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Author Topic: TransWilts - celebrating the conclusion of Newbury engineering disruption  (Read 850 times)
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« on: October 11, 2018, 02:21:04 pm »

Today is the final day of around 50 since February when the TransWilts local passenger train service has been decimated by engineering diversions - with only 7 of the normal 18 trains a day scheduled to call at Melksham, and even those 7 proving unreliable, it has been quite remarkable how stoic the passengers have been.  Bad weather, staff shortages, infrastructure failures, lack of trains, broken down trains, and late running freight trains have also caused disruption over the first nine months of this year.  When the trial service was intoduced in 2013, we were warned that in a year or two we would have a period of heavy engineering and we we asked if we wanted to wait - thank goodness we did not, as even the most pessimistic forecast didn't suggest that the low point year would be as late as 2018.

But we have things to celebrate.

We grew to love the single carriage trains that allowed us to have a trial services, but we outgrew them.  Earlier this year, replacement trains with 2 and 3 carriages replaced them, allowing us to start growing again.

Our short platform at Melksham - where single door operation of trains was resulting in significant delays - has been extended so that the full three carriages can use it with all doors opening, making for a significantly faster operation.

A new Community Rail Officer - Sophie Martin - started with TransWilts this week as part of the restructuring to increase the future effectiveness of the CRP, and I look forward to seeing it continue to grow.   Passenger number using Melksham station have increased from 3,000 to 75,000 journeys per annum and with the team including Sophie, with Paul Johnson in the chair supported by Peter Blackburn and Horace Prickett on the board, a target of 250,000 journeys per annum should be reached in just a few years.  More passengers in that sort of volume should mean more trains - up to hourly, and trains running through beyond Westbury to Salisbury and Southampton, and perhaps beyond Swindon to Oxford.

Crew training on newly arrive trains has been a huge resource hog on GWR and should be completed by the end of next month - again, good reliability news, and further trains will arrive in the area to help ensure a robust stock situation once electric trains are running to Newbury.

There is one further set of engineering for passengers to be aware of - from close of service on Saturday 22nd December 2018 to start of service on Friday 5th January 2019, trains will be replaced by buses from Chippenham to Westbury. This is to allow the trackwork on the approach to Westbury station to be completely renewed. Timetable details will be published on the GWR site in early November. 

A big "thank you" to everyone for your patience through these engineering works.

Coffee Shop Admin, Vice Chair of Melksham Rail User Group, on the board of TravelWatch SouthWest and of RailFuture
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