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Author Topic: An analysis of Frome  (Read 2363 times)
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« on: September 29, 2018, 04:44:14 pm »

I got somewhat carried away answering a Facebook post based on a Frome Times Article

Frome Town Council, led by resilience manager, Anna Francis and cllr Sheila Gore, are lobbying Somerset for a  better railway service.

Anna recently attended  Somerset County Council’s rail workshop for regional directors in Taunton. She was there to highlight the need for better rail services and links in Frome and the wider area. Somerset only has nine stations and Frome is the only town with a station in Mendip.

I'm not sure whether Somerset County Council are the best or only people to lobby but anyhow I wrote:

On Monday, trains leave Frome with final destinations of London Paddington. Cardiff, Filton Abbey Wood, Weymouth, Bristol Temple Meads, Swindon, Warminster and Yeovil Pen Mill.  Trains arrive also from London Waterloo and Yeovil Junction, but there are no direct trains from Frome to either of those. Looking across a whole week (and at times that engineering works are not reducing train runs), there are also trains or from Bristol Parkway, Weston-super-mare, Gloucester, Worcester Shrub Hill, Worcester Foregate Street and Great Malvern. Ironically, the only place not served by a direct train whe it could be is the county town of Taunton.  Many of the services are slow. None of them is frequent.  And chances are that if there's an outbound one that suits you down to the ground, the return service won't be so perfect and you may need to change trains.   Fares are at best erratic - there are some excellent / sensible fares, and some that will make you squeal in horror - but it's not all that easy to see the wood for the trees, in other words to discover how you can change your plans a little to save a lot using the fares that the railway markets - so (in theory) wants you to use.

Is this situation right / appropriate for the residents and businesses of Frome, and for people wanting to visit the town?  If not, can it be improved? 

I live in Melksham and visit Frome from time to time - so I'm not unaquainted with the town, and travelling to and from there.  Melksham is broadly comparable in population to Frome but (can you believe) five years ago we had just two trains each way per day.   Miss the 07:20 to Swindon and the next train was 19:47, miss the 06:38 to Westbury and the next train was 19:15. We have managed to have our service improved - it must be admitted only up to about the level that Frome enjoys - but we are seriously talking with the parties involved in specifying and providing the service about the next steps. It can be done. Key for us has been singleness of purpose - we have been specific in routes and requests, and co-ordinated around the town. We have worked closely with our council even though they have been budget constrained and not always as rail aware as we would wish.  We have worked with other towns up and down the route and indeed beyond to help put forward united suggestion that mean that one train serves multiple flows - not all of them Melksham. And we now have an established track record of improvements on which to build further.

South Western Railway under its new franchise that started last year was required to report to the Department for Transport on what to do about the Yeovil to Bristol corridor - and they ran a consultation looking for inputs in January.  I hope you made your views known. But if not, don't worry; things don't change overnight and if the town gets consistently lined up behind enhancement proposals they have a better chance.  Do your groups all work with the Heart of Wessex CRP which has a mandate for your line and station?  Are you members of TravelWatch SouthWest - the region's campaign and partnership co-ordination group?  If not ... timing is perfect as their general meeting is next Saturday in Taunton.

Members thoughts here (and signups for Taunton  Grin ) most welcome

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« Reply #1 on: September 29, 2018, 06:39:43 pm »

Incremental improvements are needed,  after all, Frome wasn’t built in a day...
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« Reply #2 on: September 30, 2018, 09:54:43 am »

A very good analysis, grahame.  The service for Frome is a bit like the Severn Beach was in the Olden Days, where you had to work some pretty unusual hours to be able to commute. That got mended, but Frome might be a bit more awkward, being on that loop. All roads do not, alas, lead to Frome.

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« Reply #3 on: September 30, 2018, 09:56:40 am »

For the sake of completing the normal and wide destination list from Frome. The 17.24 FRO continues to WAT via WSB. The 15.06 FRO after arriving at Yeovil Pen Mill continues swiftly to the Junction and WAT. Another destination is SOU on Saturdays (06.49) and on many Bank Holiday Mondays!

For the anti-clockwise SWR services, the electronic systems tend to show the destination as WSB, when in fact they all continue to SAL or WAT. The services receive a new reporting number at WSB so never mind the customers!

The article in the "Frome Times" was a little strange. This may reflect journalistic licence or alternatively some aspect of the actual meeting held at Somerset County Council. Having participated in the Somerset Travel Consultation exercise, I noted that it contained some rather strange aspirations especially with budgets very constrained. For rail, priorities included some wilder re-openings and the "Race to the West" saving a very few minutes. However, there were other positives.

I hope to speak to the representatives from Frome Town Council to find out exactly what happened.
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