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As from 18th May, there are extra trains on the TransWilts line that serves Melksham.
New early trains on Sunday mornings at 08:49 to Chippenham (with a connection to Bristol) and Swindon (with a connection to London), and 09:52 to Westbury (with a connection to Weymouth) now means that Melksham residents can commute, make business trips, and take days out seven days a week.
There are now 109 services calling at Melksham every week – that’s up from 27 last year. And passenger numbers have rocketed. Early targets of 45,000 passenger journeys per year were already looking low in February, with forecasts of 60,000. And it now looks likely that the figures for 2014 will be substantially higher again.
First Great Western, Wiltshire Council and the TransWilts Community Rail Partnership are all working closely together to ensure the service works well for passengers, and that passengers and potential passengers are well informed.
Linking to the morning trains that leave Melksham at 07:20 and 07:48 (for Chippenham and Swindon), the Melksham Rail Link bus from Bowerhill, Snowberry Lane, Thyme Road, Melksham Forest and the Town Centre allows commuters to leave their cars at home, and gives a true integrated service from home to work. The bus leaves Bowerhill at 06:50 and 07:20 on Mondays to Fridays, is free to travel on, and is available to non train users too. Return evening services connect with trains arriving in to Melksham at 18:03, 18:48 and 19:18.
Should the number of TransWilts passengers reach target levels, the service will continue within the regular franchise system. Sion Bretton, chair of the Community Rail Partnership said, “The targets are realistic, and the very first figures show us running well up on where we need to be – however, the old adage ‘use it or loose it’ very much holds true to ensure this service runs far into the future.”
The Melksham Railway Development Group – the Community Rail Partnership’s local representation in Melksham – holds its AGM in the Town Hall on the evening of Friday 23rd May and all are welcome. Passengers arriving on the 18:52 train from Swindon can catch the Melksham Rail Link bus into town for the 19:30 start.
There’s a core of volunteers with MRDG – new members to help and support the work in informing the community, keeping the station safe, tidy and smart, and in liaising with the rail industry and councils are very welcome. Also welcome are passengers or potential passengers with questions.
Train timetables are widely available in the town – at the tourist information centre, the library, and the town hall, and are displayed at the station. You can find more details online on the Community Rail Partnership’s website at www.twcrp.org.uk or on the First Great Western site.
From a recent survey conducted it shows that many people have tried the train already – but a lot haven’t. Why not take a day out this summer? It’s just £6.70 off peak return to Swindon (£9.20 if you take the 07:20 or 07:48 peak trains on Monday to Friday), or just £16.50 off peak day return all the way to Weston-super-mare or Weymouth. If there are three or more in your group, ask for ‘GroupSave’ and you’ll get 34% off your off peak adult fares.