A Community Rail Partnership connects the rail industry, government and regulators groups, and local communities to help maximise the potential of the train service to serve those communities, and to maximise the usage of those services by that community.

The TransWilts Community Rail Partnership

The TransWilts Community Rail Partnership covers the route / service from Swindon to Salisbury, linking the major population centres in Wiltshire. The partnership is a recent one – set up in 2010 and operating on an informal basis though that year. The level of service on the TransWilts line in recent years has been lower than that on most other lines supported by a CRP, and so we took this initial exploratory approach

Network Rail’s Greater Western Route Utilisation Strategy, published a few days after our inaugural meeting, concluded a very strong benefit to cost ratio for providing an additional hourly service on the line, rather confirming our own initial conclusions. However, trains don’t just materialise out of thin air, timescales are long, and on an annual cycle – so much of 2010 was spent in groundwork and preparations. Yes – we do want to boost the use of the existing service, but at the same time work with everyone concerned for an appropriate service which will give several orders of magnitude more journey opportunities, meeting very real requirements and solving very real travel issues that we (at the CRP) hear about on a daily basis.

Starting late in 2010, and in early 2011, there’s a very real opportunity to put all of the ducks in a line and have an appropriate service running from this December. It does require some administration / government decisions in our favour on things like the allocation of stock, but there’s been a “sea change” in attitude over the past two years, swinging in favour of our agenda, and we’re getting true and vigorous support from our new MP, our new cabinet members at Wiltshire Council, and the Wessex association of chambers of commerce. Indeed, there organisations have set up a “TransWilts Rail” umbrella organisation, including the Community Rail Partnership, to take the scheme forward.

We don’t know what the next months will bring. We’re working hard for a positive outcome and for the arrival of more services next year; we should know how that looks by late spring. Should such a service be forthcoming, we’ll be developing community awareness and traffic on the existing services this summer to help ensure an excellent takeup next year – and this will include working with authorities to make use of public owned land to provide extra car parking that will be needed at Melksham, to improve station accesses, etc. Should, after all, we find that there’s no great service change in 2012, we’ll still be looking to boost traffic this summer, and make improvements ourselves, small suggestions along the way, etc – but at a far lower level.

With an anticipated service improvement, we’ll look to move across to a funded partnership; if we’re to remain in a more caretaker roll for a further year or more, though, we’ll continue to operate as a total voluntary group at a considerably lower level of activity – but still very much here and maximising the use of the line.

See [here] to get an idea of some of our successes already, and our current and future activities.

Announcement – April 2011

In March 2011, the TransWilts Community Rail Partnership formally asked if it could become a member of ACoRP – the Association of Community Rail Partnerships. The Partnership was informed that it wasn’t eligible to join:

“””As you know, all applications for full membership of ACoRP have to be agreed by the ACoRP board. On this occasion I’m afraid the Trans Wilts application has not been approved as it was felt that your organisation did not yet meet the criteria or ethos of a community rail partnership.

ACoRP’s primary purpose is to promote existing train services and work co-operatively with the TOC and other members of the rail industry. Our remit does not extend to re-openings or major train service development, although of course we do take an interest in these projects.

Given the current lack of train services on your route therefore and the campaigning nature of Trans Wilts, we believe that a better home for your organisation currently would be RailFuture. Of course, should you be successful in getting an improved train service, when Community Rail practices can be implemented to encourage communities along the line to use the trains, we would be happy to re-consider your application.”””

The TransWilts Community Rail Partnership would like to thank the Association of Community Rail Partnerships for looking into their possible membership, and for the explanation of their decision. The TWCRP has asked ACoRP for clarification of several issues raised by the explanation, and may consider reapplying at some date in the future in the light of answers received, and the future course of events.