West Wiltshire Rail Users Group - News

West Wiltshire Rail Users Group News and Newsletter

Sad Announcement

Roger Newman RIP

It is with deep regret that we have to announce the death of our former chairman and long-time rail campaigner Roger Newman. Roger passed away in the RUH in Bath in the early hours of Monday 23rd November. He leaves wife Jackie and son Timothy to whom we send our condolences. We will publish a tribute to Roger and his work campaigning for our local rail services in our next newsletter.

Tidy up for Westbury Station Garden.

Embankment at Westbury Station

Friends of Westbury station, including members of WWRUG and the Heart of Wessex CRP watch Cllr. Horace Prickett cutting the tape to unveil a transformed embankment next to the entrance to Westbury station. [Picture by Trevor Porter, Wiltshire Times].

Read the full article published on 30th November 2016 in Wiltshire Times here.

September Public Meeting - Melksham Past, Present and Future

WWRUG special train at Westbury

Departures screen showing WWRUG special train

On Friday 9th September 2016 we were delighted to receive a talk by Graham Ellis, Community Rail Officer for TransWilts CRP entitled 'Melksham Past, Present and Future' at the Railway Inn in Westbury. In conjunction with GWR a special train was arranged to enable anyone attending the talk to return to Melksham or Chippenham by train! This special left Westbury at 21:20 after the talk, returning from Chippenham to Westbury at 22:03, making use of a unit which would have otherwise been waiting over at Westbury. The slides from Graham's interesting and informative talk can be viewed here.

West Wiltshire Rail Users Group Newsletter

The WWRUG publishes a quarterly Newsletter which is sent out to all members, containing news relating to local rail services, reviews of recent WWRUG meetings, members travels, and other interesting articles. We don't publish this on the website, as we want to encourage membership of the group! However, the following two articles from recent Newsletters give an idea of the content.

The first, written by Mark Hopwood, managing director of FGW was published in issue 100 of the Newsletter in June 2011. (It has been edited slightly to remove some train times which have since changed - and could cause confusion).

The second was published in issue 107 of the Newsletter in March 2013. It details how the 4.25 million in funding secured by Wiltshire Council will be used to improve station facilities in West Wiltshire.

Station Improvements.

Wiltshire Council has successfully bid for 4.25M from the Government's Local Sustainable Transport Fund to improve the area's rail provision over the next three years. The Council is looking to invest in measures at the rail stations to turn them into sustainable transport hubs by improving facilities for pedestrians, cyclists and public transport users. Atkins have been appointed to develop a Travel Plan for each station in Wiltshire. They have studied each station and have identified for each station a number of issues and barriers to sustainable travel. Some of the problems they have identified are poor cycle facilities including a lack of secure parking, no walking and cycle routes with signposts to stations, insufficient car parking, lack of real time train information and incorrect signage, lack of branding and marketing and missed opportunities to promote rail in conjunction with special events. To assist they recently held a seminar attended by an invited audience to obtain further views on what is desired.

Looking at the stations in our area alphabetically:

Avoncliff - access is by steps and there is no onward travel information;

Bradford-on-Avon - a high level of bicycle thefts, insufficient cycle parking, incorrect signage and a barrow crossing used under staff guidance to avoid a long walk;

Dilton Marsh - long ramps are a disabled access problem, poor visibility at road on leaving the station and no dropped curbs;

Melksham - hidden from view, poor service of trains, no signs from bus stop and need for car parking;

Trowbridge - no bus stop in forecourt, pedestrian sign pointing wrong way, town map is behind a tree in the car park some distance from the platform exit and no signs from / to local bus stops;

Warminster - wheelchair access between platforms through an often flooded subway, bus information has routes but no times;

Westbury - uneven pavements in station entrance vicinity, main bus stops are 300 yards away in Station Road and road layout, recently constructed, makes bus access to station forecourt difficult.

Atkins will be seeing as to how many of these problems can be resolved with the finance available...


On behalf of everyone at First Great Western, I would like to offer my congratulations to the West Wilts Rail User Group on reaching the 100th edition of your excellent newsletter.

We have always valued the help and support, (and challenges!), that we have received from the Rail User Groups and Community Rail Partnerships in our region, support that has been of great assistance to us in the development of our timetables and services to best meet your needs. I know that I also speak on behalf of the many members of First Great Western through this and the previous franchise who have attended your meetings and listened to your views.

We are of course particularly pleased that we can now offer a new through high speed service to and from London Paddington for the residents of Bradford-on-Avon and Trowbridge. On weekdays, the first Westbury to London Paddington train now starts from Bristol Temple Meads, calling at Bradford-on-Avon and Trowbridge then running as before from Westbury to London. In the evenings, the 17.06 London Paddington to Westbury service has been diverted after Pewsey to call at Trowbridge, then Bradford-on-Avon, and going forward to Bath Spa and Bristol Temple Meads.

In addition, we are working in partnership with Wiltshire Council this summer to run a trial of extra Sunday services between Westbury and Swindon via Melksham. Running during July and August, there will be a morning service from Westbury to Swindon. Leaving Westbury at 07.30, it will call at Trowbridge, Melksham, then Chippenham, arriving at Swindon for connections to London. The train then returns from Swindon at 08.20, calling at Chippenham, Melksham, Trowbridge and Westbury, where it forms an early departure to Weymouth, offering a day out at the sea.

Looking a little further ahead, the forthcoming electrification of the Great Western Main Line from London to Bristol will also have a benefit to passengers journeying via Bath to London. Electrification will bring reductions in journey time and a more reliable, environmentally friendly service for our customers.

This is a crucial step forward in the revitalisation of the Western Route, and improved infrastructure coupled with new electric trains opens the door to more frequent services and further potential journey time savings, in line with the Great Western Route Utilisation Strategy published last year.

I acknowledge things don't always run smoothly, but together I believe we've made significant progress in recent times to deliver a better service. We now look forward to drawing on our unrivalled expertise and experience to bid for the new Great Western franchise and continue to develop key projects across our network. In the meantime we will continue to focus on delivering a high quality service for our customers throughout the remainder of the franchise.

Congratulations once again on reaching your 100th edition, and I look forward to continuing to work with you to deliver reliable and expanding rail services, now and hopefully over the next decade and through the next 100 issues.

Mark Hopwood, First Great Western Managing Director.