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Author Topic: How is it doing? - Making use of the train to get to a meeting 35 miles away  (Read 2416 times)
grahame
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« on: November 16, 2019, 01:38:45 pm »

I have a meeting today in Stonehouse, Gloucestershire.  It's just an hour 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. and I need to be at the venue, a 10 minute walk from Stonehouse Station about 15 minutes before the meeting starts. Stonehouse is 35 miles from home; I'm a 20 minute walk from Melksham Station.

Question for my 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. meeting, 35 miles away, what time did I leave home?   What time do I expect to get back?

I left home at 09:15.  And I expect to get back at 18:25.  Yes, that's right 9 hours and 10 minutes away from home for a meeting that's just 35 miles away. Why on earth does it take so long??  It's a compound of three things:
1. The trains at Melksham are infrequent
2. I have to change trains, and trains where I change do not match up
3. The meeting has been arranged at a time that is not conducive to a train arrival from my direction.
The perfect storm!

In detail

09:15 from home... 09:35 at Melksham Station (and thank goodness I allowed time queue of 6 at the only ticket machine, with some people less than crisp in their selections!)
09:48 train Melksham to Swindon, arrived 10:18
11:16 train Swindon to Stonehouse, due 11:50
11:50 to 13:45 wait around including 10 minute walk

15:00 to 16:27 wait around including 10 minute walk to Stonehouse station
16:27 train to Swindon, arrive 17:04
17:36 train to Melksham, arrive 18:02
Walk home 20 minutes, arrive home around 18:25 (may stop at chippie or kebab shop on the way)

There is a later train arriving at Stonehouse 12:48, but no connection from Melksham. Similarly, there's a 15:27 departure, but no connection to Melksham. The journey can be done by other routes, but they are not permitted and the GWR journey planner doesn't even tell you how to make the alternative journey it just tells you it can be done with multiple tickets (and quicker too).

Net problem - Melksham has moved up from a useless service a decade ago to a service that's merely very poor now. Instead of 8 services each way on a Saturday, an intervals of 2 hours, at least  14 are needed to bring the service up to hourly.  Better connections would help too - especially "natural" ones (and the connection at Swindon is a natural one - indeed there are a couple of through trains this way on Mondays to Fridays).  It'll never be perfect, but if trains had run at the right time for me today, I could have had 4 more hours at home.

Passenger use on trains at Melksham has rocketed in past years.  34 people joined the train with me this morning, where 20 years ago that's about the number that would have joined trains in an entire week. If moving up from an unusable service to very poor service makes so much difference, just imagine what the usage might grow to if we had a train (or perhaps 2) each way per hour, with decent connections.  Melksham is no village - it's a town with a population of 25,000. Half the size of Chippenham, one twenty-fifth of the number of rail passenger journeys per annum. See how much latent demand there is.   See how much income the rail industry isn't collecting. See how much local residents are being help back.



P.S. Grabbing a lunch during my wait in Stonehouse as I write this; time not wasted, then.   My inbound train was 10 minutes late - not a problem as I hadn't risked timing it tight [[following train]] ... and was being caped at Gloucester due to train crew shortage.
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bobm
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« Reply #1 on: November 16, 2019, 03:12:26 pm »

Slightly better in January - in that you can leave later and still arrive very early

11th Jan
Melksham   10:21
Swindon      10:54 11:30
Stonehouse 12:02

Stonehouse           16:27
Swindon      17:01  17:33
Melksham    17:57
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TaplowGreen
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« Reply #2 on: November 16, 2019, 04:13:47 pm »

I have a meeting today in Stonehouse, Gloucestershire.  It's just an hour 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. and I need to be at the venue, a 10 minute walk from Stonehouse Station about 15 minutes before the meeting starts. Stonehouse is 35 miles from home; I'm a 20 minute walk from Melksham Station.

Question for my 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. meeting, 35 miles away, what time did I leave home?   What time do I expect to get back?

I left home at 09:15.  And I expect to get back at 18:25.  Yes, that's right 9 hours and 10 minutes away from home for a meeting that's just 35 miles away. Why on earth does it take so long??  It's a compound of three things:
1. The trains at Melksham are infrequent
2. I have to change trains, and trains where I change do not match up
3. The meeting has been arranged at a time that is not conducive to a train arrival from my direction.
The perfect storm!

In detail

09:15 from home... 09:35 at Melksham Station (and thank goodness I allowed time queue of 6 at the only ticket machine, with some people less than crisp in their selections!)
09:48 train Melksham to Swindon, arrived 10:18
11:16 train Swindon to Stonehouse, due 11:50
11:50 to 13:45 wait around including 10 minute walk

15:00 to 16:27 wait around including 10 minute walk to Stonehouse station
16:27 train to Swindon, arrive 17:04
17:36 train to Melksham, arrive 18:02
Walk home 20 minutes, arrive home around 18:25 (may stop at chippie or kebab shop on the way)

There is a later train arriving at Stonehouse 12:48, but no connection from Melksham. Similarly, there's a 15:27 departure, but no connection to Melksham. The journey can be done by other routes, but they are not permitted and the GWR journey planner doesn't even tell you how to make the alternative journey it just tells you it can be done with multiple tickets (and quicker too).

Net problem - Melksham has moved up from a useless service a decade ago to a service that's merely very poor now. Instead of 8 services each way on a Saturday, an intervals of 2 hours, at least  14 are needed to bring the service up to hourly.  Better connections would help too - especially "natural" ones (and the connection at Swindon is a natural one - indeed there are a couple of through trains this way on Mondays to Fridays).  It'll never be perfect, but if trains had run at the right time for me today, I could have had 4 more hours at home.

Passenger use on trains at Melksham has rocketed in past years.  34 people joined the train with me this morning, where 20 years ago that's about the number that would have joined trains in an entire week. If moving up from an unusable service to very poor service makes so much difference, just imagine what the usage might grow to if we had a train (or perhaps 2) each way per hour, with decent connections.  Melksham is no village - it's a town with a population of 25,000. Half the size of Chippenham, one twenty-fifth of the number of rail passenger journeys per annum. See how much latent demand there is.   See how much income the rail industry isn't collecting. See how much local residents are being help back.



P.S. Grabbing a lunch during my wait in Stonehouse as I write this; time not wasted, then.   My inbound train was 10 minutes late - not a problem as I hadn't risked timing it tight [[following train]] ... and was being caped at Gloucester due to train crew shortage.

Personally I would have taken the pragmatic approach and got in the car on this occasion. I (and I'm sure many others) simply don't have the luxury of spending 8 hours sitting around for the sake of a 1 hour meeting. It's a colossal waste of time.

We'd all like trains and connections to cater for every given scenario, however there are times when it patently isn't going to work and we are left to reflect on the fact that other transport options are available.

Alternatively, in most circumstances there is SKYPE, Conference calling, video conferencing or other options available rather than attending in person where logistics are an issue.

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grahame
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« Reply #3 on: November 16, 2019, 04:42:37 pm »

Personally I would have taken the pragmatic approach and got in the car on this occasion. I (and I'm sure many others) simply don't have the luxury of spending 8 hours sitting around for the sake of a 1 hour meeting. It's a colossal waste of time.

Beauty is that time wasn't wasted.   Have laptop, can work anywhere  Grin Grin

Car in Melksham for Lisa to make other use of it around town.

Quote
We'd all like trains and connections to cater for every given scenario, however there are times when it patently isn't going to work and we are left to reflect on the fact that other transport options are available.

Indeed.  But put the frequency up to hourly and you make a huge difference for a lot of people - not only in connections to other trains but also in meeting times.

Quote
Alternatively, in most circumstances there is SKYPE, Conference calling, video conferencing or other options available rather than attending in person where logistics are an issue.

You ... err ... haven't seen the mix and metrics of the group and I'm not sure - today - how the 40 or so people would have been able to meet, many for the first time, and interact purely online. In general, yes, these other options take precedence.

So - personally right to travel today. And the meeting overran like a railway build schedule ... lot of admin stuff before we even got started and the whole proceedings took twice as long as they should have done in the end.  So that's doubled the percentage of time actually in the meeting.
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grahame
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« Reply #4 on: November 16, 2019, 05:02:35 pm »

Quote
P.S. Grabbing a lunch during my wait in Stonehouse as I write this; time not wasted, then.   My inbound train was 10 minutes late - not a problem as I hadn't risked timing it tight [[following train]] ... and was being caped at Gloucester due to train crew shortage.

P.S.   So glad I didn't risk going 2 hours later and get into the meeting as it started.   That train was 20 minutes late ... a couple of folks walked in when it was (in theory at least) almost half over.
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