Train GraphicClick on the map to explore geographics
I need help
Waterloo Campaign
Travel & transport from BBC stories as at 05:55 28 Jan 2022
- The scramble for cargo aircraft as shipping costs soar
Read about the forum [here].
Register [here] - it's free.
What do I gain from registering? [here]
tomorrow - National Bus Meetings
04/02/22 - Call for Evidence GBR closes
04/02/22 - SMK award entries close

On this day
28th Jan (2007)
First posts on the Coffee Shop forum (link)

Train RunningShort Run
05:56 London Paddington to Didcot Parkway
06:14 Cheltenham Spa to Bristol Temple Meads
PollsThere are no open or recent polls
Abbreviation pageAcronymns and abbreviations
Stn ComparatorStation Comparator
Rail newsNews Now - live rail news feed
Site Style 1 2 3 4
Next departures • Bristol Temple MeadsBath SpaChippenhamSwindonDidcot ParkwayReadingLondon PaddingtonMelksham
Exeter St DavidsTauntonWestburyTrowbridgeBristol ParkwayCardiff CentralOxfordCheltenham SpaBirmingham New Street
January 28, 2022, 06:00:16 am *
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.

Login with username, password and session length
Forgotten your username or password? - get a reminder
Most recently liked subjects
[219] Porkway Partway
[113] Railway staff pawning people off with nonsense
[94] South Western Railways - reductions west of Salisbury
[38] Bonaparte's at Bristol Temple Meads
[36] Buses, trains, ferries. Where were Finn and I today, 26th Janu...
[23] Crossrail - further delay
News: the Great Western Coffee Shop ... keeping you up to date with travel around the South West
   Home   Help Search Calendar Login Register  
Pages: [1]
Author Topic: Heathrow to Melksham ....  (Read 3593 times)
Hero Member
Posts: 35506

View Profile WWW Email
« on: April 18, 2007, 02:42:55 pm »

I had, mentally, ruled out last Saturday for anything more that a day of travelling from Helsinki to Melksham;  a good job too as I could - all too easily - have been frustrated many times along the way.The day started well - indeed the Finnish leg was enjoyable, with a chance to see Helsinki (pictures) sandwiched between a trouble-free Metro ride in from the suburb where we had spend the week, and a comfortable bus ride - no wait, no queue, out to the airport. There's even a left luggage facility as the station that isn't so tied up with security that you wonder why you had bothered for a few hours.  And Finnair checked us in excellently, easily through and onto the flight.   Heathrow, Terminal one, Baggage - what a zoo!  We waited over an hour for our luggage, with (at times) up to 10 other flights also on "wait".  I think our flight was especially bad - we were told that baggage couldn't be got off due to a technical problem, but still the business class travellers got theirs in about half the time.  Odd, that ;-)

Heathrow to Melksham by public transport isn't great - coach to Chippenham and bus on home is about the best when you're flying in and can't rely on timing.  If you're really delayed, you might just get the 18:45 direct bus in the evening.

A Spring Saturday, a week after Easter with crowds returning from Holidays, so how was the ticket desk staffed?

Yes, you're right - queue control barriers and too few staff to handle the crowds, who clearly WERE expected.

The Bath bus, good on the operator, HAD been doubled up, with a second coach layed on and the two drivers sorting Swindon passengers on to one and passengers for other destinations onto the second bus. Loading, though, was less than efficient with the driver of our (non-Swindon) bus taking each individual he checked in arouns the back of the bus, one by one, to load their luggage, and the coach left some 15 to 20 minutes late.  An extra stop at Membury services (I don't know why - I've never had it happen before) added a few minutes and, to my suprise, the bus still went through Swindon even though all the passengers had been sorted ahead of time.  A straight "drive through" of course, even down to driving straight in to one end of the bus station and out of the other - but what a wasted opportunity to sensibly make up some time.

Chippenham, and we spotted the 234 heading on its loop up to the station as we drove into the town. "Oh - excellent - he'll be back past the bus stop in a couple of minutes".  We unloaded our case, thanked our driver, and hailed the 234 as he returned ... and STRAIGHT PAST he drove.

Now - I know the evening 234 service is subsidised by Wiltshire County Council, and I do know that the operator puts profit before passengers ... but you would have thought that the driver would have stopped (at the bus stop!), wouldn't you?  Well - he didn't.  The bus appeared to be empty and perhaps he couldn't be bothered.

We caught a taxi from the rank just a few yards away; by this point, I was less than inclined to wait a further 90 minutes or so for a bus that *might* stop next time, and we had an absurdly un-green and inefficient journey in a taxi that passed the bus we should have been on as he turned into Lacock.

So why wasn't the transport system able to transfer us from one service to the other neatly in Chippenham?  Lack of joined up thinking between operators?  No - that's not the case.  Our National Express Coach was operated, I kid you not, by the First group. And the 234 bus was also operated by First. I suspect from exactly the same depot.  Ah - "Shareholders First" - of course ...

Other Alternatives

By Train ... Heathrow Express to London, change to Swindon Train, Change to Westbury train.  Who's kidding who - the chance of timing your flight to catch the one daily connection into Melksham is slim.  Yes, you could get onto the bus at Chippenham and if you're lucky with the time of day the bus may call at the ststion

By Railair link to Reading ... then train.  The same comments apply.  And I do wonder why the coach hasn't been replaced by good connections at Hayes and Harlington.

By the daily direct coach .... see my main text

All of these require real stamina, though ... changes, waits, and tickets that you probably should buy on the day as you can't guarantee your flight being on time to take advantaged of advanced purchase.  Now here's an astonishing comparison.

By Taxi.  On our way up to the airport, we did this. 70 quid (we know which taxi firm to use), door to door at the time that it's needed.  By comparison, for 2 of us the coach back then taxi came to just over 50 quid and for 3 the taxi is cheaper.


Coffee Shop Admin, Vice Chair of Melksham Rail User Group, and on the board of TravelWatch SouthWest.
Do you have something you would like to add to this thread, or would you like to raise a new question at the Coffee Shop? Please [register] (it is free) if you have not done so before, or login (at the top of this page) if you already have an account - we would love to read what you have to say!

You can find out more about how this forum works [here] - that will link you to a copy of the forum agreement that you can read before you join, and tell you very much more about how we operate. We are an independent forum, provided and run by customers of Great Western Railway, for customers of Great Western Railway and we welcome railway professionals as members too, in either a personal or official capacity. Views expressed in posts are not necessarily the views of the operators of the forum.

As well as posting messages onto existing threads, and starting new subjects, members can communicate with each other through personal messages if they wish. And once members have made a certain number of posts, they will automatically be admitted to the "frequent posters club", where subjects not-for-public-domain are discussed; anything from the occasional rant to meetups we may be having ...

Pages: [1]
Jump to:  

Powered by MySQL Powered by PHP Powered by SMF 1.1.2 | SMF © 2006-2007, Simple Machines LLC Valid XHTML 1.0! Valid CSS!
This forum is provided by a customer of Great Western Railway (formerly First Great Western), and the views expressed are those of the individual posters concerned. Visit for the official Great Western Railway website. Please contact the administrators of this site if you feel that the content provided by one of our posters contravenes our posting rules (email link). Forum hosted by Well House Consultants

Jump to top of pageJump to Forum Home Page