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Author Topic: TransWilts leases Wiltshire Council land at Melksham Station for Melksham Hub  (Read 853 times)
grahame
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« on: July 01, 2020, 06:31:03 pm »

Announced today (1st July 2020) by Wiltshire Council that the TransWilts Community Interest Company has signed a lease for the car park area on Station Approach, Melksham and the adjacent land (opposite the station) which was formerly a builder's yard.

TransWilts will continue to offer car parking for rail users previously offered by Wiltshire Council. The car park will in due course be extended, and will be generally available and not just on rail business. Rapid electric car charging points (on a national system) will be available and cycle and (free) motor cycle areas. A toilet, cafe and Piazza will be available - planned for late autumn.  Access across to the station will be improved, where there will be additional disabled parking spaces and short term (30 minute) free parking.

TransWilts is a not-for-profit company. Car parking charges are being set below those of other station car parks in Wiltshire and any income after operational and land lease costs will be re-invested in further improvements at Melksham Station.

The Chair and Vice Chair of the Melksham Rail User Group were briefed on plan details on 30th June.  MRUG welcomes continued improvement of facilities at Melksham Station and looks forward to working with TransWilts for further improvements. Passenger numbers have risen from 3,000 to 75,000 per annum in a decade, and should rise to 250,000 in the next decade. The improvements that the lease announced today allows are just one step in a process that will enable the station to handle this further considerable traffic rise for the good of the economy of Melksham and the surrounding area.

MRUG meets online on 8th July at 16:00 - all are welcome. See http://www.passenger.chat/23632 for meeting details. We will also cover our response to the Melksham Neighbourhood Plan, and helping people back into using safe use of publci transport - trains, buses, and joined up journeys.

Contact details for TransWilts may be found at https://transwilts.org

TransWilts and MRUG are both members of the Community Rail Network





TransWilts write "Our journey is well underway. And our community is driving the project. You wanted a café at Melksham Station — it's coming. You wanted a toilet facility — it'll be here soon. More and varied parking at the station? There'll be free short-stay parking and disabled parking. We'll have free parking for motorbikes and more stands for cyclists. We're introducing competitively priced tariff car parking, cashless parking and EV charging. And this is just the beginning."




Press release from Wiltshire Council

1 July 2020
For immediate release
 
 
Wiltshire Council partners with TransWilts to improve Melksham station
 
 
Wiltshire Council has entered into a partnership with TransWilts Community Rail to improve facilities and the car park at Melksham station.
 
This new project will see the lease of the council-owned Station Approach car park to TransWilts, which will take on responsibility for the car park, and in turn make a number of improvements to the facilities at the station.
 
TransWilts will make a number of changes to the car park to improve the facilities for the benefit of station users, including installing a café on the site, and an extension to the parking areas. It will also introduce parking charges on the site to make the running of the facilities sustainable.
 
Cllr Bridget Wayman, Cabinet Member for Transport, said: “We’re delighted to work with TransWilts on this project to improve the facilities for rail users and the people of Melksham.
 
“This community partnership will help to improve public transport provision in Melksham, and indeed the rest of Wiltshire, as the TransWilts line links the county from Royal Wootton Bassett in the north to Salisbury in the south, and on to Swindon, London, and the south coast.”
 
Paul Johnson, Chairman TransWilts said: “We are grateful to Wiltshire Council for making the site available, enabling us to provide the Melksham Hub as the initial phase of an overall masterplan for the station.
 
“Construction is being funded with grants from local stakeholders, GWR and the Community Rail Network, and the work will commence in July 2020.”
 
To find out more about the exciting plans for the station, please see https://melkshamhub.co.uk/
« Last Edit: July 01, 2020, 06:55:14 pm by grahame » Logged

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Phil
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« Reply #1 on: July 01, 2020, 07:50:59 pm »

When they quoted plans for "late autumn", did they put a year against that?

Apologies if this comes across as being overtly cynical, but I've been burned once too often by similar promises (Melksham's Community Campus being opened in 2012 being just one such example...)
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grahame
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« Reply #2 on: July 01, 2020, 08:27:15 pm »

When they quoted plans for "late autumn", did they put a year against that?

Apologies if this comes across as being overtly cynical, but I've been burned once too often by similar promises (Melksham's Community Campus being opened in 2012 being just one such example...)

I was informed of the plans yesterday and "late autumn" is my wording; a specific month later in 2020 was mentioned, but with a proviso that some supply chains are sticky at the moment due to Covid and it could slip a bit.    Number plate recognition should be installed and operational well before the autumn - see https://melkshamhub.co.uk/car-parking/ for their dates and charges.
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grahame
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« Reply #3 on: July 01, 2020, 09:49:13 pm »

Here you go, Phil - from https://melkshamhub.co.uk/our-plan/

Quote
As a result of the Covid-19 crisis material availability is difficult to forecast and the build programme is tentative.

Lease starts July 2020 and we mobilise on site. Construction starts late July early August 2020. Southern Car park including 2 EV charging points opens early August 2020. Northern car park construction and opening September/October 2020. Café refurbishment, fit out and café operator appointment September/October 2020. Piazza exterior depends on further grant funding early 2021
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grahame
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« Reply #4 on: July 02, 2020, 06:41:31 am »

Press release from Wiltshire Council at http://www.wiltshire.gov.uk/news/articles/melksham-station-hub
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« Reply #5 on: July 02, 2020, 07:56:20 am »

Here you go, Phil - from https://melkshamhub.co.uk/our-plan/

Thanks, Graham. So it looks like it could indeed be a reality by 2023 then  Cheesy

Disappointed that there doesn't seem to be any provision for cycle hire though. Whilst the additional bicycle storage alluded to is to be applauded, I should have thought that there would be an excellent opportunity to establish a small cycle hire (and maybe spares and repairs) unit on site as well, and thus encourage people to explore the area under their own steam. Maybe later once the site has started to settle in.
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grahame
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« Reply #6 on: July 02, 2020, 08:29:49 am »

Disappointed that there doesn't seem to be any provision for cycle hire though. Whilst the additional bicycle storage alluded to is to be applauded, I should have thought that there would be an excellent opportunity to establish a small cycle hire (and maybe spares and repairs) unit on site as well, and thus encourage people to explore the area under their own steam. Maybe later once the site has started to settle in.

There is a suggestion ...

https://melkshamhub.co.uk/cycles/

Quote
We are also exploring cycle hire. Imagine. Arrive by train and discover the surrounding areas by bike! Melksham is a great starting point for visits to National Trust locations and the Kennet & Avon Canal. Using the bike hire app you would be able to rent a bike from and return to our Melksham Hub. We expect it to cost £2.50 per hour with a maximum £15 charge per day. We’ll keep you posted.

... however, I don't see anything in the plans that would provide the space for such an operation.  I may be out of date, but I think one other (office) unit on Station Approach is out of use at present - maybe step only access and no forecourt directly outside, so not suitable.   The big garage that used to be at the rear of the yard taken over by TransWilts is being separated off and is NOT part of the lease, so potentially that could be available as an independent cycle hire place / base but removing it from the land TransWilts are taking appears to rule it out from their initial plans.
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« Reply #7 on: July 03, 2020, 11:26:20 am »

The introduction of car parking charges raises the interesting question of how much it discourages modal shift - or even reverses it, particularly for shorter journeys.

Now by definition anyone affected by this has a car, so it is only the marginal cost of running the vehicle and travelling which is relevant. So a car journey to Chippenham for Melksham, round trip 15 miles, might cost around £2 in fuel.  So why would anyone with a car (that is available enough to spend all day in the station car park) take the train at £4.90? It's unlikely to be a faster journey to work, given the time to park up and allow a few minutes before the train, and obviously the journey time options are much more constrained.  (I'm assuming that environmental concerns are a relatively minor factor for most people, when compared against cost, journey time and convenience.)

Well if they have to pay for parking at Chippenham, that cost is saved, which may mean the journey is actually cheaper. But if you then have to pay an extra 50% on top of the fare for parking then suddenly the equation tips dramatically in favour of driving.

For longer journeys the extra cost is less of an issue, the speed of the train starts to make a difference in journey time, and I presume travelling to somewhere like Swindon the parking cost is much higher. So even with the extra 2.50 a day it makes sense.

So will this change discourage short hop commuters. Or were they all driving anyway if they could? And will the extra spaces encourage more people to use the train to places like Swindon who don't now because there's no guarantee of a space available when the arrive each morning?  Genuine questions - this isn't meant to be a car park charge bashing post!
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grahame
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« Reply #8 on: July 03, 2020, 01:35:40 pm »

A further press announcement - this from TransWilts:

Landmark Day for Melksham Station

The 1st July saw a major step forward in plans to transform Melksham Railway Station with the community rail organisation TransWilts CIC entering into partnership with Wiltshire Council.
 
The group has signed a lease with the council to take over land around the station to develop additional car parking, a café and community hub and transport interchange.
 
The station, which is served by trains between Swindon and Westbury, has seen the number of passengers increase by more than 20-fold to 75,000 a year since services were improved at the end of 2013 – an increase which needs station facilities to match.
 
In improving the car parking, charges will be introduced but set at a lower level than other station car parks in the area with any profits being invested back into the station facilities.
 
Cllr Bridget Wayman, Cabinet Member for Transport, said: “We’re delighted to work with TransWilts on this project to improve the facilities for rail users and the people of Melksham.“This community partnership will help to improve public transport provision in Melksham, and indeed the rest of Wiltshire, as the TransWilts line links the county from Royal Wootton Bassett in the north to Salisbury in the south, and on to Swindon, London, and the south coast.”

Paul Johnson, Chairman TransWilts said: “We are grateful to Wiltshire Council for making the site available, enabling us to provide the Melksham Hub as the initial phase of an overall masterplan for the station. “Construction is being funded with grants from local stakeholders, GWR and the Community Rail Network, and the work will commence this month.”

To find out more about the exciting plans for the station, please see -  Melksham Hub Website ( https://www.melkshamhub.co.uk/ )









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grahame
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« Reply #9 on: July 03, 2020, 01:42:16 pm »

The introduction of car parking charges raises the interesting question of how much it discourages modal shift - or even reverses it, particularly for shorter journeys.

Your post and this question is worthy of a thorough answer, and indeed you are not alone in asking.  I have been  aware of TransWilts' plans and the reasoning behind them for a while, and I will write up a separate post going into the logic as I understand it later this afternoon; nothing much "prepared" as I only knew final details earlier this week.
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grahame
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« Reply #10 on: July 03, 2020, 05:33:54 pm »

In further answer to

The introduction of car parking charges raises the interesting question of how much it discourages modal shift - or even reverses it, particularly for shorter journeys.

Yes, it does. However, you may consider that we have been "lucky" to have had free parking at Melksham Station up to this point, and "someone's got to pay for it" - especially as the landlord who bought the site in 2009 did so with the intent of it being "self financing" (see http://www.passenger.chat/23760 for my writeup about that time).  Having the parking free in the first three years of the improved service was certainly a big marketing help, but station users predominantly arrive there on foot or by getting a lift, and I estimate that rail passenger journeys to or from cars that park and will need to pay only account for 10% to 12% - so not quite the big worry it would be if this was "Melksham ROAD" or "Melksham PARKWAY" Station.

From today's TransWilts press release - see above:

Quote
The group has signed a lease with the council to take over land around the station to develop additional car parking, a café and community hub and transport interchange.

Car parking charges are an emotive issue in Melksham - there's a big furore just at the moment in the town as Wiltshire Council re-impose charges of 40p an hour after a lockdown holiday, with lots of people threatening to move their business from local shops, and calling Wilts Council greedy, with the town council offering a rebate on the first hour through ocala traders.  Not a new scheme, but a revitalised one - let's see how it works. But it's an unfortunte time to bring in charges at the station.

In practise, I suspect that few people who park at Melksham Station take the train just one stop - I think they tend to be walkers, and that people who ride to Swindon will still park at the station.   Those headed for connections may well review their trips and park elsewhere - I would expect to see a few driving to Bradford-on-Avon for Bristol, and to Chippenham for London - it will end up costing them more, but the convenience of more trains and no need to change will tip thme away from supporting us in Melksham.

There are people who park at Melksham Station for nearby businesses - such as the care home just across the railway, and businesses on station approach.  Although the current car park says "for rail use only", I suspect that there are those who use it for other purposes.  And that conditions is being removed, I understand.

But looking positively -

Quote
Lease starts July 2020 and we mobilise on site. Construction starts late July early August 2020. Southern Car park including 2 EV charging points opens early August 2020. Northern car park construction and opening September/October 2020. Café refurbishment, fit out and café operator appointment September/October 2020. Piazza exterior depends on further grant funding early 2021

If cafe facilities are available the month after the car park, or even 2 months after, I suspect that the customer-negative of paying to park will be counterbalanced by the customer-positive extra facilities.  Should the parking payments shart to the timescale suggested on their web site, but the other facilities slip, you can expect a rather poorer receptions and some pretty cynical commenst.

Now - "Transport Interchange" - does that mean buses to the station once again - YES PLEASE, and if the brief early days Melksham Rail Link Bus performance is repeated (and it could be) that will soon be bringing more passengers to the station than are arriving in cars that park and pay.  It needs good connections at both ends of the day, it needs to be reliable, and it needs a day return on the bus to be about the same price as a day's parking. But the bus and car parking are predominantly different markets so there's no abstraction problem
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« Reply #11 on: July 03, 2020, 06:31:47 pm »

Interesting, and thank you for such a comprehensive reply.

The one thing that disappointed me was the fact that the council had to buy the land off (effectively) the government to safeguard it for future station use. Whilst I applaud the council for taking what was a far-sighted decision in 2009, if we are to have a joined up transport strategy in this country, surely former railway land should be made available to councils for transport purposes for a notional sum. (Admittedly there would have to be covenants to stop it being sold on or leased to a supermarket, DIY shed or other more income generating purpose, and any income received in the meantime returned to the treasury by some mechanism.)
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« Reply #12 on: July 04, 2020, 06:03:18 am »

Interesting, and thank you for such a comprehensive reply.

The one thing that disappointed me was the fact that the council had to buy the land off (effectively) the government to safeguard it for future station use. Whilst I applaud the council for taking what was a far-sighted decision in 2009, if we are to have a joined up transport strategy in this country, surely former railway land should be made available to councils for transport purposes for a notional sum. (Admittedly there would have to be covenants to stop it being sold on or leased to a supermarket, DIY shed or other more income generating purpose, and any income received in the meantime returned to the treasury by some mechanism.)

BRB (Residuary) was tasked with getting rid of land that would never be required for operational railway purposes at any future date, and get as much money for it as they could.   And that meant no covenants that would reduce its value.

Indeed, top marks and "thank you" to Wilts Council for buying it at the time - both then and with a decade's hindsight you - to safeguard it for long term transport purposes. They foresaw the possibility of improved public transport at Melksham where the folks who allocated the land parcel to BRBR did not.
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« Reply #13 on: July 04, 2020, 02:44:42 pm »

Some additional photos - two from inside the building and the view across the land covered by the lease.





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