I’ve just read an article in the Adver that says the twice daily train that runs between Westbury and Swindon is about to receive a £1.2m subside, that means for the next two years it will run eight times a day.

The Adver, with the obvious mantle to champion the cause of Swindon, says this will potentially be a boost to local firms, as central Wiltshire gains greater access to the shopping malls of central Swindon.

I love trains, probably because I use them so infrequently that every time I do it’s an adventure. Sometimes I’ll build a day out, specifically so I can use one.

My closest railway station is in a town six miles away, and I can catch a train from there that will get me to the centre of Bath in nine minutes. Just how brilliant is that?

Sometimes I’ll drive to Bradford on Avon, take a train along a different line to Bath and walk back along the Kennet and Avon canal tow path. I get to see some great countryside, some minor shopping (I need to carry it back in a rucksack after all), then an eleven mile yomp back, stopping at the Cross Guns at Avoncliffe or the Hop Pole at Limpley Stoke en route for some lunch.

Or take the train in the other direction, travel south through the county to Salisbury and see Wiltshire’s more civilised, less touristy alternative to Oxfordshire’s county city.

Either way what a great way to spend a day, but had I the need to rely on trains to commute to work I’m sure my opinion might be coloured differently.

All this pontificating gets me back to the Adver’s article, which to me is only half the story.

First of all, if someone living in Westbury has always fancied working at somewhere like Allied Dunbar (ah… that might by called something different these days), but knew the hour long commute each way would make it intolerable, hopping on the train for work might make it far more palatable.

So should that person get a job there, they would earn money in Swindon, but take it home to spend in Westbury. That’s effectively taking money from Swindon and redistributing it elsewhere in the county.

Perhaps not what the Chamber of Commerce anticipated.

But more importantly, think of the opportunities the extra trains offer Swindonians.
Westbury, and its surrounding area is a great location.

Jump on the train to Westbury, take some sturdy footwear and walk up to the Imber Range Perimeter Path.

Take a long look at the Westbury White Horse, (OK, not my favourite Wiltshire White Horse due to its cementing over… but still an impressive sight) and maybe watch the hang gliders there. Then walk a section of the 30 mile path around the military range.

No, it’s not dangerous!

But the diversity of wildlife and the view of God’s Own County are fantastic. With a little prior research and timing and you can walk right into the abandoned village of Imber, with all the history, nostalgia and heartache that village engenders.

I can almost envisage the pastel-shaded railway posters of yesteryear. ‘Come to Wiltshire. A land of mystique and beauty’.

Come on you town-loving Swindonians. Chance your arms and see what the countryside is all about.