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Author Topic: An Introduction to the lack of trains on the TransWilts  (Read 1575 times)
grahame
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« on: October 31, 2007, 03:21:02 pm »

History - BF (Brake First (carriage)) (Before First)

The five largest population centres in Wilshire are Swindon, Salisbury, Trowbridge, Chippenham and Melksham and they are linked by the "TransWilts" train service.

In 2001, there were major changes to the service on this line, giving us five trains each way a day running from Swindon through the other towns an on to Southampton.

From 2002 to 2006, service use grew substantially. When asked for figures for the line as a whole, the Office of the Rail Regulator quotes ticket sales for Melksham, a town of 24000 served only by there trains where the number of journey tickets rose from 3200 to 27400 in 5 years - that's a compound grown rate of 35%. Other measures (from Wiltshire County Council and later from the First Group gave more modest growth rates of 10% for the line as a whole.

The 2002/03 figures were used to prepare sevice level requirements for 2007 assumed a growth rate of less than 1%.  Consultations closed in late Spring 2005, and were so limited in publicity that they didn't come to attention of the users of the service or the local communities served.

The conclusion reached by a stunted consultation, and a growth forecast of 1% based on 3000 tickets was rather less favourable that the conclusion that would have been reached with double figure growth from 27000 tickets.  And indeed the decision should have been for an even more dramatic improvement as the whole corridor is slated for 50% growth in housing in the next 20 years.  "Bus alternatives?" I hear you ask. Nah - the road system sucks.  The train from the county town - Trowbridge - to Swindon takes 35 minutes but the "Express" bus takes 95.

History - AW (After Wessex)

Current train service are even worse we envisaged under the FGW (First Great Western) franchise.

The specification called for a commuter train into Swindon, arriving there after 8 a.m and leaving back sometime after 5.30 p.m., plus one other trip each way every day.  Those "clever" people at First, though, noticed that if they run the morning train before the specification time, and leave the evening train until nearly 7 p.m., they can save themselves the leasing cost of a unit.  The extra trains can be run at about 6 in the morning, and 8 in the evening, as balancing workings.  It does nothing practical for travellers on the route, it doesn't even meet the minimum spec (never mind - the spec mysteriously changed) but it's great for shareholders.
 
Saturday - "two trains each way" and some are sensible, but why oh why was the popular 17:45 shoppers and sports fans train (which for passenger's purposed was balanced by the Saturdays only 09:30 inbound) and replace it with a train that doesn's start until nearly 9 p.m.

And on a Sunday - "two each way" we were told, but the spec changed into "two trains from Westbury to Swindon" in the end.  Complete mystery as to who thinks the Sunday traffic is one-way and is late evening (20:20 and 22:20 into Swindon)

Reliability was an issue in Wessex trains days - I don't have any cancellation figures prior to 2005, but we always had mobile phones with us.  Summer of 2006 wasn't brilliant, but First Great Western assured us that when they cut the trains that December we would see a big change in reliability.  HOW RIGHT THEY WERE! Cancellations rocketed, with up to 40% of trains cancelled in a two week period in January 2007. Even now as I write this at the end of October 2007, 10% of weekday trains were cancelled the week before last, and 10% so far this week have been cancelled too.

We don't monitor weekend trains to the same degree, but historically they have been replaced by buses for engineering reasons on the majority of the weekends. That's not only because of direct engineering works, but also because the line is a major diversionary route and trains linking the hamlets (in London terms) of Chippenham, Melksham, Trowbridge, Westbury and Warminster - total population over 100,000 are withdrawn when they might delay the Plymouth Express that thunders through without bothering to stop.

Taken from an introduction I'm going to present at a national conference this weekend. I do home that the First Great Western Director who will be doing another presentation, and I will be listening to with great interest, doesn't take it upon himself to leave just after he has spoken ...

I will follow up with following sections when I have written them ...
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grahame
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« Reply #1 on: October 31, 2007, 09:33:40 pm »

The Route, the traffic from North to South in Wiltshire

Ruth Kelly and the Department for Transport has just published (30th October 2007) their report entitled "Towards a Sustainable Transport System: Supporting Economic Growth in a Low Carbon World", and I took a look at some of its 90 pages. Page 27 includes a diagram showing road conjestion, and I've reproduced a zoomed section here.



* Roads shown in red cause an annual total loss of up to 139000 hours per km
* Roads shown in Orange cause an annual loss of between 6500 and 28000 hours
* And roads shown in blue cause a loss of under 6500 hours per km per annum.
(There are no roads on this section with a loss of over 139000 hours per km.)

You can see the major North - South traffic flows at the Western end of my map - a fairly clear run up from Salisbury to Warminster, but the two severely overloaded road routes from that area via Bath to the M4 (that's to the left) and via Chippenham to the M4 (that's to the right). 

The towns of Swindon, Chippenham, Melksham, Trowbridge, Westbury and Warminster - and Salisbury and Frome too - are slated for major growth with up to 50% more homes in the next 20 years.

I undertstand that an agreement bewteen Wiltshire County Council and BaNES (Bath and North East Somerset) will route additional traffic via the right hand leg to relieve the left hand leg once the section at Westbury has been bypassed.

Would you like to see how the passenger railway along this corridor fits onto the map?



On that map I have also added the place names - the largest five population centres in Wiltshire (Swindon, Salisbury, Trowbridge, Chippenham and Melksham), and the other two large towns inthe county on the roads concerned - Westbury and Warminster.

I note especially the conjestion indicators for the road past Westbury, and past Melksham.   Remember that there are strong proposals to provide a bypass at Westbury at the moment, but that plans for a relief road around Melksham were dropped from the 10 year plan.   The current proposal for a new Asda store would join directly on to the red section at Melksham.
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Lee
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« Reply #2 on: November 01, 2007, 11:03:03 am »

Here is a link to "Towards a Sustainable Transport System: Supporting Economic Growth in a Low Carbon World"
http://www.dft.gov.uk/about/strategy/transportstrategy/

There may also be some relevant stats in the link below.
http://www.gnn.gov.uk/environment/fullDetail.asp?ReleaseID=327245&NewsAreaID=2&NavigatedFromDepartment=False
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