Rail minister makes tracks for Melksham and Corsham
Railway minister Stephen Hammond, Michelle Donelan, Conservative parliamentary candidate for Chippenham, and Sion Bretton, chairman of TransWilts Community Rail Partnership
The Goverment’s railway minister made tracks for Melksham when as he stopped by to see how the town’s station was being improved.
And he backed a campaign to reopen Corsham's station, saying it could be up and running within seven years.
Stephen Hammond MP was shown details of the new timetables with Conservative Parliamentary candidate Michelle Donelan, and heard about the effect it the improved station was having on Melksham.
He said: “Melksham is growing and seeing new residential development, and this is exactly the sort of thing you need to have here for people, and to encourage new jobs.”
The station has benefited from recent improvements to the TransWilts rail line, and is now seeing eight trains pass through a day.
The TransWilts Community Rail Partnership has worked to enhance the station, which has just received a brand new shelter to help with the increased demand.
Chairman Sion Bretton, who met the minister, said: “It’s much better with the shelter in now, and more and more people are using the train.
“It’s not just for the people of Melksham, but for people coming to Melksham, whether visiting or working, and for people to get to Trowbridge or Chippenham.”
Mr Hammond then went to Corsham, which he said could have a working railway station again after meeting local campaigners.
He said: “The community’s case I have heard today is one of the most powerful cases I have heard.
“There is a revitalisation and regeneration of the town, but also there are also more people coming to live here.
“We need to make sure the business case is properly worked out, and Network Rail and the operator are involved, but it could go ahead in somewhere between five and seven years.”
The town’s station was closed in 1967, with local residents and councillors working for over 30 years to see it reopened.
Lib Dem Duncan Hames MP said: “I sent the minister a letter in November about the station and he was kind to acknowledge in his most recent response that I have a long-standing support of the campaign.
“We are a lot more optimistic in Wiltshire that we can turn around an old narrative of the decline of the railways, and I am committed to seeing a renaissance of the railways in the UK.”
The campaign has also been boosted by the mayor of Bristol’s plans to improve the wider Bristol area network, and has also received the support of Wiltshire Council and the Swindon and Wiltshire LEP, a network of local businesses working to promote economic growth in the county.
Corsham town and Wiltshire councillor Phillip Whalley, who was at the meeting, said: “I think there are a lot of things coming together now that really makes it exciting.
"We are probably in a better place now than we have been for 10 years.”
Town councillor Anne Lock, who has campaigned to reinstate the town’s station for almost 30 years, said: “It is very positive, and it’s nice to think that the minister has gone back to London with some of the detail from our historic surveys, which show the need for a station here.
“It’s great that all our local MPs are working together on a joint case for this area and are all singing from the same hymn sheet.”
The minister was invited to the town by Michelle Donelan, Conservative parliamentary candidate for Chippenham.
She said: “Corsham is a community that is growing, and on the doorstep it’s something people are passionate about.
“It was a good morning, and the minister was very much on board with helping push this through.”