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TransWilts - robust these days - no longer the first service to be cancelled

Even in the best regulated systems, things will occasionally go wrong. And the question comes for the people who's role it is to look after these things "what do we do when it happens?"

The TransWilts train service - currently from Swindon to Westbury - is operated for 90% of its journeys by a train that's based / serviced in Bristol / Exeter ... it parks up each night in a siding at Westbury, and at some point each day a new (cleaned, refuelled) train arrives attached to a service to there from Bristol, the trains are swapped over, and the one that needs cleaning and refuelling goes back to Bristol on a later train. And with this remoteness from base, if something goes wrong with the train it's not just a question of replacing it with a spare one. There is no spare anywhere near!

Looking back three, or six, or nine years, the effect of the TransWilts train breaking down was a suspension of the service. In the list of priorities, it was regarded as the most expendable, and indeed in the winter of 2006 / 2007 the cancellation rate was some 30%. Not that, frankly, it mattered very much because that was just a month into a new timetable which, clever though it was at meeting government service requirements, wasn't carrying more than a handful of passengers. But this "first train to be cancelled" policy has come to matter more - much more - over the last couple of years.

In the year to March 1998, there were 3868 train journeys per day made to or from Melksham. That had dropped to 3266 by the year ending March 2001. By the year ending March 2006, that had risen to 24,426 journeys - but alas the unreliability and poorly timed remaining servives from December 2006 dropped usage back to a low point of 10,028 by the year to March 2010. Even this figure is questionable, as it comes from ticket sales and at that time it was cheaper to buy a Melksham to Bristol ticket than a Trowbridge or Bradford-on-Avon to Bristol ticket, and my own observations would suggest that real journey numbers were around the 5,000 mark. But look at the figures now - up from 12,080 (year to March 2013), 23,930 (year to March 2014) and 51,858 (year to March 2015). I wouldn't be surpised to see a further rise of 20,000 in the year to March 2016 - I'm guessing around 72,000 journeys although the figure will be distorted due to six weeks of significnat service changes (including lots of bus replacement) due to engineering works.

So the "first train cancelled" policy would have seriously effected around 30 journeys a day at the start of this decade (about a third of journeys on the line are to / from Melksham), whereas this year the same policy would effect around 500 journeys. And the effect of cancelling this train - with a service every 2 hours - if much greater than cancelling a service that runs 2 or 3 times an hour, where people can just wait for the next train.

Even in the best regulated systems, things will occasionally go wrong. Back to where I started.

On Monday, 21st December a failure of the train meant that it couldn't be used ... and rather than wait for the standard cycle of units, a carriage was grabbed off the back of a Bristol commuter train and sent over to Westbury attached to "The Portsmouth". Good - a couple of services lost, but operation resumed for the busiest (full and standing) trains of the day.

And today - Sunday 3rd January - another failure. This time, a 2 coach train at Westbury happened to be of the type that could be split into two single carriage trains, and that was done - no cancellations at all, and just a delay of 17 minutes on one service and 4 minutes on the next. Excellent work - and excellent too because actions, as well as words, show that TransWilts is no longer the bottom of the pile. Mind you - with 500 rather that 30 journeys effected on a daily basis, it also makes commercial sense to avoid 4 hour gaps between services ...

Note - where a train's cancelled, GWR will often provide you with an alternative. If the journey can be made by train within an hour anyway, you'll be expected to wait for that alternative - but if there's no such option then they'll usually provide alternative road transport - buses or taxis. There are some exceptional circumstances - such as bad weather making travel by any means dangerous - where an alternative may not be offered.



This diagram shows a screen capture from JourneyCheck, and another from TransWilts Station Enquiry page
(written 2016-01-03)

 
Associated topics are indexed as below, or enter http://melksh.am/nnnn for individual articles
Z406 - TransWilts Community Rail Partnership
  [4726] TransWilts Partner Update for Melksham Area Board - (2016-11-07)
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  [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)
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  [4601] Management view - TransWilts and transport at the end of 2015 - (2015-12-25)
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  [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)
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  [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)
  [4362] What a difference a year makes - (2014-12-23)
  [4353] Celebration pictures, year 1 - (2014-12-15)
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  [4328] Folk music train, Westbury to Swindon round trip, 14th December 2014 - (2014-11-24)
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  [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)
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  [4229] Thin end of the wedge - plan to be thicker in 2014 - (2013-12-26)
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  [4219] TransWilts train services - up from 2 to 8 per day - (2013-12-09)
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  [4196] Official - Trowbridge and Melksham to London train improvements - (2013-10-22)
  [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)
  [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)

Z501 - Public Transport - Rail
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  [4699] Melksham Rail Development Group - a celebration of 20 years - (2016-06-25)
  [4687] Melksham Station - as at May 2016 - Part 4 - (2016-05-30)
  [4686] Melksham Station - as at May 2016 - Part 3 - (2016-05-29)
  [4685] Melksham Station - as at May 2016 - Part 2 - (2016-05-29)
  [4684] Melksham Station - as at May 2016 - Part 1 - (2016-05-28)
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  [4636] Rail user groups worried about what is happening on the buses - (2016-01-31)
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  [4250] Lacock Halt - former TransWilts Station - (2014-03-23)
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  [4224] TransWilts - first day pictures - (2013-12-18)
  [4217] New train service - launch plans and timetable links - (2013-12-03)
  [4216] Los Angeles - post modern transport system - (2013-11-27)
  [4202] Excellent Railfuture conference, but some setup lessons - (2013-11-03)
  [4199] Draft Westbury - Melksham - Swindon train times, from December 2014 - (2013-10-24)
  [4195] Booking for Santa, Melksham Railway Development Group, 8th December 2013 - (2013-10-21)
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  [4185] TransWilts Trains - running a successful campaign talk - (2013-10-05)
  [4176] International and off island travel from Melksham - (2013-09-16)
  [4173] Train and Rail Travel - who runs it and where do I ask questions? - (2013-09-13)
  [4159] People WILL walk to the station in Melksham, but they need a path and trains - (2013-08-25)
  [4154] August Bank Holiday - day out from Melksham to London or Weymouth - (2013-08-20)
  [4150] Melksham Regular Public Transport Map - as at August 2013 - (2013-08-09)
  [4146] A few more trains means a LOT more passengers. Why? - (2013-07-30)
  [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)
  [4105] Our day trip by train from Swindon, Chippenham and Melksham to Weymouth - (2013-05-28)
  [4104] Weymouth vis the TransWilts - the day out today - (2013-05-27)
  [4080] Fancy a day at the seaside? Weymouth from Melksham - (2013-05-06)
  [4040] Report on the last year - Melksham Railway Developement Group for Melksham Without Parish Council - (2013-03-11)
  [4022] A request for all of Melksham transport groups to work integrated - (2013-03-01)
  [3995] Onward from Brussels - (2013-02-04)
  [3994] On board Eurostar - a running commentary - (2013-02-04)
  [3993] Two trains a day ... how many fares to London? Guess! - (2013-02-04)
  [3942] Santa Trip - Melksham Railway Development Group, 2012 - (2012-12-03)
  [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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  [3904] Want to help us improve transport in Wiltshire? Here is how! - (2012-10-26)
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  [3882] Community Transport - Pewsey, Taunton, and the whole picture too - (2012-10-06)
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  [3873] Henbury loop, Bristol - a freight railway line with passenger potential? - (2012-09-29)
  [3872] Trains across Wiltshire - an update on the TransWilts - (2012-09-28)
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  [3815] The Melksham News - July 2012 - Part 2, TransWilts Rail, Wilts and Berks Canal - (2012-07-23)
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  [3802] What a difference a year makes - (2012-07-10)
  [3795] Like a bathroom company with no plumbers - (2012-07-04)
  [3793] Excellent Rail News - what it really means - (2012-07-01)
  [3786] Improving Wiltshire Rail Offer - it WILL be happening - (2012-06-28)
  [3784] Steam train calls at Melksham - Pictures - (2012-06-26)
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  [3434] Sundays - and over eating - (2011-09-11)
  [3410] A review of the Summer Sunday extra trains on the TransWilts line - (2011-08-29)
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  [3378] New product - ensuring that supply matches demand - (2011-08-03)
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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)
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  [3031] Get all your ducks in a row ... and they may turn into swans - (2010-11-06)
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  [2901] Ambassador or Anorak? - (2010-08-03)
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  [2664] Oliver Cromwell at Bristol Temple Meads - (2010-03-06)
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  [2626] On Malachite Green - (2010-02-06)
  [2568] Forums for your Melksham and open source discussions - (2010-01-09)
  [2557] Rail Campaign - response to core consultation - (2009-12-31)
  [2556] Railway Station Survey - please complete today or tomorrow - (2009-12-30)
  [2533] Five guests, three groups, one car - (2009-12-11)
  [2529] Santa Special, 2009 - (2009-12-06)
  [2522] Integrated public Transport - what could be done for Melksham - (2009-12-01)
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  [2511] The story of the railway land at Melksham Station - (2009-11-24)
  [2486] Santa Special - Trowbridge and Melksham to Swindon - (2009-10-31)
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  [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)
  [2372] Public Transport from (and to) Melksham on Sundays - (2009-08-23)
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  [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)
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  [1708] A Train Service Update for Melksham Party in the Park - (2008-07-13)
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  [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)
  [1382] First Great Western - information for customers - (2007-10-07)
  [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)
  [1274] Radio coverage for railway issues - (2007-07-23)
  [1273] Melksham or Weymouth? Meal or day out? - (2007-07-23)
  [1228] Some progress on the train campaign - (2007-06-10)
  [1139] Overcrowded trains around Bristol - (2007-04-08)
  [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)
  [976] Santa at the station - (2006-12-09)
  [974] The last commuter train through Melksham - (2006-12-09)
  [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)
  [697] For any North and West Wilts and Swindon Readers - (2006-04-23)
  [688] Are you free on Friday evening? - (2006-04-18)
  [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)
  [524] Santa comes to Melksham - (2005-12-11)
  [521] Proof needed? Please just use common sense! - (2005-12-08)
  [488] Looking for railway groups and users - Swindon, Salisbury, Southampton - (2005-11-06)
  [486] Rail services under threat - Swindon, Melksham ... and Newquay and Bicester too - (2005-11-05)
  [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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