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Author Topic: London, Reading and Didcot connections to / from Melksham  (Read 1271 times)
grahame
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« on: January 09, 2017, 12:24:16 PM »

Question: When does a 10 minutes late train result in a two hour plus delay to your journey?

Answer: When you miss a connection into an infrequent service.

Although TransWilts is generating a lot of traffic, until  Wink we have an hourly service there's going to be people who won't use it for longer distance travel because of the risk of a long wait, and will drive up to Chippenham instead.

Here's my suggestions for reducing the chance of being caught by a long wait you didn't want ... comments welcome as this may be promoted a bit wider (with the proviso that we don't want to worry people - 98% of the time it works well!)

*** On travelling to Melksham via Swindon, from London, Reading and Didcot

Connections at Swindon for Melksham, Trowbridge and Westbury from trains coming from London are not usually held if the incoming train from London is late.  That's because most of the TransWilts passengers are local rather than making the connection, and because any delay would delay later journeys and also other trains that the TransWilts then got in the way of.

Incoming delays happen on only on a small (but irritating) number of occasions.   Best way to avoid holdups:

* Take the first available train to Swindon, even if it's not the one offered by the journey planner, and change at Swindon. By taking an earlier train, you've much less chance of missing the connection even when the main line is disrupted.

* If you are on a delayed train from London that's going to call at Chippenham, stay on that train to Chippenham and change there. This avoids a rapid dash from platform 4 to 2 at Swindon, and the train from London will always leave first as it's faster than the Westbury train.

* If you find that you have missed your connection at Swindon, take the first available train to Chippenham.

* At Chippenham, if you have missed the Melksham train DUE TO DELAYS OF ANOTHER TRAIN, ask the platform staff for assistance. If there is another train for Melksham within about an hour of your request, they'll probably ask you to wait for that, but if not they will usually be arranging taxi(s), a coach or seats on the x34 bus. 

Note - a road alternative will not normally be offered if the next train's due within the hour. It takes time to arrange alternatives, and the journey is also much slower by road; there is little point in makeing such arrangements if there's a train not too far behind.

Note - unless authorised to do so by GWR staff, do not take a taxi or bus yourself and expect to be able to claim the cost back.  GWR have bulk purchase deals, and also they will use all the seats in a taxi so that the cost to them is shared.

Note - a road alternative may not be offered if it is impractical for GWR to do so - for example if there are deep snow drifts which have closed both railway and road.

*** On travelling from  Melksham to London, Reading and Didcot via Swindon

Sometimes the train from Melksham is delayed ... occasionally by long enough to miss connections

* Take the train from Melksham and change at Swindon rather than at Chippenham, even if the online journey planner suggests a Chippenham change. There are many more trains from Swindon to Didcot / Reading London than there are from Chippenham, and there's a customer help desk at Swindon which is almost always staffed.

* If the information screen at Melksham station is not displaying relevant information and you don't have access to a mobile device / app / other source of data, press the "information" button to speak to a customer service representative to check on your train and report the fault.

* If your train is delayed or cancelled and it's not clear what alternative plans have been made, use the information button for help.  Bear in mind that the operators work to a script and are not based nearby, so you'll need to tell them where you are travelling and let them inform you that the train is delayed / cancelled before they will offer a solution. Some of the geographic data available to customer services has errors, and you should apply your local knowledge if the solution offered is impractical - for example, you may be catching a Trowbridge to Swindon train, and be advised to use the Trowbridge to Swindon bus which (however) does not go within 2 miles of Melksham Station.

* If you have an advance ticket and your connection at Chippenham / Swindon misses, you may use the next available train even though your ticket is marked "booked train only". It's a good idea to ask the train manager on the train from Melksham to endorse your ticket if that train' delayed, as it will help inform the staff on your following train why you're not on the one you originally booked.
« Last Edit: January 09, 2017, 03:28:11 PM by grahame » Logged

TransWilts Rail - Linking North to West and South 9 times a day. [see here]
ChrisB
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« Reply #1 on: January 09, 2017, 12:36:05 PM »

My only suggestion is to your last point - it would make very good sense to seek out the guard (if your Melksham trains run with them?) or at least a staff member at Swindon to get your ticket endorsed that the booked train was late & connection missed. This avoids potential problems with revenue protection staff further on the journey where they may well not be aware of that disruption.

Yes, they call call their ops people to check, but a number are rather reluctant to do so, and would take the easier way of asking you to pay again!
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grahame
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« Reply #2 on: January 09, 2017, 03:32:14 PM »

My only suggestion is to your last point - it would make very good sense to seek out the guard (if your Melksham trains run with them?) or at least a staff member at Swindon to get your ticket endorsed that the booked train was late & connection missed. This avoids potential problems with revenue protection staff further on the journey where they may well not be aware of that disruption.

Yes, they call call their ops people to check, but a number are rather reluctant to do so, and would take the easier way of asking you to pay again!

Good idea, Chris - added in italics.

Yes, we have (and need for ticket sale and checking!) Train Managers.  The TVMs at Trowbridge and Melksham don't take cash, and even though you'll often see a queue at the solitary Melksham machine, you'll also find that the train manager is selling tickets all the way to Chippenham / Trowbridge and sometimes beyond.
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TransWilts Rail - Linking North to West and South 9 times a day. [see here]
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