TransWilts CIC and TransWilts Community Rail
Public and sustainable transport in Wiltshire

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What a difference a year makes

Until December last year, just two trains ran each way per day on the TransWilts, at times of day that fitted well with neither long distance single journeys nor daily commutes nor leisure days out. In Winter, the only time we saw a passenger train in the daylight was on a Saturday, when two of our quota were used up with one train each way used up within 30 minutes. The service was designed on a Monday to Friday to provide a commuter service, but failed in that design by running too early in the morning (06:12 from Swindon) and too late in the evening (20:20 back into Swindon) ... the 06:12 from Swindon and the 19:35 from Westbury rarely carrying more that 2 or 3 passengers, and the 07:04 from Westbury and 18:44 from Swindon carrying perhaps 20 to 25 people in total during the course of their journey, with much of that being Swindon - Chippenham and Trowbridge - Westbury passenger, where the services provided a supplement to the much more frequent trains that share those route sections. Total journeys per year, under 20,000


Pictured this December. We now have eight trains each way per day on the TransWilts - the original trains plus six other round trips. The original trains are now suitable for daily commutes, as there is a choice of "matching" return trains. The target initially was 45,000 journeys - excluding Swindon to Chippenham and Trowbridge to Westbury in the first year. As early as February, it looked like we were headed for 60,000, and we optimistically looked at our third year target of 108,000 and wondered if it could be achieved in the second year instead. Come June it was clear that we would be well over in the first year - data yet to be confirmed, but it looks like total journeys in the first year were over 160,000


There was always an expectation that the highest traffic would be on the 07:32 from Westbury and 17:36 from Swindon, and indeed that's were it's been. There was a fear that some of the passengers on the existing trains at 07:04 and 18:44 would actually be lost to the new trains. That may have happened with some people, but it's been more than made up by additional new traffic meaning that even the queiter old trains are busier. Significantly so in the case of the 07:04 and the 18:44, and dramatically so for the 06:12 and 19:35 - loading factors up 5 to 7 times. Part of that's marketing, but most of that is that daily commuters now have a way to get back.

Joining the Swindon train at TrowbridgeExtra traffic isn't limited to peak trains - outside the Monday to Friday rush hours there's over 30 people on many of the trains - and that compares very favourably (passengers per coach) with many other trains across the region and country. Saturdays at times can turn out to be even busier than Monday to Friday, and Sundays (train by train) are very much the same. There were 158 on the Santa train on 14th December - a bit of a cheat that figure, but then we had only sold 120 seats for Santa so that was 38 others on there, and on Saturday 20th I took a late morning run up from Melksham to Chippenham, back to Trowbridge, and home to Melksham again, and on those three trains counted over 190 people travelling. The second and third pictures show in this post were taken that morning. And I rather suspect that the figure of 117 (on a 78 coach train!) for the Saturdays 17:36 Swindon to Westbury was going to be exceeded.

Everyone's very positive about the service, and some on Saturday asked me to pass on a "Thank You" message to the team, which I'm doing. It's made, and is making. a significant difference for a lot of people!

There have been so many people involved in the partnership that's brought the service to where it is today, including unsung heros who've put in graft behind the scenes, including people who have been out at all hours and in all weathers, and including ambassadors who have spoken for the line to their friends and experts who have provided source data, ideas and encouragement to us. May I add my personal "Thank you" to you all too. It's been an honour and joy to hold the Press and Publicity role with the Community Rail Partnership.

2014 growth has been meteroic, and there's no reason why growth cannot continue, but not at such a rate, in 2015. However, TransWilts is going to face challenges. Electrification engineering works for the connected main line will result in diversons vis the TransWilts and significant timetable amendments in the summer. Train capacity issues will need to be resolved before there are routinely too many passengers for a "153" train to carry. And "what next" is on the agenda - what happens after the end of the three year trial in 2016; some mechanisms in place that "promise" the service will carry on, but with a possible change in government in May 2015, with the current government's newly published strategic transport newtork, worryingly, saying that passenger services won't have any significant effect if lots of freight is diverted along the TransWilts, and with (I note) through trains to the Stroud Valley line withdrawn over the New Year (as suggested in the next GW consultation, and strongly opposed locally), There is a lot of forward planning to do and a look must be taken at both the 2015 strategy and inputs for 2016, 2017 and beyond ... the rail industry, indeed, has some plans up to 2043 in place.

Gaining membership of ACoRP (Association of Community Rail Partnerships) in April has extended our access to experise and resources, and looking to move forward in 2015 we're planning to formaise our structure as a Community Interest Company at the AGM on 30th January 2015 within the existing constituation objectives. This will allow us to continue to develop integrated links with other lines and transport modes within Wiltshire and help us work with total journey opportunities and groups linked to them. We already host twice yearly "TransWilts Link" meetings; please note 21st March in your diary for the next one.

There are stocks of the 14th December to 16th May line guide and timetable at Well House Manor in Melksham if anyone would like to have a stock for their group / venue ... and please feel free to pickup individual copies from the TIC, Library, LA Diner or Town Hall. In Chippenham, Trowbridge and Westbury there are copies to be had at the station and in the TIC / Visitors centres too. The timetable brochure is also online at http://www.twcrp.org.uk/TWR_A4L-Winter.pdf

Services run from 27th December over the holiday period, but times are somewhat varied from the norm. See http://www.twcrp.org.uk/christmastrains2014.pdf for all the scheduled times over this period, including when the late night bus is running.
(written 2014-12-23, updated 2014-12-24)

 
Associated topics are indexed as below, or enter http://melksh.am/nnnn for individual articles
Z406 - TransWilts Community Rail Partnership
  [4739] A year of changes for Lisa and Graham Ellis, and Well House - (2017-05-27)
  [4726] TransWilts Partner Update for Melksham Area Board - (2016-11-07)
  [4706] Melksham trial train service is to be made permanent - (2016-10-02)
  [4704] Three months in community rail pictures - (2016-08-27)
  [4695] Melksham Rail Development Group becoming Melksham Rail Users Group - (2016-06-21)
  [4688] Melksham Station - as at May 2016 - Part 5 (services and prices) - (2016-05-30)
  [4647] On the problems of a printed train timetable - (2016-02-15)
  [4638] TransWilts Community Interest Company AGM - 13 Feb 2016, Swindon - (2016-02-05)
  [4612] TransWilts - robust these days - no longer the first service to be cancelled - (2016-01-03)
  [4601] Management view - TransWilts and transport at the end of 2015 - (2015-12-25)
  [4568] Moderation - and the tendency to over-moderate - (2015-11-02)
  [4513] Yesterday, Weymouth - (2015-08-02)
  [4512] The Weymouth Wizard - Saturdays in August from Wiltshire - (2015-07-31)
  [4510] Learning from the others - Community Rail - (2015-07-12)
  [4500] The TransWilts Community Intergrated Transport Corridor - (2015-05-29)
  [4497] Around the world from Melksham - (2015-05-25)
  [4494] Monday to Friday / TransWilts train times from 18 May to 11th December 2015 - (2015-05-17)
  [4467] Neighbourhood Plan - travel and transport thoughts - (2015-03-29)
  [4463] Rail Conference, Nottingham - (2015-03-16)
  [4435] Images of our rail promotion campaign - (2015-02-21)
  [4424] Looking Forward - TransWilts Community Rail Partnership and TransWilts CIC - (2015-02-12)
  [4397] TransWilts / Press and Publicity report for AGM / 30th January 2015 - (2015-01-17)
  [4371] Why are people using the TransWilts? - (2014-12-29)
  [4353] Celebration pictures, year 1 - (2014-12-15)
  [4351] A little thing can make a big difference - (2014-12-13)
  [4343] Politics and the railway the connects Wiltshire - (2014-12-06)
  [4328] Folk music train, Westbury to Swindon round trip, 14th December 2014 - (2014-11-24)
  [4313] Moving community rail support from amateur to professional - (2014-11-16)
  [4309] Even in the dark of night, the train comes bearing passengers - (2014-09-28)
  [4291] Train Online article - ACoRP / TransWilts introduction - (2014-07-25)
  [4288] Some questions on how our Community Rail Partnership works - (2014-07-13)
  [4287] TransWilts CRP - walking in Melksham Carnival - (2014-07-13)
  [4284] Talk and walk to promote train service - Melksham Carnival - (2014-07-11)
  [4243] Taking Greyhounds and Lurchers to London for the day - (2014-02-23)
  [4229] Thin end of the wedge - plan to be thicker in 2014 - (2013-12-26)
  [4225] Melksham Resident? Commuter? Save yourself 2000 pounds and 100 hours in 2014, and have a better journey! - (2013-12-20)
  [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)
  [4198] New trains for 2014 - Swindon to Westbury. Meetings Melksham, Swindon, Trowbridge, Chippenham and Westbury - (2013-10-24)
  [4196] Official - Trowbridge and Melksham to London train improvements - (2013-10-22)
  [4194] TransWilts Link - meeting notes from 19th October - (2013-10-20)
  [4191] Getting people to and from Melksham Station - not 20 but 700 times a day - (2013-10-12)
  [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)
  [4148] Special General Meeting, Adoption of Constitution for TransWilts Community Rail Partnership - (2013-08-01)
  [4142] Passenger survey at Chippenham - report and pictures - (2013-07-24)
  [3986] Rail services in Wiltshire - up in the air? We need to say what is best required. - (2013-01-20)
  [3881] Wiltshire Public Transport User Group co-ordination - (2012-10-05)


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A quiet evening in Melksham - awaiting Santa
Some other Articles
Changing what operators do on objects - a comparison across different programming languages
The changing face of Christmas
Christmas day in Melksham
A quiet evening in Melksham - awaiting Santa
What a difference a year makes
Multiple yields and no loops in a Python generator?
Python - comparison of old and new string formatters
How to avoid too many recalculations within an object
A brilliant finish to 2014 training and business guests, and a look to 2015
Seeing Christmas Coming to Melksham
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