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Author Topic: A new era dawns on the TransWilts - 08 Dec 13  (Read 19590 times)
Lee
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« Reply #30 on: December 14, 2013, 09:31:22 am »

I've been travelling up and down the line for most of the week chatting with passengers (with, I have to say, a tremendous amount of support from FGW (First Great Western) staff at all levels, who very clearly want to see the improved services work) so I will answer a few of the points here if I may:

The car park was full, although I'd imagine mostly by shoppers...

If you are referring to Melksham station car park, experience so far suggests that it is being used almost exclusively for rail-related purposes. For example, the 0728 Westbury-Swindon & 1736 Swindon-Westbury peak services are said to be doing well, with reports of anywhere between 30-60 passengers per train, including reports into double figures at Melksham.

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.

There are blue walking route signs from Melksham town centre to the station, but these are a few years old now. I know that Wiltshire Council have ongoing plans to improve access to Melksham station over the coming months, and I will mention this to them on Monday.

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.

Yes, we have had a number of reports of this happening with the help screen. To my knowledge FGW have already performed 2 fixes over the past week, and I will include this latest occurrence in my report to them today.

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.

Experience so far suggests that the origin/destination mix has varied from service to service. However we shouldn't ignore the positive impact of improved direct links from Swindon/Chippenham through to Trowbridge/Westbury and vice versa. Of course, some will undoubtably point out that you could do these journeys by rail already, but what we are experiencing is a significant (in relative terms) proportion of traffic of this nature that is entirely new to rail - because passengers were put off by the time and effort that changing elsewhere entails. The fact that FGW have chosen to offer cheaper fares for direct travel clearly helps as well.

I'd agree with you though that we would like to see the gradual development of passenger numbers at Melksham continue from its initial starting base. CRP (Community Rail Partnership) publicity policy is designed to assist this process, with CRP letter/FGW timetable drops already completed to households in 5 areas of Melksham, with a sixth due to be completed today. This is on top of business visits, an ad in the Melksham Independent News, Tourist Information Centre assistance, a Melksham Area Board presentation, along with probably a whole host of other activities that I haven't mentioned that grahame will no doubt fill you in on.

That's not to say that we've neglected other areas of course - household deliveries have also taken place in Chippenham & Trowbridge (more to follow) and an ad has gone in the White Horse News in Westbury. People have been active in Swindon and elsewhere. As with Melksham, publicity policy in other areas will continue and evolve.

Well, I hope I've done my bit to add to the passenger numbers! Cool

Thankyou for visiting. Its been really encouraging to see a number of forum members, all of whom have been hugely supportive of the TransWilts cause over the years, try out the trains over the past week, and on a personal level I remain proud to be a part of it.
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grahame
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« Reply #31 on: December 14, 2013, 10:05:53 am »

Delighted you visited, BTline.   

Some comments ... bit illogical and not well formatted as I'm travelling ...

We expect to see traffic build rather more quickly from people who already use the train from time to time than from newcomers, so a build up in through traffic is likely to dwarf Melksham traffic at present, and indeed it makes a significant difference for Westbury / Trowbridge to Chippenham / Swindon passengers.

Various station and access improvements at Melksham are planned - I'll take a look at the underpass when I get back (in Germany at the moment!).  But, this might surprise you, big improvements already this month.  Fresh lick of paint on the shelter (pity someone flyposted a notice there which damaged the new paintwork - there are some idiots about!),  directions at the station to the town centre, a timetable much more appropriate to the line, freshly marked access and parking.  And there's more to come - something next week if it's on schedule.

The Marketing at Melksham has been laregly away from the station.  We need to get people there to the station in the first place, and Lee has described much of that.  We have "more of the same", line brochure, flyers in paper, program for the year 2014, all planned.   The interetsing question for Swindon and Chippenham is how to reach those people who are heading South (rather than Londonward or Bristolward).

It's never an ideal time to "launch" a product, but I could suggest that 8th December is almost calculated to be a tricky date.  But it does let any little teething problems get ironed out before people start their fresh new year of community, and long before leisure traffic builds up in the spring.

P.S. Timetable works in capacity terms with a 153 after electrification.  100 mph stock would slash two minutes ;-)

TransWilts is very much 'work in progress'.   There were things that could not be even started until we were 100% certain we would get additional trains, and they're still underway.   There are other things that couldn't be started / done until the trains arrived.   There are other things to wait until just after the Christmas season, or until we have people making more leisure trips ...
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anthony215
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« Reply #32 on: December 14, 2013, 11:29:48 am »

I agree this service is still a work in progress however I think many improvements are still to come including additional capacity in the form of 2 carriage dmu's perhaps class 150's or even 165/166 the latters 90mph capabilitiy and wide doors should help improve reliability by keeping them out of the way of the hst's and reduce dwell times.

We might even get a shock one day and the line through Melksham is electrified so we cna have a emu shuttling between Westbury and Swindon. Hopefully at some point a passing loop will be installed along the branch along with the junctions being modifed at either end which will further help improve reliability of the line.


At some point in the future I hope we see the proposed station @ Royal Wotton Bassett being constructed.
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grahame
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« Reply #33 on: December 14, 2013, 02:38:59 pm »

Anthony, things certainly don't stand still; we know already that trains and services will look very different in the South West in 2020 to they will in 2015, and perhaps will look different again by 2025.  Indeed the first interesting change comes when the Cheltenham Spa to London service becomes hourly, taking the fill in 15x units away from the Stroud Valley.  What will happen to those TransWilts trains which currently run through there?   Prior to this week, they were hard to "sell" south of Swindon, giving far too long a commuting day into there.  Now the 07:20 off Melksham has a commute balancing 17:36 from Swindon, and people can catch the 18:50 off Swindon having travelled up on the 07:48, or the 10:03, or a lunchtime train.

The eyes are, indeed, looking well ahead. But concentrating, in this formative period of the new service, in making that work.  We are learning a lot already, and it's at this early formative time that so much can be learnt and perhaps quickly acted on.

But an interesting thought. I'm travelling from Thun to Melksham at the moment.  Every train so far has been electric and has had Wifi.  Coming into Eindhoven in 20 minutes time now, our train from Venlo to Den Haag will be across the platform from the Maastrict to Amsterdam service, and a third to a half of the passengers will swap each way.  In 5 minutes both services will carry on.  Happens every hour; I don't need the timetable.   Now - can you imagine electric trains from Bristol and Swindon arriving into Westbury, doing a similar swap of passengers, before carrying on to Weymouth and Southampton?

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Btline
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« Reply #34 on: December 14, 2013, 06:12:44 pm »

All sounds great, I'm sure the service will be a success. I'll travel again in the future (from the Westbury direction) and give you marks out of ten for improvements / if I end up at Asda...  Tongue

I think the key signage that needs to be fixed is at Bath Road. I veered left instead of heading for the underpass.

Trust me, that 153 was struggling! I commuted for 7 years on sprinters, have spoken to drivers and have ridden in a cab of a 150 unit that couldn't go above 50 mph (on a long stretch of 75 mph railway). I can tell good ones from bad.

Upgrading to 100 mph units would be good if not just for the main line reliability. Think about it, even slashing 2 minutes would allow a call at a new station (WB?) without any impact, greatly increasing passenger numbers.
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gaf71
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« Reply #35 on: December 14, 2013, 06:22:36 pm »

I've not logged in for a while, but want to wish Grahame and all others involved, congratulations on helping to achieve this much improved service. Well done to all involved!
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grahame
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« Reply #36 on: December 15, 2013, 02:43:49 pm »

I've not logged in for a while, but want to wish Grahame and all others involved, congratulations on helping to achieve this much improved service. Well done to all involved!

Why - on behalf of the whole team - thank you. It feels very much like the start of a new, and much more enjoyable, useful and forward looking era with everyone pulling together.  The new era still brings much for us to do ... do look us up occasionally, add in the odd comment please as appropriate, and introduce yourself if you see any of us on the trains.
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grahame
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« Reply #37 on: November 12, 2022, 07:30:53 am »

But an interesting thought. I'm travelling from Thun to Melksham at the moment. 

Full circle - back in Thun this morning. But this time travelling further and seeing what's beyond!

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