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Author Topic: Looking forward Melksham Station and train services  (Read 2105 times)
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« on: July 12, 2019, 07:15:43 am »

Tuesday / Wednesday - I took a round trip with symmetry.  Let's look at that symmetry as to what could develop on the TransWilts line and at Melksham if it follows the Bicester example.

- I started from a station that closed in the Beeching Era and re-opened a couple of decades later. And I travelled to ... a station that closed in the Beeching Era and re-opened a couple of decades later.   

- The line at my starting station always remained in situ but with little using it, and the station at the other end is on a section of line that was also open / in situ but with little using it. 

- The stations at both ends of my journey are now served by a useable through train service - their presence and justification being bolstered by through passengers.

- The stations at both ends of my journey have bus stops but for almost every intermodal journey, a significant walk that is not specifically waymarked is necessary to transfer from trains to buses. 

- The stations at both ends serve population catchments of around 30,000.

I travelled from Melksham to Bicester Village.  And bearing in mind the symmetry, some of the more recent developments at Bicester Village provide an example of what we might see in the future at Melksham.

* The line through Bicester Village has been redoubled - it had dropped when there was hardly any use of the line to just a single track, but is now back to double

* From scarce facilities, Bicester Village now has a rather nice station building, a cafe, staffed enquiry desk and much more.

* Services have stepped up through various infrequent service patterns; Bicester Village now has a half hourly service in each direction

* Passenger journey numbers are nearly 2 millions per annum at Bicester Village.  And services no longer terminate at the next regional hub - they carry on through.

I grant you that Bicester Village generates a high proportion of its traffic through the outlet centre that it serves - as a guestimate about half of the people waiting on the platform when I passed through were there for centre shopping purposes. On the other hand, there's a second (also very successful) station in Bicester - at Bicester North.

Ten years ago, Bicester Village station ("Bicester Town" as it was known) was closely parallel to what Melksham is today, but goodness how it changed over the following 5 years. Just imagine how Melksham can change for the better over the next five years.

By the end of 2024, Melksham Station could have double track, a welcoming cafe and station building, staff to help passengers.  Trains every 30 minutes to Chippenham and Swindon, perhaps carrying on through to Oxford and beyond.  Every 30 minutes via Trowbridge and Westbury with alternate trains onwards to Southampton Airport and to Yeovil or Weymouth or Taunton.  Fanciful?  No - it's been done elsewhere - and you have only to look to Bicester for an example that's just across in the next county.

Coffee Shop Admin, Vice Chair of Melksham Rail User Group, on the board of TravelWatch SouthWest and of RailFuture
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« Reply #1 on: July 12, 2019, 09:32:11 am »

Next step would be to find land & attract a shopping outlet village - and hey presto! Wink
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« Reply #2 on: July 12, 2019, 09:51:40 am »

Next step would be to find land & attract a shopping outlet village - and hey presto! Wink

I'm sure you saw my comments about the "Village effect" in the original post - but that that's just half the story.

We already have our "out of town department store" within a couple of hundred yards of the station - "just" need to take a couple of fence panels down to allow people to walk between Station Approach and Foundry Close to open the walking route. Major hotel being added on the same site - approved through planning, build in the next 18 months.  Major redevelopment including things to attract visitors between the station and the town bridge (i.e. within a 9 minute walk) and well developed plans and indeed work underway in sections to reopen navigation from the Kennet and Avon Canal at Semington through to the Thames at Abington which will bring considereable extra transits.

Bicester Town/Village numbers were 60,000 10 years ago, now they're 1,900,000 ...
Melksham numbers currently 75,000 ... I'm suggesting that in 10 years they could be ...

Not looking to a "me too" outlet village - but as you see plenty that's on the drawing board, and to that you need to add the plenty of extra traffic to be generated just to bring the station up to a level with other similar towns. In itself, that is a many-fold increase on current numbers.


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