THIS Friday evening - 12th May
18:30 at Melksham Town Hall.

Andrew Griffiths, who's the newly appointed General Manager (Central) for First Great Western will be addressing talking to the Melksham Rail Development Group, and taking questions.

All welcome, but best let me know if you'll be coming so that I can advise the MRDG secretary of rough numbers. (No need to email me apologies if you can't make it). If you want a pickup from the station off the 18:09, that can be arranged

Andrew is one of four General Managers and looks after all the services in our area, but on Friday he'll be particularly addressing matters of interest to us here in Melksham - i.e. the Swindon to Southampton service. As well as the reduction of services that I would still like to see reversed, he'll be answering points I have raised about connections, better timing of remaining services, the possible extension of the 234 bus to Chippenham Station and why that seems to have been aborted, and on fares which for anyone wanting to do a day trip to London will double when the offpeak train at 09:12 is withdrawn.

Andrew has to leave us just after 19:30, and the meeting will continue with the MRDG AGM. Again, all welcome. And no doubt discussions will range wider as regards and further possible follow ups and activities.

I hope to see you Friday!
You might like to know that Michael Ancram our MP, and also the MPs for Swindon, Chippenham, Trowbridge and Westbury all spoke in a debate in Parliament on 25th April that concerned the Great Western Franchinse. All four of the MPs for the line specifically mentioned the Swindon to Westbury Service and Melksham, and objected to the planned service reduction. Regrettably, Derek Twigg answering for the goverment simply ignored the questions on this service and only addressed other issues.
I attended a national meeting at Swindon last Saturday, and met and listened to an address by the customer relations director of First. Much of the talk was a fairly standard presentation some intersting points did come up. One was that three issues in the franchise remain unresolved - two are out of our area (Ivybridge and early morning trains to Gatwick), but the third relates to the strengthing of Cardiff to Portsmouth trains which she thought will be achieved by "moving stock around within First". Good - and perhaps they can find the stock to serve Melksham off this (but not excellent as Melksham is NOT a subject she mentioned as still being open).
Realistically, it still seems very much more likely than not that Melksham will loose most of its trains in December, and I question the viability of the few that remain - one of the two remaining weekday trains in each direction will run at a time which seems more suited to the operational convenience of the company running the service than to their customer's need, and the draft weekend service is peculiar and inappropriate to put it mildy. Your continued support WOULD be much appreciated - each letter written, each meeting attended and point made pushes the pendulum very slightly and, who knows, we might just be able to push it far enough to make a difference.

A threatened train in Swindon last Saturday:

A train that won't run after December, said by the Department for Transport to be carrying "just fresh air" around"

Graham (Ellis)- 01225 708225

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