Skip to main content

Rail Services (Melksham, Wiltshire)

Volume 527: debated on Tuesday 26 April 2011

The Petition of Melksham Oak Community School and the people of Melksham in Wiltshire,

Declares that Melksham has one of the poorest train services in the country for a town of its size with only two services a day each way at times which are impractical for commuters; notes that travelling to work, school, or even visiting friends could be made easier with more trains on Wiltshire’s railway; and further notes that the Government will be reallocating a number of trains no longer needed in London and the South East to other parts of the rail network.

The Petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons calls upon the Government to allocate additional carriages for use on the TransWilts service between Swindon and Salisbury, calling at Melksham.

And the Petitioners remain, etc.—[Presented by Duncan Hames, Official Report, 3 March 2011; Vol. 524, c. 532.]


Observations from the Secretary of State for Transport, received 7 April 2011:

In the first instance, decisions on whether to provide financial support for additional local train services such as those requested for the Melksham line are primarily for local authorities rather than for the Department for Transport. In some circumstances, the Government may decide to relieve the local authority of the requirement to fund such additional services in the longer-term.

I made a written statement on 28 February 2011, Official Report, columns 17WS-18WS to clarify the Government’s position on support for additional local rail services. I said I was keen to encourage local bodies to identify the best solutions for identified local needs and therefore wished to ensure that they were not deterred from considering an improved rail service where it clearly offered value for money.

Nevertheless, the Government’s key priority remains one of reducing the budget deficit and, therefore, careful consideration has to be given to any proposal which might increase the cost of the railway, either in the short or long-term. However, we recognise the arguments put forward by promoters that regional and local rail services need to adapt to population, housing and economic growth in localities. Therefore, it is only right that, once they have demonstrated value for money after a trial period, new or improved services promoted by local authorities are treated in a similar way to the more established services which are currently funded as part of the national network.

It is important that a local authority promoter demonstrates that a rail scheme is the best way to address regional and local transport issues. Hence, promoters will still be expected to fund a new or enhanced service for the first three years to demonstrate its commitment to the service and show that it delivers value for money in the light of actual experience.