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Scheme launched to improve rail services in Wiltshire

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TRAIN services through Melksham look set to continue improving after the ‘TransWilts 2020’ scheme launches later this month.

The scheme, which is determined to increase the quality of rail services in Wiltshire and in turn user numbers, will be launched at a meeting at Chippenham Town Hall next week.

Talks from First Great Western, government officials, and members of the community, will discuss the future of railway services in Wiltshire. The TransWilts Community Rail Partnership (CRP) has contributed to a huge rise in numbers on the Swindon to Westbury service, which goes via Chippenham, Melksham and Trowbridge.

Last year saw an over 700% rise: 160,000 used the service in 2014, compared to just 20,000 in 2013. The service was  improved for a three-year trial, which ends in December 2016.

Community rail officer and president of Melksham‘s Chamber of Commerce Graham Ellis said, “There’s a big difference between 20,000 passengers a year and 200,000 passengers a year – and that’s the change on the TransWilts  service from 2013 to our guestimate for 2015.

“Put another way, that’s an increase from 50 passengers a day in 2013 to 500 a day in 2015; that’s not a peak figure it’s an average.

“The main thing that’s caused the improvement is that the service has been increased, and it’s now much more appropriate in frequency, price and timing.

“The improved services wouldn’t have gained so many passengers if it wasn’t for First Great Western, Wiltshire Council, and the community – aided by the  all CRP – working hard together to make sure the line works well, is known about, and issues that do arise are resolved.

“The CRP now has a devoted admin, secretarial, and financial team in the community interest company (CIC) to free up time for the volunteers and ground team. The CIC also allows us to look forward; to consider how big the changes have been in the last 18 months, what changes we’re going to see in the next 18 months, and beyond.”

TransWilts 2020 will be launched at Chippenham Town Hall on Saturday 21st March, starting at 10.30am – all are welcome.

For those wishing to travel by train, there is a service from Melksham to Chippenham at 10.01am arriving at 10.11.

The TransWilts Community Rail Partnership (TWCRP) is a group of  organisations – including National Rail, First Great Western, the Department for Transport, and Wiltshire Council – seeking to make better use of the TransWilts railway line.

The partnership aims to develop the TransWilts railway and enhance services to meet the current and future travel requirements of the places it serves.

To find out more about the TransWilts Community Rail Partnership and the TransWilts 2020 initiative go to www.twcrp.org.uk.