A Melksham tribute to Class 153

Trains ... Swindon - Chippenham - Melksham - Trowbridge - Westbury ....... and connections to over 2,500 stations in Great Britain

HomeLive train departuresTimetableStation LocationFares, localFares, Bath & BristolFares, LondonOther Fare Information
Bus departures (Melksham town centre)Bus and train departures (at and near station)Buses serving Melksham
About Melksham2020 VisionNewsMeetingsPicturesOld PicturesVolunteersKnow your Melksham quizCampaigning tipsContact

Trains at Melksham

Class 153 trains - Melksham's saviours December 2013 to 2018

Now retiring from the rest of the GWR network

The final 5 "Class 153" trains are about to leave the West Country in coming weeks, and that's very much the end of an era. Capable of running as single carriage trains, they were converted from multi-carriage trains in 1991/2 to run thinly used services, they have done sterling work through nearly three decades.

Personally, I love the 153s - for the opportunity they gave us here in Melksham, and from Chippenham to Trowbridge, to have a trial service from December 2013 within the budget. They may have been a bit underpowered, they may not have been air conditioned, they may not have had wheelchair friendly loos, and the extra cab added in '91 might have been small and lacking comfort for the driver - but we loved 'em. They gave our residents the change to take up jobs in Swindon. To visit realtives in Southampton. To take day trips to Weymouth on a summer Sunday - they made a real difference. And, rattling along the main line towards Swindon, train manager checking tickets and selling to those who hadn't had an opportunity to buy, fresh air flowing around us as we chatted with friends, read the Metro, or checked our phones, they were a pleasure to use. The 17:36 off Swindon was carefully timed to follow the 17:30 express to Chippenham so that it didn't overload its precious capacity with main line passengers, but never the less there were those who preferred, and would wait, for the friendly train in preference to the faster but impersonal London express.

From early 2018, the single carriage 153s were replaced on the TransWilts by other units of two or even 3 carriages - and not a moment too soon. They had fulfilled their role, too well, and passenger number growth had halted because the train was full and standing, even the previous year. I well remember my final journey on a lone 153, the 17:36 Swindon to Westbury on the afternoon of Friday 15th June 2018. A hot afternoon, and the carriage was packed out. The train manager walked up alongside the carriage at Swindon, knocking on the windows and asking mid-carriage standees to move up so that more people could get on. A handful of GWR staff were travelling with us, and they squeezed into the rear cab to make more space. I found myself sardined alongside a couple from New Zealand, on holiday in the UK and amazed with the busyness and I was telling them about the success of this line, and how Community Rail played a part in its rebirth.

I miss the 153s - 153361 with its understated TransWilts celebration vinyls. Other with their much louder liveries. "Casper" the ghost 153 - in a neutral grey because he wasn't really supposed to be with GWR. They admirably filled the role for which they were converted, and in the process have perhaps saved several lines and enabled other trial services which have grown from seeds into flourishing services. Passenger traffic right across GWR land has blossomed in the three decades the 153s have been with us and it's a good time to say "Thank You, you have done a great job for us" and let them move on to doing a good job somewhere else; having proven or saved services, we're now onto multiple carriage trains with wheelchair loos, air conditioning and importantly space (at the moment) for everyone who wants to travel. Without the step via the 153s, I doubt we would have a service.

- Graham Ellis, vice chair of Melksham Rail User Group
- 5th March 2019

Image below under creative commons license by user Smithdo43172 - his own work on Wikipedia


Melksham Banner

Further pictures of class 153 on TransWilts services

Please send me any further memories


News and Upcoming ....

New: • Emergency contactsResources

Nest MRUG public meeting
18th March 2020 - see [here]

Sundays in January 2020 - due to engineering works, buses replace trains. Timetable here

Current timetables - January 2020
Train times [here]
Most bus times Faresaver
Bus times [First D3] - [here]
Other bus times Swindon's Bus Co.
Other bus times Town Bus
Long distance coach National Express
No changes expected in February or March

Rail fare pages - updated for 2020
Local fares [here]
London fares [here]
Bristol and Bath fares [here]
Day out and rover tickets - 2020 prices awaited

Report on 2019 and plans for 2020 - Pick up a copy of our report at area board, council and MRUG meetings in January or email to ask for a printed copy. Also availabe for download here

Report on reduction of station dwell time – three specific ideas for Melksham proposed by the Melksham Rail User Group in reply to request for suggestions from Mark Hopwood on 18th July 2019 for input by 24th July 2019 - [[here]]

New "Great West Way Discover" tickets launched - travel as much as you like on selected routes, two of the tickets include Melksham - great for a Staycation or for visitors to the UK who are staying with you for a while. There are now 10 different rangers and rovers that include Melksham - see [here] for a list including maps and prices.

Other sites to visit

Forum latest new topics

* End of large discount on season ticket by TFWales

* Problems at Bedminster and Parson Street on 23/01/20

* GWR to cease involvement with easitNETWORK, 31.3.2020

* Another curiosity for a Tilehurst rail user!

* 1B26 (17:17 London Paddington to Cardiff Central) - Wed 22/01/2020

* Alarming rise in use of on-train alarm systems

* Where does my pound go?