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Author Topic: Melksham Transport User Group - the next 6 months.  (Read 114 times)
grahame
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« on: January 01, 2023, 04:30:32 pm »

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The Rail Industry is in utter chaos this 1st January, with cancellations galore and "do not travel" advice. The entire service at Melksham has been cancelled. And the chaos and the disproportionate cancellations a Melksham is not just today - it's ongoing.

The Melksham service has always been one of the more difficult operationally to run reliably with big junctions at both ends where things can go wrong. It's also a very easy service to cancel because there is only very limited interworking with other lines, and if it gets cancelled, knock on effects onto other lines are few. Furthermore, it's not considered an "important" intercity service that people will complain about over a wide area and in London if it's pulled, and the fares in the region are much lower than long distance fares, so the financial "hit" on the train operator is limited. A perfect storm, I'm afraid.

The Melksham [Rail / Transport] User Group and its predecessors have partnered with the train operators over the years to promote growth of services and their use. However, we are embarrassed to promote the current service with its awful reliability record. For regular users who are robust to the issues it is still useful - for newcomers there's a significant risk of their first planned use going wrong, quite apart from the worry beforehand of not knowing if it will run.

Four officers of the group met last month, and we have decided on a hiatus until the spring. We'll maintain insurance and CRN(resolve) membership; our annual Zoom account runs until mid-year and I will occasionally feed online media and deal with correspondence from it. As a group, we've some funding left over from events like Santa trains, and from grants from both Melksham Town and Melksham Without councils in past years; I'm letting those organisations know of the suspension.

Through the winter, we'll work with / recommend the West Wilts Rail User Group which covers the five towns (Trowbridge, Warminster, Westbury and Bradford-on-Avon) and also Avoncliff and Dilton Marsh; they have a newsletter in preparation now, a committee meeting in February, and a public meeting and AGM (Annual General Meeting) in March to which guests from Melksham will be welcome (and lifts back available as it will be after the last train). On the bus "front", the Option 24/7 team has local representation in each community area including Melksham (I am the local co-ordinator) with an active online presence and monthly or more meetings with Wiltshire Council - and that's the route to us picking up the bus mantle. See https://www.wwrug.org.uk and http://option247.uk

On the topic of buses - we do not have the same reliability issues on the services between our towns, and I am delighted to remind Melksham residents of the following Faresaver ( https://www.faresaver.co.uk ) services:
* Services 271, 272 and 273 to Bath - 7 days a week including all evenings except Sundays
* Services 272 and 273 to Devizes - 7 days a week including all evenings except Sundays
* Service x34 to Chippenham, and to Trowbridge and Frome - daytime, Mondays to Saturdays
* Services 68 and 69 to Corsham, and to Holt and Trowbridge - daytime, Mondays to Saturdays
* Service 69 to Bradford-on-Avon - limited service, daytime, Mondays to Saturdays
All timetables on the Faresaver web site - proven reliable, and their tracking app is helpful

From January to the end of March (2023), single bus fares are capped at £2.00 per person per journey, giving significantly lower fares for many. Bare in mind if you're going somewhere like the Royal United Hospital in Bath, which involves a change of bus in Bath, your best value ticket may still be an Avon Rider.

For holders of ENCTS (English National Concessionary Travel Scheme) cards ("senior bus passes"), your pass is valid all day, every day on local bus journeys staring in Wiltshire - also until the end of March 2023, so no payment will be required on any of the services listed above on presentation of your card, even before 09:30 in the morning or after 23:00 at night.

Web site updated at http://www.mtug.org.uk
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