25:34 am »

Big timetable poster on Platform 2 at Westbury, with another slightly less bold one in the Subway. The former may only just have gone up, admittedly, but the latter has been there for days, with a similar one up at Melksham.
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« Reply #22 on: December 12, 2013, 01:30:41 pm »

Mike,  It's incredible how much publicity is needed to reach people!  We've had the issue with the Melksham Campus that I'm involved with - 12 different information flows and still people say "we didn't know / hear about it".  And there has had to be a tradeoff between putting timetables out early, with people turning up for trains not yet running, and having a rather more gentle start than we would have liked in the first week or two.

All the standard industry 'stuff' is there - and some posters too.   Editorial in local papers, local radio, local TV. Whole page adverts in some local papers.  Information in some TICs (Tourist Information Centre), libraries, town halls, more to follow.   Web sites such as this, twitter feeds, blogs. House to house deliveries.   Connecting Wiltshire Personal Journey planners telling people about it.

Gosh - I sound like I am defending what has been done; that's NOT my intent.   My intent is to give you an idea of where we are, to tell you we are active, and that we are not complacent either.   There's much more to be done yet, too.  7 more boxes of literature arrived with us yesterday - that's topping up the first seven that had run out.  You may not see much activity at stations, and wonder "what the *** are they up to" ... lots of that is because we're not looking to abstract rail users from other services, but rather to bring in new user from other means of transport such as cars.   And the stations are not the place to promote such use.

We're at the new, thin end, or a wedge at the moment.   Learning by talking to travellers - both newcomers, transfers, and how it's effecting previous users too. And wedging in further with marketing.   People need to feel the comfort of continuity and repetitiveness before they will buy in, and so we're reinforcing the message in lots of ways.  And the DfT» (Department for Transport - about), via Wiltshire Council, are providing 2 years of seed grant under LSTF (Local Sustainable Transport Fund) because they know just how long the update ramp may be.   Make no mistake, we're just at the start if a curve
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« Reply #23 on: December 13, 2013, 04:35:59 pm »

First let-down today:-
18 32 Westbury to Swindon and 20 12 return Cancelled Traincrew shortages.  Cardiff to Portsmouth route also affected for this reason.
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grahame
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« Reply #24 on: December 13, 2013, 04:52:49 pm »

First let-down today:-
18 32 Westbury to Swindon and 20 12 return Cancelled Traincrew shortages.  Cardiff to Portsmouth route also affected for this reason.

Noted ... Passengers on the 18:32 have an alternative service about an hour later; the 20:12 is somewhat more problematic as the last train of the day, and may bring some ^20 business for the taxi drivers at Chippenham Station.

Pity ... if everything runs tomorrow, we'll have a 98% running record for the first week, with (to my knowledge) around 94% running on time or quite close to it.  On Monday morning, a track circuit failure at Bradford Junction held up the first train by just under 10 minutes. One morning, the 08:49 off Swindon got held at Thingley for a freight train coming up the other way, (seriously enough for one user trying it for the first time to decide it was unreliable and declare he wouldn't use it again), and one lunch time there was an issue at Swindon which delayed the departures (and, I'm sorry, a couple of main line trains!).

For the first week, not bad - a couple of learning experiences which can be things to be aware of in the future, hopefully with a view to avoiding them happen again. 

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Lee
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« Reply #25 on: December 13, 2013, 05:35:23 pm »

Bus replacement will operate in place of both the 1832 & 2012 services, calling at all stations.

Also, the passenger who declared that he wouldnt use it again has been back on board since after his employer urged him to stick with it.
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« Reply #26 on: December 13, 2013, 06:58:01 pm »

Also, the passenger who declared that he wouldnt use it again has been back on board since after his employer urged him to stick with it.

Full marks for that employer.  They sound like the kind of business I want to support.
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« Reply #27 on: December 13, 2013, 10:36:18 pm »

It was a woeful day across the FGW (First Great Western) network. I happened to pick this day to visit the Melksham line! Roll Eyes Cheesy

The packed 10.45 from Paddington departed on time but soon the brakes were slammed on and we crawled through West London.
We finally shuddered to a stop at Slough. Dozy passengers on the train started leaning out of the windows, thinking it was Reading (it was ~20 minutes after leaving Pad to be fair!) leading the panicked guard to make an announcement. Passengers on the platform, who were expecting the Oxford service, attempted to board, leading to further delay as the doors had to be checked.

We were then abruptly shunted onto the relief lines and crawled at the lower top speed to Twyford, with other HSTs (High Speed Train) speeding past on the main lines. After Twford we were shunted back much to our relief. The breaks were slammed on again for no apparent reason at Didcot (perhaps the Oxford had overtaken us when we were on the reliefs and was having to wait - but why?) and we crawled through the station.

On arrival at Swindon just under half and hour late ( Angry ), the network was in meltdown. Digital Doris was apologising for one train after another and most trains on the screen were 25 late.

I took the 12.49 from Swindon, which didn't turn up until after 1pm. According to the apologetic guard, this was because of a problem at Bradford UA which was causing "chaos" at Westbury. About 11 people got off the incoming service. I and six others boarded. At Chippenham five more boarded. At Melksham two people and I got off, with two getting on. Not massive, but not bad for an off peak service.

The info screen was displaying an error message, so I and another passenger had to press the info button to ask when the next train was. The car park was full, although I'd imagine mostly by shoppers...

The stock running the service was a clapped out 153 that had clearly not had much maintenance (probably ex ATW (Arriva Trains Wales (former TOC (Train Operating Company))) or CT). The train was definitely struggling to stay at 75 mph on the main line with the engine sometimes spluttering out. We lost time in between each station.

Arriving just after 1.30, around 15 minutes late, I just had enough time for a cup of tea before the return. However, disaster almost struck. Despite normally having a good sense of direction, lack of signage meant that I took a wrong turn on the way back to the station and ended up at ASDA. Signage needs to be made clearer to encourage visitors from the town centre.

After a dash across a dual carriageway and along a muddy verge, I arrived at the station. Luckily the 2.30 was running 10 minutes late, according to the screen, which had now fixed itself. Unfortunately, a few moments later is just switched off and went blank! This screen needs sorting ASAP.

The 2.30 arrived - one person got off, I got on; there were five others on board. It seems to me that most people are using the route as a quicker way to Swindon and not many using it for Melksham. Presumably this will improve.

At Chippenham were we arrived even later due to the unit struggling (I doubt the later services were cancelled due to traincrew shortages, more like the 153 finally gave up!), I got off, no-one got on.

After another cup of tea in Chippenham, I took the 3.25 back to London. This train arrived late, so I happened to see the next departure to Melksham. Four people boarded. I didn't spot how many other were onboard.

The 3.25 train was full and standing and seemed to crawl for most of the way, arriving late at about 5pm. I really don't know why they bothered upgrading the GW (Great Western) line to 125mph - the trains barely reach to 125 before the next red signal. When you consider that Chiltern get to Banbury in 50 minutes. Which is further than Oxford (plus on a congested 2 track, 100 mph railway), you wonder what's going on with FGW.

Overall verdict: encouraging. Good timetable, hopefully can become hourly at some point with some facilities at Melksham station. Hopefully 100mph stock can be used eventually to slash the journey time on the mainline.

Well, I hope I've done my bit to add to the passenger numbers! Cool
« Last Edit: December 13, 2013, 10:44:12 pm by Btline » Logged
Southern Stag
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« Reply #28 on: December 14, 2013, 12:25:20 am »

http://www.realtimetrains.co.uk/train/P77069/2013/12/13/advanced
http://www.realtimetrains.co.uk/train/P77070/2013/12/13/advanced

It doesn't seem like the services were losing time between stations to me. The fact is at prolonged periods of 75mph running the 153 will seem like it's working very hard, but that doesn't necessarily mean it's struggling.
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« Reply #29 on: December 14, 2013, 08:59:53 am »

Indeed the up service managed an average of 70moh stop to pass from Chippenham to Rushey Platt, which is not bad at all. Though if on time the following HST (High Speed Train) would have been snapping at its heels by then, so no time to dilly-dally.
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