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On Sundays from 10th December, an extra train will run from Melksham to Swindon at 08:46, giving Melksham an “all day, every day” service for the first time in living memory.
And from the beginning of January, this train will start back at Warminster at 08:20 – meaning the first northbound train from Warminster will be two and a half hours earlier than it is at the moment – a massive improvement for that town.
“Within the first days of the new year, one-carriage trains will be replaced by two-carriage trains – allowing passenger numbers to continue to grow,” said Peter Blackburn, chair of Melksham Rail User Group.
“An announcement on the future shape of the Melksham town bus is imminent, with a strong possibility that certain services will be extended to the Bowerhill industrial area and to Melksham Station.
“Services will change sometime within the first few months of 2018 – we’re just waiting to hear which option has been chosen. Current users of the bus are paramount in any council/ TransWilts lead changes.
“During 2018, the platform at Melksham Station will be lengthened and that will allow for more efficient loading and unloading. It will also make the station much safer, with new surface and a platform that slopes away from the track and not towards it.
“The new year will also bring completion of the “Melksham Station Masterplan” which looks at how the station and access should be improved to handle not 3,000 passengers a year (as it was 10 years ago) or 60,000 passenger a year (as it was last year), but quarter of a million (which is where it could end up if Melksham Station is as heavily used as other Wiltshire stations).
“Ticket sales at Melksham Station rose 23% for 2016/17 to 74,333, compared to 60,676 in 2015/16, continuing our growth pattern from previous years.
“A consultation that concludes on 22nd December this year looks at services for 2019, and a consultation that closes in February looks forward to 2020.
“Community suggestions for 2019 include extending the trains from Melksham from Westbury to Warminster, Salisbury or the Southampton area, increasing the total services at Melksham from 9 to 13 a day, with trains every hour at the peak and every 2 hours otherwise – from early morning to late evening.
“Support is widespread from all along the line, and this opens the way for an hourly service all day from the early 2020s.
“Melksham’s rail service is now an established part of many people’s daily lives,” added Peter. “People can live in Melksham and work in Chippenham or Swindon without having to worry about how they’ll get there or home, even if they don’t have a car.”
Current train services from Melksham can be found at www.twcrp.info/ melksham and details of the Melksham Rail User Group at www.mrug.org.uk. Or email grahamellis@trans wilts.org if you have any questions.