Train services, 2015 to 2020
Do you wish to support the call for train services to be maintained at the level they are currently running at on the TransWilts line which runs from Swindon via Chippenham, Melksham and Trowbridge to Westbury with some services extended to Dilton Marsh, Warminster and Salisbury?
If so, please write to the Department for Transport in answer to their current consultation (closes 26 June 2014).
There is a quick link [here] which will provide you with a template letter which you can modify / add to if you wish.
There is a copy of the text [here] if you prefer to cut and paste
If you are a member of a local organisation, please have them write in too
If you want to learn more, read on ...
Synopsis - current service, how well it's doing, future suggestions
Currently, eight trains each way per day run between Westbury and Swindon (a couple less on a Sunday) - they're every two hours during the daytime and early evening, with extra trains making the service roughly hourly at peak times. This is a service improvement which was introduced in December 2013, and already passenger journeys on a typical weekday have risen from between 50 and 60 to nearly 400. The service is making a real difference to a lot of people, with people moving home, taking new jobs, saving time and money, travelling more green and saving parking spaces, and enjoying a wide range of leisure trips.
The service is being helped by an LSTF grant (money from the Department for Transport via Wiltshire Council) in the three year build-up period; the target to reach in the second full year is an average of 20 passengers per train - i.e. 320 per day, but as you'll see we've already reached that target in just six months.
The Department for Transport is now asking what rail services should be run across the whole of the "Great Western" area - the Thames Valley, South West of England and South Wales from 2015 to 2020. On pages 30 and 31 of that document, it suggests that the starting point for discussions is a continuation of the current service which, however, it describes as "every 2 hours", leaving out the extra peak trains which are already very busy. Running a service to that description would tear the heart out of the succeeding new service, removing the ability for people in 9 to 5 jobs to commute to Filton Abbey Wood, Oxford, Didcot and Reading from Melksham, and reducing the area of Swindon that people could commute to from Westbury, Trowbridge and Melksham for 9 to 5 jobs to a small area within a few minutes of the station, rather than thw whole town.
The Department for Transport consultation document, though, is just that - a starting point for consultation. Please help deliver the services that you would like to see by responding to it.
Proposal from Melksham Chamber of Commerce
1. Carry on, all year round, with the current service (two hourly daytime with extra peak trains on Monday to Saturday) until local services from Swindon to Cheltenham Spa are replaced by through London expresses ("IEP")
2. When IEP arrives and the extra TransWilts trains aren't needed north of Swindon, turn them back to provide extra TransWilts services.
3. Also when IEP arrives, ensure good connections and a regular through service every hour from Swindon to Salisbury; this should be possible using just the train that currently provides the extra peak runs and the local train that already operated south of Westbury for most of the day.
4. Treat the service as a community rail service, to enable the community via the TransWilts Community Rail Partnership to continue to link local government, the community, and the train operator in helping this service to continue to grow.
To support this proposal, please email the Department for Transport at GWconsultation@dft.gsi.gov.uk.
We've also provide a quick link with some text you can support or modify here.
More Background Reading
You can find the consultation document via [here] or a copy directly [here].
You can read the Melksham Chamber of Commerce's full response [here].
You can read a technical update on the current service [here]
You can read a techincal note on the effect of cutting the extra peak services [here]
You can find the recent passenger counts [here]
You can find further feedback on service uptake and development [here]
Illustrations - TransWilts trains at Swindon, Melksham and Westbury. The Swindon picture shows the 07:04 arrival from Westbury, one of the extra peak services. The Westbury picture also shows an extra service - the 19:40 to Swindon
For you to cut and paste ...
Please write to: GWconsultation@dft.gsi.gov.uk
Subject: GW Consultation response
Draft text of proposed letter:
In answer to questions 7, 12, and 18.
* Please keep the currently running service level as a minimum thoughout the franchise period on the Swindon to Westbury line. That is a train every 2 hours, each day, with additional peak services on Monday to Saturday making the service hourly at those times. Services start before 06:45 on Monday to Friday, 07:45 on Saturday and 08:45 on Sunday, and end no earlier than 20:45.
* Please operate this service as a community rail service to continue to harness the support of the local community.
* When timetables are recast as a result of IEP / electrification, please consider options linking Swindon - Westbury with local train south of Westbury, taking advantage of more efficient rolling stock use that will become possible to run more frequent services all day from Swindon to Salisbury and perhaps beyond.
Thank you for your consideration.
This is a microsite set up to help provide potential respondents to the Great Western Franchise consultation of May and June 2014 with information concerning proposals for services on the Swindon to Westbury line (the TransWilts) for the period from 2015 to 2020. The page is hosted by Well House Consultants and supported by the Melksham Chamber of Commerce.