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Author Topic: TransWilts data - sanity check please  (Read 1641 times)
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« on: March 19, 2017, 10:38:40 am »

What have I missed out / got wrong?   Suggestions welcome


Seven days a week, TransWilts trains pull out of Swindon through the beautiful scenery of Wiltshire, bound for Westbury with its iconic White Horse, with some services on to Salisbury and beyond. 

The TransWilts is a historic line - the first branch off the Great Western Railway - the Wilts, Someset and Weymouth line running all the way to the seaside, with a "Heart of Wessex Ranger" ticket giving you unlimited travel on the route for a day.  The stations at Chippenham and Westbury are of historic interest and well worth a few minutes extra look when you're leaving or joining a train there, and there's history at Swindon too though it's very much masked by the modernisation required for it to function as a modern busy junction. 

As you travel on the train from Swindon, you may catch glimpses of the old Wilts and Berks Canal which is sloely being restored, and you'll get your first glance of the Bristol Avon as you cross it on the approach to Chippenham.   Chippenham Station is set on the hill above the town, and as your train sets off again you'll cross high above the main street of the toen on a Brunel viaduct before carrying on to Thingley junction, where your TransWilts train turns off onto the single track heading south, away from the main London to Bristol line.  Observant passenger will notice a profusion of electricty pylons here abouts as the train heads for Melksham, when the Melksham substation distributes power over a wide area and will be providing the major feed for the electric trains of the future when they reach Thingley. 

The section of the TransWilts you're now on, from Chippenham to Trowbridge via Melksham, was closed to daily passenger services in the 1960s as part of the Beeching Modernisation plan, but a commuter service to Swindon was re-introducded in 1985 when the station at Melksham was re-opened. In recent years, extra trains have been added and indeed Melksham Station had the fastest growing passenger numbers of any station in England over the four years to April 2016.  You wouldn't think so from the humble little platform if you get off there - but there's plenty to see in the town. And in the near future, the platform shouldn't be quite so little.

Beyond Melksham, the line carries on along the water meadows to Staverton, where it crosses the river.   The bridge here was originally one of Brunel's wooden viaducts which are normally associated with Cornwall, but it was replaced many years ago.   The track was originally broad gauge, with two lines, but it's now a single track standard gauge line.   It's quite possible when your train joins the Cardiff to Portsmouth line - which is two tracks - that you'll pass a freight train waiting to go back up through Melksham to Chippenham and beyond, as the line is very busy indeed these days.

Trowbridge is the county town of Wiltshire, and the line you've just travelled was the first railway to reach the town; it was also the first railway to reach Westbury, which is the final station for many TransWilts trains.   Look out of the window on your left as the train approaches Westbury, and you'll see the White Horse cut in chalk on the hillside overlooking the town.

The Wilts, Somerset and Weymouth line carried on via Frome and Yeovil to Dorchester and Weymouth, and you can change at Westbury for that train - that's the Heart of Wessex Community Rail Line.  But we'll continue south - which some TransWilts trains do - on what was originally the Salisbury branch of the Great Western Railway.  Shortly after leaving Westbury, we may call at Dilton Marsh.  Saved from closure under the Beeching Axe by John Betjamin ( ), this station' surrounds have changed from rolling countryside to residential; you may see rebuilding work going on to lengthen the platforms over the next two years, and we're looking forward to service changes to reflect the new urban location of the station.   Betjamen's poem concludes
   And when all the horrible roads are finally done for,
   And there's no more petrol left in the world to burn,
   Here to the Halt from Salisbury and from Bristol
   Steam trains will return.
and we agree very much with him about traffic growth. However, current diesel trains will perhaps give way to trains powered by hydrogen fuel cells, or indeed the line could well be electrified as part of a rolling program over the next 30 years.

Warminster Station, of all on the TransWilts line, is the closest to the original wayside station. Take a look in the waiting room if it's open, marvel at the ticket office, enjoy the old footbridge and the clapperboard awnings.  Warminster is a military town - a base for Salisbury Plain just to the east and you'll find many long distance journeys starting or ending here as troops go of fon leave.   As your train leaves Warminster, take a look to yuor left and you'll see the military sidings which are still very occasionally used to transport military vehicles.  With the Cranborne Chase area or outstanding natural beauty to your right, and Salisbury Plain rising to your left, the railway now runs through open countryside all the way to Salisbury - so remote, indeed, that the intermediate stations were closed even before Dr Beeching came along.

Wilton - on the appraoch to Salisbury - was the ancient capital of Wessex; it's the town from which our county of WILTshire got its name and is commemorated too in our TransWILTs name.  Changing requirements make a good case for Wilton Station to re-open, and for visitors that will mean easy access to the Wilton Outlet Centre and Wilton House, plentiful parking to join the TransWilts and other trains, and transfer buses to the world heritage site at Stonehenge.  Housing development close to the railway, and site limitations at Salisbury Station, are all helping to build a compelling case for this station.

Just past the Wilton Station site, your train swings to the right and then the left to join the old London and South Western Railway line, and the old Great Western terminus is no longer in passenger service. That's excellent news for the arriving passenger from Swindon, as it makes for a same-station change onward to the east (Basingstoke and London), to the West (Honiton, Axminster and Exeter) and the south (Southampton and Portsmouth).  The old GWR (Great Western Railway) station does remain larglel in tact, and you might like to take a quick look - you're encouraged by a blue plaque, and you can see South West Train's diesl usits in the old station as it's now in use as their depot.


Along the route of the Wilts and Berks Canal through lovely country side in the valley of the Bristol Avon and through lush fields of the Wylye Valley down to Salisbury

Round the north west flank of Salisbury Plain, with glorious views of the Westbury White Horse.

Six towns and a city - all of which are worth stopping to take a look at, continuing on the next train.  Swindon, with its modern centre, historic railway works now open as the Steam! museum, and designer outlet centre.  Chippenham's museaum and heritage centre will introduce you to the town, with its old Yelde Hall, magnificnent railway station and viaduct, riverside walks and more. Melksham (Melksham Spa) was to be a spa town to rival Cheltenham and you can still see some of the old busildings from that period; there's also a street of medieval houses and a church that dates back to the Doomesday book, a riverside nature reserve, and fitter visitors can walk to the 17th Century Pack Horse Bridge over the River Avon.  Explore the history of Trowbridge at the museum, and follow their trail which tells you about the town and introduces you to the story of Isaac Pitman, who invented shorthand.  At Westbury, admire the trains arriving and leaving in six different directions ... Westbury is very much a railway town, with a railway pub serving excellent food and always things going on - if it's not passenger trains, it's freight on the move - and away from the station the energetic can race the history of the town from the old church to the Victorian indoor swimming pool; the heritage center will put you on the trail of the old iron works, and you can walk up the hill and stand above Westbury's famous white horse.  Warminster town is only a few hundred yards from the station, with a wide selection of pubs and restaurants, and if you plan your visit right you'll catch one of the special bus days that the town hosts, such as the vintage bus running day, and double becker bus trips up to the abandoned village of Imber on Salisbury Plain.   And finally Salisbury - with it's river, iconic cathedral, Mompesson House and other properties around the close, and the wide range of shops and cafes you would expect of a city.

3. The line runs in the county of Wiltshire and in the Swindon Unitary Autority area

4. Swindon, Chippenham, Melksham, Trowbridge, Westbury, Dilton Marsh, Warminster and Salisbury

5. Swindon to Westbury 32 miles. Swindon to Salisbury 56 miles.

6. The TransWilts connects with the Heart of Wessex line from Bristol and Bath to Frome, Yeovil, Dorchester and Weymouth at Trowbridge and Westbury, and with the Three Rivers line at Salisbury, which serves Mottisfont, Romsey, Southampton Central and Southampton Airport from there.

7. Steam Musum at Swindon is a 10 minute walk from our terminus at Swindon, and the Swindon and Cricklade Railway at Taw Valley Halt is a short bus ride from Swindon Station, with heritage trains running to Hayes Knoll, and the Didcot Railway Centre is just one stop away from Swindon on the Great Western main line.   There's a narrow gauge railway as one of many entertainments at Longleat (around 3 miles from Warminster Station, and a minature railway offering rides at Coate Water (lots of other things to do there too!) which is served by frequent buses from Swindon Station.

8. Passenger trains on the TransWilts are provided by Great Western Railway, a part of the First group.

9. Journey time from Swindon to Westbury is around 45 minutes, with the extended journey from Swindon to Salisbury taking around 75 minutes.   Of course, we hope you stop somewhere along the way to enjoy one of th towns of Chippenhan, Melksham. Trowbridge, Westbury or Warminster.

10. From London's Paddington Station you can reach Swindon in one hour.  In under 90 minutes you can travel from Paddington to Westbury, and from London Waterloo there are frequent trains to Salisbury, also taking around 90 minutes.

11. TransWilts Services run every day of the the year except Christmas Day and Boxing Day.


13. Facebook:
Passenger forum:

14. Itinaries (to be further documented)

* Day round trip from London ... Paddington, Swindon, Wesbury, Salisbury, Waterloo

* Salisbury to Oxford and Oxford to Salisbury for tourists

Note also DCRDF plans

15. Getting there

By train: Rail connections are available at Swindon from the main London to South Wales line, at Chippenham from the main London to Bath and Bristol Line, at Westbury from the main London (Paddington) to West of England line, and at Salisbury from the London (Waterloo) to Exeter line.  Connections also avaible to TransWilts services at Westbury and Trowbridge from the Portsmouth and Southampton to Bath, Bristol, Newport and Cardiff "Wessex Main Line".

By air: We recommend Southampton Airport, with a direct train service to Salisbury

By long distance coach:   Regular National Express routes serve Swindon, Chippenahm and Salisbury. National Express also run a daily coach from London to Melksham and Trwobridge, and Berry's superfast run a daily service between London (Hammersmith) and Warminster

By bus: Local buses call at or near all stations on the TransWilts, taking you to / from destinations away from the railway such as Malmesbury, Badminton, Castle Combe, Bowood, Devizes, and Wilton (where the train passes, but there's no station yet) and Stonehenge.

By Road: Melksham Station has a free car park on Station Approach, in the junction of the trunk roads to Chippenham (A350) and Bath (A365).   All other Stations have paid car parking available except Dilton Marsh. Note that Westbury and Salisbury Station car parks tend to fill early in the day on Mondays to Fridays.

In answer to:

1) Description

2) Highlights
List up to three highlights of your line e.g. great views from the train window, stop off at Carbis Bay’s glorious beach, enjoy St Ives’ art galleries and top restaurants

3) County: If your line stretches through numerous counties, please list them all stating which county contains the majority of your line

4) Stations: List each railway station your line serves

5) Length of route: e.g. 39 miles | 63 km

6) Nearby CRP (Community Rail Partnership) lines: List up to four nearest CRP lines to your line

7) Nearby heritage lines: List up to four nearest  heritage railway lines

Cool Train operating company: Enter the name of the TOC (Train Operating Company) that operates along your line

9) End to end journey time: Enter the time it takes to travel from one end of your line to the other

10) Hours from London: Enter the time it takes to travel from London, approx. to the nearest 15min

11) Opening times: e.g. all year round (Mon-Sat) | Sundays in summer

12) CRP website:

13) Social media links: If your CRP has social media accounts enter the links below
You Tube:   
Trip Advisor:   

14) Itineraries: This is another place where you can inspire visitors.

15) Getting there: List ways of getting to either end of your line by car, bus and train


Coffee Shop Admin, Vice Chair of Melksham Rail User Group, and on the board of TravelWatch SouthWest.
John R
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« Reply #1 on: March 19, 2017, 12:04:51 pm »

You might want to mention that the HoW(resolve) Ranger is only valid after 0820 on weekdays, and that just after leaving Swindon is the Steam museum.
Chris from Nailsea
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« Reply #2 on: March 19, 2017, 06:15:28 pm »

I'm assuming, grahame, that your 'spill chucker' will identify and correct the inevitable plethora of spelling and grammatical errors in your text?  Roll Eyes Shocked Grin


William Huskisson MP (Member of Parliament) was the first person to be killed by a train while crossing the tracks, in 1830.  Many more have died in the same way since then.  Don't take a chance: stop, look, listen.

"Level crossings are safe, unless they are used in an unsafe manner."  Discuss.
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« Reply #3 on: March 19, 2017, 06:27:40 pm »

I'm assuming, grahame, that your 'spill chucker' will identify and correct the inevitable plethora of spelling and grammatical errors in your text?  Roll Eyes Shocked Grin

I'm shore it will  Grin

Coffee Shop Admin, Vice Chair of Melksham Rail User Group, and on the board of TravelWatch SouthWest.
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« Reply #4 on: March 20, 2017, 01:55:06 pm »

Been a morning of writing more material for various reports - wonderful to look back at how much we've done over the last year

See them a little larger at ... click on individual pictures there for even larger.

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