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First way to get rid of customers

A course, three delegates... but not one brought their own car. I used to say to people that around 40% of our customers came by train, but this week it's 66% and that's not been unusual of late.

Anyone using the train knows it isn't easy - you just try to find out about it in Swindon, where it starts. Go up to the timetable sheets that list departures and you'll find no mention of Melksham on there... nor Trowbridge, nor Westbury. And you'll be lucky if the timetable racks contain the appropriate timetable. "Sorry - they're out of print" the young lady who was filling the rack on Saturday told me. "You could go up to the ticket counter and they'll print something out for you" she said, pointing me in the direction of a queue. "There's only three trains a day, otherwise you change at Bath".

It isn't as if these trains are unused, either. Here's a picture that I look last Saturday afternoon of a service that's to be withdrawn from December. Do you know what I think it is? Until last month, the train service to Melksham was run by Wessex Trains - part of National Express - and was a limb of their services that ran into First Group territory; it always felt like an unwelcome guest and information was hard to come by. The First Group told us that there would be no magic solution to all the problems and issues, but they did pull their finger out by removing the Wessex trains name from our station in the days BEFORE they took over, and getting new notices there within a couple of days and new uniforms for all their staff too, so surely they have now had plenty of time to put up fresh timetables to cover the new service they've just taken into their fold?

Here's the Saturday train again, on its way back to Melksham. Pretty busy, eh? Where's the "Fresh Air" that the previous secretary of state thinks our train is carrying around?

I don't actually object to the staff who fill the brochure rack at Swindon not knowing about train services, but I do object to them getting it wrong. There are NOT "only three trains a day", there are five. And you do NOT change at Bath at other times - or at least, if you change at Bath, it's a dogleg journey and a change into a BUS at the nearby bus station.

Was my experience unfortunate and unique? I wish it was!

On Monday morning, I went to meet a customer off the 09:12 and no-one arrived. Indeed the train looked very quiet indeed ... never seen it quite so bad for many months. The mystery was solved when we got a phone call from our customer telling us that he was stuck in Swindon; the London connection had been 20 minutes late, and so had missed it. I'm told that the staff at Swindon suggested he wait for the next train at about 14:30... indeed, they advised him that these were the ONLY TWO trains each day to Melksham ...

Isn't it ironic that with the huge increase in traffic on this line over the past few years, and with the roads getting more and more clogged, it IS to be killed back to 2 trains a day in the Autumn. Looks like the First staff at Swindon just can't wait for it to happen!
(written 2006-05-09, updated 2013-02-23)

Associated topics are indexed as below, or enter http://melksh.am/nnnn for individual articles
G101 - Well House Consultants - Getting to and from Melksham
  [4701] Pretty at the station too - (2016-07-06)
  [4168] Travelling to and from courses - much easier from December 2013 - (2013-09-08)
  [3752] Melksham Visitors Map - Bus routes and train lines to and from the town - (2012-06-04)
  [3751] Public transport for international arrivals into Melksham - (2012-06-04)
  [3276] International travel to the UK - coming to Melksham - (2011-05-03)
  [2791] Bath to Melksham buses - times - (2010-06-03)
  [2789] Melksham to London (Heathrow, and Central London) - (2010-06-02)
  [2634] London to and from Melksham by public transport - (2010-02-13)
  [2493] Melksham buses to/from Chippenham, Trowbridge, Bath, Devizes, London - (2009-11-05)
  [2367] Learning to program - how to jump the first hurdles - (2009-08-20)
  [2057] Train and Coach fares from London (and airports) to Melksham - (2009-02-26)
  [1997] Travelling to a course - station pickups - (2009-01-16)
  [1802] Motorcycles welcome at Well House Manor - (2008-09-19)
  [1723] Bath - Melksham - Devizes. Bus route changes, new timetable - (2008-07-26)
  [1594] Please support improvements in our train service - (2008-03-28)
  [1567] Melksham - Swindon. Train v Bus v Car - (2008-03-07)
  [1511] Buses from Well House Manor, Melksham, to Bath - (2008-01-18)
  [1428] Travel Across Wiltshire - the game - (2007-11-11)
  [1085] Lawrence Webb's Melksham Taxi service - (2007-02-18)
  [952] Coming from London to Melksham by train for a course - (2006-11-28)
  [856] The train returns for a few weeks - (2006-09-05)
  [814] Melksham Railway Calendar 2007 - (2006-07-25)
  [796] Busy day in Melksham - (2006-07-08)
  [790] Shadow Transport Minister to visit Melksham - (2006-07-02)
  [606] Train service from December - (2006-02-14)
  [538] A company we can work with - (2005-12-23)
  [486] Rail services under threat - Swindon, Melksham ... and Newquay and Bicester too - (2005-11-05)
  [413] Save the train - (2005-08-13)
  [187] a popular bus number - (2005-01-23)
  [154] Railway train service, Melksham station - (2004-12-17)
  [40] Take the train to training - (2004-09-06)

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