Over the weekend of 21st and 22nd October, volunteers from TransWilts Community Rail Partnership and Melksham Rail User Group surveyed all passengers departing through Melksham station.
Working with Great Western Railway, Wiltshire Council and Atkins the information gathered will be used to inform development planning for the station and services for future years.
"Passenger numbers at Melksham Station have rocketed in recent years" said Peter Blackburn, chair of the Melksham Rail User Group "and we need to ensure that trains and station facilities can cope with a rise that's predicted to continue". A longer platform and longer trains are scheduled for the New Year, a masterplan is being prepared for further development and easier access in the station area, and a capacity study being undertaken to see what needs to be done to run a more frequent train service.
"We gathered a lot of data and it will take some time to analyse" said Graham Ellis, Community Rail Officer for TransWilts, "but even as we talked to passengers I was struck by the wide variety of journeys being made, and not only in the UK. Passengers departed for Munster in Germany, for Liverpool and for London as well as lots of more local journeys to Bristol and to stations on the line itself - Swindon, Chippenham, Trowbridge and Westbury. Arriving passengers weren't surveyed, but I was talking to some people who had just come in from Hungary"
Graham continued "The surveys and success of the line couldn't happen without the incredible volunteer support we have, and I would like to thank everyone who turned out this weekend - Bob, David, Eddy, Helen, Horace, John, John, Judith, Lee, Olga, Pat, Richard, Roger, Rosemary, Stephanie and Tracey. The support of Great Western Railway and Wiltshire Council is also important, but most important of all is the support of the travelling public, without whom we would have no train service"
A current timetable for the TransWilts line, featuring GWR "The Famous Five", was included in the current edition of the Melksham Independent News. With the first Sunday morning train now running all year, Melksham residents are able to take Sunday jobs in nearby towns without requiring a car. Leisure and family days out, shopping trips and watching live sports are now possible on every day of the week. Further copies of the timetable are available at the Melksham Tourist Information Centre, or via the Melksham Rail User Group page at http://www.mrug.org.uk