Just 1 journey in 5 that’s made on a First Great Western train does NOT is completed with the traveller walking to the station at the start of his journey, and walking to his final destination at the other end too. The other 4 out of 5 journeys involve some other form of transport – be it bus or bicycle, private car or taxi, aircraft or ferry.
Therefore it’s vital than any transport system that’s going to work includes good integration of the modes – services that go to the same places, and at times that people can change from one to another; services about which information is easily available, even before you step out of your home to use them for the very first time; services on which through ticketing is available, and on which you know you’ll have a good fallback plan if you get held up, or one of the transport elements is delayed.
Integration modes – the TransWilts story
This is general text; prior to the proposed service improvements from December 2011, the Community Rail Partnership team will be adding details of each mode at each station, together with maps and other tips.
Buses call at some stations but not others on the TransWilts, but much more can yet be done to bring better interchange facilities to others, and even at those stations where the facilities exist, there’s often a need to adjust the routes to make sure that the services compliment each other rather than compete, that they time to connect, that information and through ticketing is readily available, and that there is near-100% reliability of connection, or an established backup plan that swings into action and does not delay people if a connection fails. Did you realise that if your First bus fails on its way to Chippenham station and you miss the First train as a result of that, your advanced ticket will be invalid and you’ll have to buy another train ticket from First … that’s the sort of thing that needs making fairer!
There are covered cycle racks at all stations except Dilton Marsh – though you leave your cycle at your own risk. You may also take your cycle on the train – see using the train page.
Cycle routes to the stations vary – there’s a good route from the Town Centre, which is connected to the National Cycle Network at Melksham, and a trail / route from Swindon out to Coate Water that’s largely clear of roads too.
Kiss and Ride
All stations have “Kiss and ride” facilities, where you can drop your partner / son / daughter / father / mother / sister / best friend off for their train, and pick them up – up to 20 minutes parking on railway business is free.
“Kiss and Ride” means that you can even drop someone off at one station in the morning and pick them up at another in the evening – a number of Melksham to Swindon commuters are dropped off at Melksham station at present, but often return just to Chippenham if their homeward journey does not co-incide with a train service.
Most stations have good car parks – but it can be expensive; at Chippenham you’ll pay £7.10 per vehicle per day – a little less at the weekend. Smaller stations cost less, and indeed (at present) car parking is free at Melksham station. You should allow plenty of time to park, pay for your parking, and buy your ticket; there have been occasions (none that I’m aware of in relation to catching TransWilts trains) where station car parks have been full, and trains missed as a result.
In the interest of the safety of suburban streets and community harmony, please do not park in residential roads near the stations, however tempting that might be!
With prior booking, taxis can be available for you at any station for the arrival or any train. You’ll also find taxis available “on demand” at the major stations at most times of day, though you may find them in short supply or completely absent soon after the arrival of a long distance trains, or very early in the morning / late in the evening
All stations are accessible on foot; some improvements in pedestrian access are needed at certain stations, where the station may be very close to businesses and residences, but it can be a long and sometimes dangerous walk around – Salisbury (now that the northern entrance is shut) and Melksham (for Foundry Close) are examples of this.
Other train services
There are many connections:
… at Swindon for Gloucester and Cheltenham, and for Didcot, Reading and London. Also for Bristol Parkway and South Wales
… at Chippenham for Bath and Bristol
… at Trowbridge for Bradford-on-Avon, Bath and Bristol and for South Wales
… at Westbury for Frome, Yeovil and Weymouth, for Taunton and the West of England, and for Pewsey, Newbury, Reading and London.
… at Salisbury for Exeter, for Southampton and Portsmouth, and for Andover, Basingstoke and London.
Further onward connections will take you to any other station on the National Rail network – that’s around 2500 stations, though there will occasionally be long waits for connections to reach some of the smaller stations.
Boats and planes The TransWilts connect at Westbury for trains to Weymouth, and at Salisbury for trains to Southampton and Portsmouth. Ferries run from these locations to France, to the Channel Islands, and to the Isle of Wight.
Your TransWilts train can also be the start of your journey to other ferry ports, such as Fishguard or Holyhead (for Ireland), Birkenhead (for Belfast), and Harwich (for the Netherlands and onwards continantal connections).
Southampton Airport can be reached by direct train from Salisbury, and Gatwick Airport by train from Reading, which in turn can be reached via connection at Swindon or Westbury.