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MELKSHAM’S railway station ‘blossomed’ last year after passenger numbers grew by nearly 30,000 since new services were introduced in 2013, making it the seventh fastest growing in Great Britain.
Recent statistics showed that 117% more passengers used Melksham Station in 2015 than in the previous year – an increase from 23,930 ticketed journeys in 2013/14 up to 51,858 in 2014/15.
Community rail officer and Melksham resident Graham Ellis said, “I’m very happy with the figures – the Melksham line looks like it has doubled its three-year target for journeys in just two years.
“Since the start of the three- year trial the line has blossomed and again become part of the fabric of the town. Passenger counts in mid-December also suggested that numbers for the year to April 2016 will rise again to around 70,000. We’ve already had to introduce a ticket machine at Melksham because there have been so many people that the conductor can’t get through the train.
“Much of the success has been due to the help of volunteers, and of professional and political people going beyond the call of duty; a big thank you to all of those who have been involved.
“The service has done so well for several reasons; because of the strong community support; Great Western Railway and Wiltshire Council have worked together on this better than we had dared hope; and because the case is a good one – people want to travel along the route, and the service meets a massive need.
“The current trial finishes on 12th December 2016, but the service is set to continue and plans are in place for longer trains in 2017 and additional services from 2018.”
The passenger surge came after additional services were added on a trial basis to the TransWilts train line, served by Great Western Railway, in late 2013. There are now 16 services through Melksham every weekday, which will run until at least December.
Campaigners continue to encourage local residents to travel by train more often to prove the services are worthy of keeping in the future.
Statistics released in December by the Office of Rail and Road (ORR) showed the 10 stations with the highest usage increase: with its extra 27,928 (117% increase) Melksham was ranked seventh out of over 2,500 stations based on their estimated entry and exit numbers.