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Author Topic: Vision for the next decade(s) - Melksham  (Read 647 times)
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« on: February 14, 2020, 07:34:25 am »

I have been asked for some thoughts for planning ahead for Melksham on where public transport should be going in years ahead.   Sanity check / thoughts, anyone, on what is an informed personal set of thought thus far, though very much written to fit with local sentiment and neighbourhood policy.

Vision for public transport provision – Melksham Area – for coming decade(s)

Discussion document only version – 14th February 2020

Public transport is not only for families without cars.  It's also for the young, the old, those who cannot drive and those who don't have the car available because their partner has it. It's for those who want a drink, those who are too tired to drive, those who have no-where to park at the far end, and those who simply prefer to let the train (or bus) take the strain. But it needs to work, round trip. It's for the environment too.

Major Service groups

1. Train service at current station, "no brainer" frequency and length of service.
2. Interurban bus service to main neighbouring towns, "no brainer" frequency and length of service.
3. Interurban bus service to other neighbouring towns, "plannable" frequency and length of service.
4. Town bus services looping residential and business areas to centre and interchanges to above groups, "plannable" frequency


Interurban Bus services running every 30 minutes from Melksham Town Centre to Bath, to Trowbridge, and to Chippenham, every hour to Devizes, and every 2 hours to Bradford-on-Avon, Corsham and perhaps Calne. Service levels could be increased in future years to meet demand in association with social changes brought about in conjunction with Carbon friendly and congestion drivers.  Chippenham and Trowbridge, and Bath and Devizes services to be through services calling in Melksham to cater for through traffic too.

Regional Train services running every hour to Chippenham and Swindon (and ideally onward to Oxford), and also every hour to Trowbridge and Westbury and probably onward via Warminster and Salisbury to Southampton. Direct services to Bradford-on-Avon, Bath and Bristol Temple Meads should be added in the future but only in addition to hourly services via both Chippenham and Trowbridge.

Interurban bus services on Bath to Devizes and Chippenham to Trowbridge flows will call at both the Railway Station and the Market Place as they pass though the town, and will also provide for local journeys from those hubs to other parts of the town.  It is envisaged that the Chippenham service will run via Beanacre, the Trowbridge service via Semington, rather than around the new Melksham bypass, but should the Melksham community grow significantly to infill between the new bypass and the current town, Chippenham services may divert via an interchange between the rerouted A350 and the A3102 Calne Road.

Town bus services will connect town centre, campus, supermarkets, other shops, consumer businesses (e.g hairdresser, bank), leisure, sport, schools, medical, and interchange hubs. They will run in loops, in all likelihood reversing direction in the middle of the day to minimise average passenger journey time especially of time sensitive travellers.  Longer loop sections will arrive at the railway station around 10 minutes before a train calls, then service nearby areas before calling at the station for a second time just after the train has called.

Town bus routes will look to serve areas not served by the interurban buses, with an objective of having a daytime bus stop within 100 metres of 90% of residences and an evening bus stop within 200 metres. They will run every day, through residential areas (new ones must be designed to be porous / let them though) during Monday to Friday daytime and around link roads (shorter transit times but further to walk to the stop) early morning, late afternoon, evening and weekend.

The Melksham Station Masterplan includes a cafe, information and toilets at the station, improved bus facilities (including personal needs break facilities for drivers) there and should have someone on hand at busier times; exact details of that latter (volunteer or paid, cafe staff or formally with a transport role) to be determined.  Details from TransWilts

Practical walking, cycling and mobility vehicle routes to the transport hubs (Market Place and Station) should be provided and promoted, with secure storage provided an both. Consideration should be given for new technologies should they be legalised such as electric scooters and Segways. Car parking should (continue to) be provided at the station, including for stays of several days. Short term pick up and drop off faclilities should be provided at both the station and the Market Place, including the ability to wait legally if picking up from delayed inbound services. Luggage, wheelchair / pushchair facilities should be provided.

Pre-booking should not be a requirement of use of any of the services and facilities mentioned above which in all but the most exceptional of circumstances should have sufficient capacity to carry all traffic offered in comfort.

Ticketing and fares should be clear, simple and interchangeable between various pieces of public transport, with through fares across interchanges even between modes.

Frequency definitions

Occasional – a service that runs to meet a specific passenger flow at a certain time of day.  Examples are school services and the (currently) daily National Express coach to London, or bus to Calne.

Plannable - a service that passengers on a corridor can plan around for the most part, though they may need to move journeys significantly forward or backward. Examples are the current train every 2 hours to Swindon or Westbury.

No Brainer – a service that's frequent enough to be the automatic choice. Examples are the current mid-morning services from Melksham to Chippenham, Trowbridge and Bath, and parts of town service 14

Turn up and go – a service that's so frequent that passengers don't bother to look up the timetable. No examples in Melksham; in Bath, the service from the Bus Station to the Royal United Hospital is in this category.


Practical cycle routes and bus routes through residential areas call for porous design linking new housing areas for cycles, pedestrians and buses rather that areas with "red line" boundaries – in effect little ghettos

Nothing in the above removes any bus vehicles beyond the current withdrawal of duplicated competitive vehicles with overcapacity that comes in April. But the existing vehicles and drivers can and should be tuned to take into account current and future requirements that are not yet met in additions to the established flows.

Detail of potential routes, etc, for the next few years – see .  Again very much a discussion document

At the time of writing, funding for buses ("restoring of lost routes") and rail planning is on the political agenda, and indeed £571,000 has been made available to Wiltshire Council for next year.  It is my early understanding that 3 years of funding comes with this package. I am not yet clear if this funding added to public transport will be matched by an equal and opposite reduction to that budget by the removal of other discretionary funding now that central government is picking up more of the bill.  I have been alerted to 2020/21 being a very tight year for bus support in Wiltshire.
« Last Edit: February 14, 2020, 07:41:45 am by grahame » Logged

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