TransWilts train service - over 100 journeys every week
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20.9.2014 - We have just updated our course layouts and descriptions and added our 2015 schedule.

Comparing German, Dutch and British Railways

"Sorry about the small delay to your journey this morning. This is waiting for platform to become available at Manningtree Station. As soon as I have more information I'll pass it on to you". Yes - we're back in the UK and the very first train we're on is delayed. I'm not sure if that's a co-incidence or a pattern.

Yesterday, we traveled from the town of Sulzbach (Taunus) by train to Hoek van Holland for the overnight boat to England. There are several places called Sulzbach so you may not immediately find "ours" in a search; it's a township with a population of around 8,000, around 10 to 15 miles from Frankfurt. During the Day, there's an hourly train (every 30 minutes in the peak) each way - shuttling between Frankfurt Hocst and Bad Soden, both of which are on the S-Bahn from the city ... so it's a small connecting line. Alas, I start to draw parallels to Melksham's situation with regards to train service and, alas, Melksham shows up as being short-changed in a quite dramatic way yet again. Three times the population, one tenth the service - so Sulzbach has thirty times the service per person.

At Hoest, we changed into the regional train for Koblnez via Wiesdbaden. At Kobelnz into the Intercity train that was going all the way to Hamburg, but we changed at Dusseldorf into the Hamm to Venlo (via Monchengladbach) service; at Venlo, just across the Dutch border, we changed onto Dutch National Rail.

I read our schedule ahead of time with a little misgiving - there were allowances of just a small handful of minutes to switch from one train to another in what I (correctly) anticipated were large operating hubs, and one of the trains in particular was a very long distance express. But I need not have worried, the whole thing ran like clockwork as I suspect it does every hour. We got seats on all the services, though the Hamm to Venlo train had standees for much of the way (it was mid afternoon on POETS day, after all).

The price wasn't too bad either - 400km, 117 Euros for 2 people = 14c/km. That's the whole journey Sulzbach to Hoek van Holland, booked via a single site request, but supplied as two tickets (and cheaper than the site had quoted) as a split / specific trains made us a good saving.

Impressed by the Germans? Yes - but not half as much as impressed by the Dutch. Our long distance express from Venlo to Rotterdam ran every half hour - long train, and busy on the Friday afternoon At Eindhoven, it comes in alongside the Maastrcicht to Amsterdam Express, again every half hour. One of the trains stops for four minutes, the other for just two, and there's the most enormous interchange flow between them. I'm sure the locals have some grumbles, and I'm sure there's reasons it can't be done in the UK ... but I found myself comparing and contrasting to the half hourly Chippenham to London train, and how it doesn't do very will in connecting into the services to Oxford, and to the north, at Didcot.

And another view of Dutch Railways. The "Sprinter" - a rather nice, fast, modern, tramish 3 car setup - for Hoek van Holland leaves from platform 1A - yes, a bay at the end of the station. People are running up the platform to catch the train, and the lady conductor holds her door opened for them and encourages them into a sprint for the final few yards. And I recollect (on the way down) a train that was held for five minutes for a connection. This all sounds like the most natural thing in the world, doesn't it? Well - the UK story tends to be "train must leave on time" and the reasons given are "we are penalized if we don't" (which I believe), "it's more complicated in the UK" (which I don't think I believe) and "it will lead to knock-on delays" which certainly didn't happen to us as we pulled into Hoek van Holland - exactly on time, after our 6 train journey.

"People used to use our line a lot on Saturdays for days out in London" says the gent we got chatting to on the train this morning "but with all the engineering works that have been going on to improve the line, and bus substitutions, they have stopped doing that ...." Truly, the impression given of how we do trains and how the Germans and Dutch to them is rather different.

It's now 08:45 .. and we're due to be pulling in to Liverpool Street in London.
Actually "We are now approaching Shenfield. Please change here for services to Southend Victoria and Southminster". Hmmm ...




Update for the record ... we were 20 minutes late into Liverpool Street
(written 2011-02-19)

 
Associated topics are indexed as below, or enter http://melksh.am/nnnn for individual articles
Z501 - Public Transport - Rail
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  [4250] Lacock Halt - former TransWilts Station - (2014-03-23)
  [4238] A Question series posed to Melksham Tourist information - (2014-01-19)
  [4226] Saturday train to Swindon - two weeks in - (2013-12-21)
  [4224] TransWilts - first day pictures - (2013-12-18)
  [4219] TransWilts train services - up from 2 to 8 per day - (2013-12-09)
  [4218] A THANK YOU to those who have brought the new train service to fruition - (2013-12-06)
  [4217] New train service - launch plans and timetable links - (2013-12-03)
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  [4202] Excellent Railfuture conference, but some setup lessons - (2013-11-03)
  [4199] Draft Westbury - Melksham - Swindon train times, from December 2014 - (2013-10-24)
  [4196] Official - Trowbridge and Melksham to London train improvements - (2013-10-22)
  [4195] Booking for Santa, Melksham Railway Development Group, 8th December 2013 - (2013-10-21)
  [4194] TransWilts Link - meeting notes from 19th October - (2013-10-20)
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  [4163] TransWilts Community Rail Partnership - formally constituted - (2013-09-01)
  [4160] Bank Holiday Monday - pictures of a great train trip to Weymouth - (2013-08-27)
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  [4150] Melksham Regular Public Transport Map - as at August 2013 - (2013-08-09)
  [4148] Special General Meeting, Adoption of Constitution for TransWilts Community Rail Partnership - (2013-08-01)
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  [4142] Passenger survey at Chippenham - report and pictures - (2013-07-24)
  [4131] West Coast (of Wales) - railway and stations in pictures - (2013-07-04)
  [4113] Wiltshire and Melksham Transport - what is going on? - (2013-06-09)
  [4110] TransWilts meeting ... - (2013-06-07)
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  [4104] Weymouth vis the TransWilts - the day out today - (2013-05-27)
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  [3938] A long overdue meeting - a steeping stone towards coordinate transport user inputs - (2012-12-02)
  [3937] Agenda for Wiltshire Link Travel groups meeting, Saturday 1st December 2012 - (2012-11-27)
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  [3370] Standing Challenge - (2011-07-26)
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  [3328] Summer Sundays - days out by train from Swindon on the TransWilts - (2011-06-18)
  [3318] Summer Sunday Trains - outings from Swindon, Chippenham, Melksham, Trowbridge and Westbury - (2011-06-05)
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  [3273] Wanted - a look to the future - (2011-05-02)
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  [3187] Past and Present - Melksham Station - (2011-02-27)
  [3178] The cost of roadworks on the economy of our town - 1800 pounds per hour? - (2011-02-20)
  [3171] Train and boat journey - the passenger accommodation - (2011-02-15)
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  [3161] TransWilts rail - what picture represents us - (2011-02-08)
  [3141] Wiltshire Rail services - a golden opportunity - (2011-01-21)
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  [3119] TransWilts - some things to see and do - (2011-01-03)
  [3114] Transwilts Link - both Wiltshire and beyond - (2010-12-30)
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  [3111] TransWilts Link - Days out from Swindon to Weymouth? - (2010-12-28)
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  [3079] TransWilts Rail News ... Melksham (Santa Special) Edition ... 5th December 2010 - (2010-12-04)
  [3033] Rail services back to Radstock? - (2010-11-07)
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  [2982] Travel, Transport and Tourism - A vision for Melksham, 2026 - (2010-10-03)
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  [2931] Syncronise - software, trains, and buses. Please! - (2010-08-22)
  [2930] Walk - Tilehurst to Pangborne - (2010-08-21)
  [2919] London to Calne, Corsham, Melksham, Bradford-on-Avon, Chippenham by public Transport - (2010-08-13)
  [2908] How Green is my train? - (2010-08-07)
  [2901] Ambassador or Anorak? - (2010-08-03)
  [2855] Train Services - Melksham to Bath and Bristol (and airport) - (2010-07-05)
  [2808] From home to Nurnberg - journey pictures - (2010-06-13)
  [2696] Garlic bread without garlic - (2010-03-27)
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  [2664] Oliver Cromwell at Bristol Temple Meads - (2010-03-06)
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  [2568] Forums for your Melksham and open source discussions - (2010-01-09)
  [2557] Rail Campaign - response to core consultation - (2009-12-31)
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  [2522] Integrated public Transport - what could be done for Melksham - (2009-12-01)
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  [2473] Exploring Old Railways - (2009-10-24)
  [2457] Railway Arithmetic - (2009-10-16)
  [2438] Listening to The Minister - (2009-10-05)
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  [2391] Great Western Route Utilisation Strategy - Draft for Consultation - (2009-09-02)
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  [2057] Train and Coach fares from London (and airports) to Melksham - (2009-02-26)
  [2042] Wiltshire Rail Service Update - (2009-02-15)
  [2026] Melksham Climate Friendly Group - (2009-02-05)
  [2024] Carry on Training - in spite of the weather - (2009-02-03)
  [1999] How low can you sink? - (2009-01-17)
  [1966] Background to the TransWilts Train Fiasco - (2008-12-29)
  [1965] How much does a train service actually cost - (2008-12-29)
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  [1905] A Gold Star for First Great Western Customer Service - (2008-11-24)
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  [1848] 30th November - Santa Trip from Melksham - (2008-10-19)
  [1757] Preserved railways - struggling to the future? - (2008-08-17)
  [1729] Back from the future - (2008-07-30)
  [1708] A Train Service Update for Melksham Party in the Park - (2008-07-13)
  [1616] Not daring to be an anorak - (2008-04-19)
  [1567] Melksham - Swindon. Train v Bus v Car - (2008-03-07)
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  [1530] Railway Acronyms and Abbreviations - (2008-02-03)
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  [1428] Travel Across Wiltshire - the game - (2007-11-11)
  [1424] Closer than you think - the next step - (2007-11-08)
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  [1358] Look forward with a new broom - Wiltshire Train Service - (2007-09-19)
  [1314] Business travel by train in the USA - (2007-08-22)
  [1303] Heading Upstate New York - (2007-08-14)
  [1291] Day trip to Weymouth - (2007-08-05)
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  [1228] Some progress on the train campaign - (2007-06-10)
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  [1097] Train and business balls all in the air! - (2007-03-02)
  [1093] Wiltshire Train - can YOU come on 5th March? - (2007-02-25)
  [1076] Save the Train - an update - (2007-02-12)
  [1069] Rail trouble forced me to buy hotel - (2007-02-07)
  [1063] Bradford-on-Avon - 150 years of passenger trains - (2007-02-03)
  [1045] Bang! Train campaign hits home - (2007-01-19)
  [1044] Call for appropriate train services - Swindon, Bristol, Bath, West Wilts, Severn Beach etc - (2007-01-18)
  [1033] Empty at Easleigh, Missing at Melksham, Overflowing at Oldfield - (2007-01-14)
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  [952] Coming from London to Melksham by train for a course - (2006-11-28)
  [877] Yes, but what do we do now?? - (2006-09-24)
  [814] Melksham Railway Calendar 2007 - (2006-07-25)
  [803] Not shouting - (2006-07-16)
  [790] Shadow Transport Minister to visit Melksham - (2006-07-02)
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  [648] West Wilts Railway Users Group and trains to Lacock - (2006-03-16)
  [634] Real chance to make a difference - (2006-03-05)
  [632] Moral dilemma - (2006-03-04)
  [527] Greater Western Franchise Awarded - (2005-12-13)
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  [447] Tomorrow's meeting. - (2005-09-19)
  [434] Through public transport connection, Chippenham to Salisbury, to cease - (2005-09-02)
  [428] Swindon - Chippenham - Melksham - Trowbridge - Westbury train service - (2005-08-29)
  [154] Railway train service, Melksham station - (2004-12-17)


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