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Author Topic: Grand Opening of the new car park area at Melksham HUB on Fri 28th Aug.  (Read 1374 times)
grahame
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« on: August 02, 2020, 04:17:42 pm »

From the TransWilts CRP at the tail of last week

Quote
We will be holding a Grand Opening of the new car park area at Melksham HUB on Fri 28th Aug.

The event will give the public an opportunity to meet GWR, TW, yourselves [that's MRUG in this context]  plus KB and local businesses and encourage them to sign up to be a volunteer.  It'll be 10am-2pm and we hope to generate as much publicity as possible so would be grateful if you could let people know as well.

More details promised this week - though a month out we still have good time for local publicity.
Update - 3rd August 2020 - plan changed and this may no longer be a public event
Update - 4th August 2020 - postponed due to 'updated government COVID-19 guidance'

The latest MRUG newsletter in now online at http://www.mrug.org.uk/mrugnews_202008.pdf  - 16 pages packed with useful (to some!) information:
Quote
Inside this issue:
Report from Melksham Maker's Market
Consultations
Around Melksham Quiz
Santa Trip 2020
Take a trip by train to Swindon
The Melksham Hub - Car Parking and Cafe News
A review of August public transport for Melksham - what is running Map of Melksham Public Transport
Public Transport Travel advice and map of Melksham
Complete timetables - trains, buses and coaches
Dates for your diary
MRUG to become Melksham Transport User Group?
The Sunflower Hidden Disability Scheme
Train running report for July 2020

Frankly, too much information and I'll be using it as a source of short local media articles so that the stories are drip fed to people rather that coming in a short, sharp, and quickly forgotten downpour.

For the record, MRUG website at http://www.mrug.org.uk updated too.   Well actually a bit more than "for the record" - many updates, including a newcomer's page at http://://www.mrug.org.uk/newcomer.html that is designed to work really well on phones and other devices (please send me a message if it doesn't).

Opportunity taken to rebalance of links and material as we move from Red to Amber in promotion - and as we move from a really reliable and robust service which we had when main line train were infrequent back to the old stories such as cancellations as expresses get diverted, trumping the local service.
« Last Edit: August 06, 2020, 10:55:08 am by grahame » Logged

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grahame
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« Reply #1 on: August 03, 2020, 03:33:13 pm »

-
« Last Edit: August 03, 2020, 04:06:06 pm by grahame » Logged

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« Reply #2 on: August 03, 2020, 05:27:56 pm »

-

Members may wonder at that post with the detail edited out. Plans for the event have changed, and the publicity poster received for sharing earlier today is no longer appropriate, and has been deleted.
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« Reply #3 on: August 04, 2020, 04:42:47 pm »

Once again, our hopes, raised almost to fever pitch, have been dashed on the rocks of despair. The nation aches for some - any - sort of public event with dignitaries, presentations, even speeches. All have fallen prey to the unseen killer lurking in our midst, the dreaded Covid 19. First Glastonbury, then Wimbledon, now this. Is there no end in sight?
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« Reply #4 on: August 06, 2020, 11:16:50 am »

Once again, our hopes, raised almost to fever pitch, have been dashed on the rocks of despair. The nation aches for some - any - sort of public event with dignitaries, presentations, even speeches. All have fallen prey to the unseen killer lurking in our midst, the dreaded Covid 19. First Glastonbury, then Wimbledon, now this. Is there no end in sight?

You write in jest, but an explanation is owed (and I will admit that frustration needs to be released from that fever pitch of expectation)

These are strange times about what we can and we can't do.  And on top of working out what we can and can't do, we need to work out what will work for others that we're doing things for - to be effective in the "new normal".  Here’s a picture from some IT training I ran yesterday (yes, I know I’m supposed to be retired) surrounded by some of the outdoor elements around us!



Car boot sales and temporary markets were back on several months ago, and Melksham's Tuesday market re-opened in the Market Place has restarted - small, but growing a little.  The Maker's Market, in the same place on the last Saturday of the month has restarted too, and on the 25th July the Melksham Rail User Group was there to help inform people about public transport use and availability (see http://www.mrug.org.uk/mrugnews_202008.pdf for detail and report).  Exceptional times - face masks (yes, we had disposable masks to hand out), sanitiser on the booth, social distancing, big banner with GWR's ""Let's travel safely this summer"" message.  Even Isambird Kingdom BrunOwl was there, wearing a mask.

The day met its objectives; after a slow first hour, time flew but the visitor density was appropriately thin. A great deal of associated publicity helped us get the public transport message "Let's travel safely this summer" out and to help people learn how and where.




So when - a week ago today - we (at MRUG) heard about an event with a similarity of layout and attendance at Melksham Station on 28th August, and TransWilts wrote "we hope to generate as much publicity as possible so would be grateful if you could let people know as well", we included early publicity in our August newsletter which was published over the weekend.  Further details promised for "next week" - now this week - duly arrived on Monday morning; looked to be a good outline, poster included, which I shared at http://www.firstgreatwestern.info/coffeeshop/index.php?topic=23858.msg292296#msg292296 . Press deadline for the Melksham Independent News very close (perhaps passed) - however, chatting with the editor on another matter nothing to do with transport, I managed to slip in a piece telling of the positive aspects of the new car parking arrangements, and including a reference to the "Grand Opening".  Then ... a phone call at the tail of the afternoon to tell me that the event was no longer going ahead in the way it had been planned.  A email the next morning confirmed.

I am 100% supportive of doing everything very, very safely - not taking unnecessary risks, nor running illegal events even if the rapidly cobbled together law is a bit of an ass in detail at times at the moment. But  I do feel that the risk assessment spoken of should have been carried out before the green button was pressed - "please publicise" and invites all around, and not in the following hours. Looks unprofessional; lots of wasted time and confusion, lots of people informed, etc.  For sure, if we have a change / local lockdown in Melksham in the lead up to the event, I would have expected it to be cancelled / postponed.

28th August may not be entirely cancelled (I'm not clear) - but not a public event - so I will remove it from the various diaries; I am going back though the newsletter and adding strike-thoughts to make it clear that the community/public is no longer to be welcome at what may be a publicity-distanced press call [done].  And a "letter to the editor" in the next "MIN" can clarify any replacement details so that people don't turn up on 28th.

The Grand Opening of the Melksham Hub Car Park is a sprat to Glastonbury's whale and Wimbledon's shark. But the safer for it, and it was an opportunity to inform people. I'm sure TransWilts plans were that it would attract people.  The choice of middle-of-the-day on a workday was interesting, and the lack of "and take a [free?] train ride" element felt like an extra opportunity not taken.  Why not open in time for people to see the stalls and catch the 10:02 ... or open at 10:15 or 10:30 so people can arrive on the train?

A new event has been proposed for the opening of the cafe on/by 31st October, and I think Saturday is better than Friday. With the Maker's Market on the last Saturday, there may be a conflict there if it happens, but is is just provisional so just pencil in my diary. Personally I have 3 things that day now, and TransWilts cannot be the priority over a cruise already booked and paid for - but we will probably stop in when dropped off by taxi to catch the 11:31 to Southampton if the public are welcome.
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« Reply #5 on: August 07, 2020, 05:33:49 pm »

It's all very well for you. I've been stuck in the blinking office.

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« Reply #6 on: August 07, 2020, 09:19:06 pm »

Who responds when you ring the bell?  Men in white coats?   Grin
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« Reply #7 on: August 07, 2020, 11:05:11 pm »

Ringing of the bell is always accompanied by the phrase "Thank you, good morning", even in afternoons.
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« Reply #8 on: August 08, 2020, 06:44:12 am »

Once again, our hopes, raised almost to fever pitch, have been dashed on the rocks of despair. The nation aches for some - any - sort of public event with dignitaries, presentations, even speeches. All have fallen prey to the unseen killer lurking in our midst, the dreaded Covid 19. First Glastonbury, then Wimbledon, now this. Is there no end in sight?

I feel your pain.

As if the suspension of the Pullman restaurant service wasn't bad enough, we then had the postponement of the Olympics, Euro 2020 etc and I think we, and indeed the entire World, had pinned our hopes on this event to salvage the year, but now once more we are pitched headlong into despair.

Is there a light, however faint, at the end of the tunnel? (Or is it a weekend closure for engineering works?)  Wink
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grahame
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« Reply #9 on: August 08, 2020, 08:52:31 am »

For the last week, I have had various out and about errands ... popped near to Melksham Station each day to get a flavour of what's going on / where we are, without timing it in any way in particular.  It's wonderful that on three of the five days, I was able to see a train call - a far different situation from what we had a decade ago.


Monday 3rd August 2020.
Observed 13:39 train call (Swindon to Westbury)
6 got on and 8 got off
No work underway at new hub
Zero cars in car park


Tuesday.
At around 13:25 ... 7 waiting for the 13:39 to Westbury
No work underway at new hub
Zero cars in car park


Wednesday. 
Observed 15:39 train call (Swindon to Westbury)
5 got on and 12 got off
Spoke with two individuals who were waiting; both young and casual but on their way too / from care jobs.
Lack of 07:04 from Westbury a severe issue for one of them. 05:18 too early for his shift / lots of waiting around; 07:37 from Westbury means he's late to take over.
No work underway at new hub
Three cars picking up passengers off the train
Zero cars in car park


Thursday.
Middle of the day, no-one at station
Work underway at new hub
Three cars in car park
Also at around 17:45 - already 5 people waiting for 18:01
One car remaining at (after work on the new hub area had finished)
18:01 "delayed" ... log at http://www.mrug.org.uk/record.html shows it at 18:13
I did not wait around to observe people off train; I would have exceeded my free half hour


Friday. 
Observed 13:32 trains to Swindon
5 got on and 4 got off
Work underway at new hub area
One car in car park




Above are key facts.

Conclusions / inferences.  A remarkably high traffic - far more than I might have expected, however, these are all daytime trains and I suspect the peak may be slower to recover.   Having said which, to have as many as 5 people waiting for the 18:01 20 minutes ahead of when it was due, on what has been a stop where lots of people get off and few people get on is an indication it might be busier than I think.    I would have expected (and looks like I might be right) that Melksham train use is far more robust through these times than many places due to the nature of many passengers and the service.

At the start of the year, I would have expected around a dozen cars in the car park from before 08:00 until arrival back of the main commuter train at 18:01.  Three things have changed:
1. The Pandemic and changes resulting from that
2. The start of charging for car parking a week ago
3. The lovely weather
and it's impossible to be certain how much the changed pattern owes to each of those three reasons. I raised concerns at the effect on the number of passengers that could happen with the introduction of parking charges, but have been reassured by the person at TransWilts who has set this up that a dip in people parking is to be expected, but that it will only be a temporary blip.  That re-assurance passing on wisdom from the car park operators who are experienced, of course.  But I do look at those zeros and wonder; thank goodness Melksham has a bustling traffic getting to the station by other means, and an empty car park does not mean empty trains.
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« Reply #10 on: August 08, 2020, 05:47:37 pm »

For the last week, I have had various out and about errands ... popped near to Melksham Station each day to get a flavour of what's going on / where we are, without timing it in any way in particular.  ...

Saturday 8th August
1 on and 4 off the train that called at 15:33 on its way from Swindon to Westbury
3 cars there for a few minutes near the station gate - one dropping off and 2 collecting
Chatting (at a distance) with one of the drivers ... his first time at Melksham Station though he has lived in the town for a year "would normally drive to Chippenham, but my visitor said she was coming here - good to have, isn't it?".
No cars parked in the car park.
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« Reply #11 on: August 09, 2020, 04:31:38 pm »

For the last week, I have had various out and about errands ... popped near to Melksham Station each day to get a flavour of what's going on / where we are, without timing it in any way in particular.  ...

Saturday 8th August
1 on and 4 off the train that called at 15:33 on its way from Swindon to Westbury
3 cars there for a few minutes near the station gate - one dropping off and 2 collecting
Chatting (at a distance) with one of the drivers ... his first time at Melksham Station though he has lived in the town for a year "would normally drive to Chippenham, but my visitor said she was coming here - good to have, isn't it?".
No cars parked in the car park.


Sunday 9th August
Day 7, .... and I popped by the station at around 14:35; previous train was at 12:06, next due at 15:02
One person waiting, though nearly half an hour early.
No cars in the main car park.
One parked just outside the station gate in the area marked "Free Parking for Rail Users" and with an APCOA sign confirming that.
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« Reply #12 on: August 21, 2020, 08:59:51 am »

Then ... a phone call at the tail of the afternoon to tell me that the event was no longer going ahead in the way it had been planned.  A email the next morning confirmed.

As the new plans suggested a private publicity event for a small number of VIPs, I took it off the diaries here.  Looking at the original invite list, indeed, it seemed probable that a cut-off line would leave that event purely for the all the immediate players and would not be able to accommodate community groups. However, from my email late on Wednesday

Quote
I am contacting you to advise that reluctantly we have had to postpone the photo shoot scheduled for 28th August at 10am..
 
We have visited the Melksham Hub site today. Sadly due to the recent weather conditions we are significantly behind schedule. ...
Ah well - no pictures of the new car park for the MRUG September newsletter.  I can't say that a few weeks delay to the car park extension will make any difference. 

Extended car parking was planned prior to the Coronavirus shutdown, when the existing car park was perhaps two thirds to three quarters full on each weekday.  The extension is part of the overall master plan for Melksham Station but wasn't the top priority - just one piece in a jigsaw. It rightly moved forward as an early (earlier than ideal) element because the rare opportunity arose to lease the space vacated by a business that had been operating there - grabbing in now, rather that waiting for an indefinite number of years.

Although traffic has returned well over recent weeks - Melksham Station bouncing back rather better than most from informal observations - that traffic has been skewed towards passenger walking, cycling and getting lifts to or from the station and the existing car park has been notable by its quietness - hence no problem with a delay of the extension by - what - a few weeks?  A delay to other aspects in the master plan would have far more effect on passenger numbers and project perception - I note in the short term that the electric vehicle charging points that were due to open three weeks ago in the old car park (according to the Melksham Hub web site last month) are still barriered off, and I really hope (this is a biggie) that the staffed cafe can open within about 10 weeks from now ... https://melkshamhub.co.uk/hub-cafe/  -
Quote
Timeline - September/October 2020: Refurbishment and fit-out followed by opening by new café operator.
as that will bring such a welcome to the station that will encourage traffic growth. Relieved to be assured that it will be open from "before the first train" all day with multiple shifts - actually surprised at the first train - might have expected the second - but good.

Exciting times.   Also in the master plan ... more trains (a next but not final step in DA3), a northern foot and cycle exit from the station bringing many homes 600 metres closer and saving multiple trunk road crossings, and connecting buses to the station.  Additional car parking not on the critical path and has "wobble" room.   Other elements will bring immediate further sustainable business and I look forward to seeing them.
« Last Edit: August 21, 2020, 09:55:29 am by grahame » Logged

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« Reply #13 on: August 21, 2020, 09:32:06 am »

Has somebody to run the cafe been appointed yet?
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« Reply #14 on: August 21, 2020, 09:38:36 am »

Has somebody to run the cafe been appointed yet?

I don't know. There was a TransWilts board meeting at the start of this week, and I have asked the CRO at TransWilts for a news update by the end of next week so that we at the Melksham Rail User Group can include it in the September newsletter. That newsletter will be out on 1st September as we need to remind people of "bustitution" on 5th and 6th September.
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