Our community railway line can learn so much from other community railway lines - see what they have done, listen to what has worked for them and what hasn't, and adopt best practise, piggy-backing on the experience of others ... while at the same time taking a fresh look and trying out new things.
So we're a member of ACoRP - the Association of Community Rail Partnerships. We acheived quite a bit before we were admitted as members (and that was quite a stressful process, with high hurdles including prior acheivements to be jumped), but as members we gain links to experts and other CRPs and the Department for Transport which are extremely valuable in helping us be even more effective.
As well as listeing to others in ACoRP, part of the role of a member is to inform other CRPs and let them learn from our best practise, to get in touch with other CRPs in their area for mutual or group working, etc - and to aid this, ACoRP produce an online magazine called "Train Online" ... following on from this post is our introuctory submission for the forthcoming issue.
The Swindon to Westbury service, being fostered by the TransWilts Community Rail Partnership, saw an increase from 2 to 8 trains each way per day last December, funded under an LSTF grant for a trial 3 year period. The service runs from Swindon to Westbury via Chippenham, Melksham and Trowbridge, with the TransWilts trains being the only regular passenger trains on the single track section from Chippenham to Trowbridge.
With trains from Swindon at 06:12 and 18:44, the previous service wasn •t attractive to many customers, and there were just under 60 journeys a day made on the section unique to this service, with few of them getting on or off the train at Melksham, in spite of it being a town of some 24,000 people. The target in the first year is to raise the journeys on that section to 135 per day, and up to 320 per day by the end of the trial.
Wiltshire Council, First Great Western and the local volunteers have all been playing a major role in promoting the extra services (run by a single carriage class 153 train), and in promoting similar enhancements on Saturdays and Sundays too, and recent counts have recorded weekday passenger numbers just over 400 (regular working day) and 500 (half term).
Getting people onto the trains - especially from Melksham - is all about getting people to try something they •ve not done before as in essence it •s a service change that now meets a new market. So we •ve been promoting widely - local press, on line via Facebook, door to door leafletting, and even walking in the Melksham Carnival, which we did on 12th July aided by friends from FOSBR (Friends of Suburban Bristol Railways). They all arrived on the new train service (of course!) and the theme of our group was •Üthings you can take on the train •[9d]. We had pushchair, wheelchair, cycles, dogs, and suitcases with us - people from child-in-buggy right through to pensioner! And we handed out specially printed timetables with a selection of day out ideas and prices too.
Summer is the time that holiday-area community lines are busiest, but we •re not really a holiday line. Indications are that many of our 400 to 500 journeys are daily commutes, and with people moving home and / or job as they can do so. We •re displacing road traffic too, and although there •s free parking at Melksham station, it •s turned out that we •re pretty green - we have a free commuter rail link bus from the further suburbs to the station in the morning (and it waits for the trains in the evening if they •re delayed!) and lots of people are walking. But the story •s not just about Melksham •æ Trowbridge to Swindon is now direct (no dogleg via Bath Spa), faster and cheaper. And the direct train relieves overcrowding on the service into Bath, meaning that people are not being denied boarding so often due to overcrowding at Bradford-on-Avon.
A real win-win for the people of Wiltshire, and for the economy of the area. Even business visitors from London to the tyre factory in Melksham have started coming by train ...
1. Melksham Carnival, 12th July - the TransWilts Community Rail Partnership group passes the crowds lining the road
2. Melksham Carnival, 12th July - in Melksham Town Centre. Our group composed totally people and things you could take on the train
3. Our •ÜOut of Town •[9d] contingent - arrived at Melksham Station at 15:00 on 12th July for a talk on the Wiltshire, Somerset and Weymouth Railway and to walk in the carnival parade.
(written 2014-07-25, updated 2014-07-26)
Associated topics are indexed as below, or enter http://melksh.am/nnnn for individual articlesZ406 - TransWilts Community Rail Partnership 
TransWilts Partner Update for Melksham Area Board - (2016-11-07) 
Melksham trial train service is to be made permanent - (2016-10-02) 
Three months in community rail pictures - (2016-08-27) 
Melksham Rail Development Group becoming Melksham Rail Users Group - (2016-06-21) 
Melksham Station - as at May 2016 - Part 5 (services and prices) - (2016-05-30) 
On the problems of a printed train timetable - (2016-02-15) 
TransWilts Community Interest Company AGM - 13 Feb 2016, Swindon - (2016-02-05) 
TransWilts - robust these days - no longer the first service to be cancelled - (2016-01-03) 
Management view - TransWilts and transport at the end of 2015 - (2015-12-25) 
Moderation - and the tendency to over-moderate - (2015-11-02) 
Yesterday, Weymouth - (2015-08-02) 
The Weymouth Wizard - Saturdays in August from Wiltshire - (2015-07-31) 
Learning from the others - Community Rail - (2015-07-12) 
The TransWilts Community Intergrated Transport Corridor - (2015-05-29) 
Around the world from Melksham - (2015-05-25) 
Monday to Friday / TransWilts train times from 18 May to 11th December 2015 - (2015-05-17) 
Neighbourhood Plan - travel and transport thoughts - (2015-03-29) 
Rail Conference, Nottingham - (2015-03-16) 
Images of our rail promotion campaign - (2015-02-21) 
Looking Forward - TransWilts Community Rail Partnership and TransWilts CIC - (2015-02-12) 
TransWilts / Press and Publicity report for AGM / 30th January 2015 - (2015-01-17) 
Why are people using the TransWilts? - (2014-12-29) 
What a difference a year makes - (2014-12-23) 
Celebration pictures, year 1 - (2014-12-15) 
A little thing can make a big difference - (2014-12-13) 
Politics and the railway the connects Wiltshire - (2014-12-06) 
Folk music train, Westbury to Swindon round trip, 14th December 2014 - (2014-11-24) 
Moving community rail support from amateur to professional - (2014-11-16) 
Even in the dark of night, the train comes bearing passengers - (2014-09-28) 
Some questions on how our Community Rail Partnership works - (2014-07-13) 
TransWilts CRP - walking in Melksham Carnival - (2014-07-13) 
Talk and walk to promote train service - Melksham Carnival - (2014-07-11) 
Taking Greyhounds and Lurchers to London for the day - (2014-02-23) 
Thin end of the wedge - plan to be thicker in 2014 - (2013-12-26) 
Melksham Resident? Commuter? Save yourself 2000 pounds and 100 hours in 2014, and have a better journey! - (2013-12-20) 
TransWilts train services - up from 2 to 8 per day - (2013-12-09) 
A THANK YOU to those who have brought the new train service to fruition - (2013-12-06) 
New trains for 2014 - Swindon to Westbury. Meetings Melksham, Swindon, Trowbridge, Chippenham and Westbury - (2013-10-24) 
Official - Trowbridge and Melksham to London train improvements - (2013-10-22) 
TransWilts Link - meeting notes from 19th October - (2013-10-20) 
Getting people to and from Melksham Station - not 20 but 700 times a day - (2013-10-12) 
TransWilts Community Rail Partnership - formally constituted - (2013-09-01) 
Bank Holiday Monday - pictures of a great train trip to Weymouth - (2013-08-27) 
Special General Meeting, Adoption of Constitution for TransWilts Community Rail Partnership - (2013-08-01) 
Passenger survey at Chippenham - report and pictures - (2013-07-24) 
Rail services in Wiltshire - up in the air? We need to say what is best required. - (2013-01-20) 
Wiltshire Public Transport User Group co-ordination - (2012-10-05)
Some other Articles
A longer Python ... training courseA bright new gem - updated Ruby trainingCertificationThe Horse is back!Train Online article - ACoRP / TransWilts introductionNational Express replaced by train and by Megabus from Chippenham to LondonIt may be cheaper to buy in bulkReaction in Radstock to new First bus prices