MEMBERS of the TransWilts Community Rail Partnership in Melksham are celebrating after receiving a government fund to boost tourism.

The group, which works with train companies, councils and community groups, wants to promote tourism on the TransWilts line between Swindon and Westbury.

The Government’s Designated Community Rail Development Fund (DCRDF) awarded £3,500 to the group just days after a visit from the rail minister Paul Maynard. Mr Maynard visited the rail systems manufacturers Knorr-Bremse in Bowerhill and took the TransWilts line from Swindon on March 2.

Community rail officer Graham Ellis said: "Passenger numbers on TransWilts have grown rapidly over recent years, with Melksham station having the biggest percentage increase in passenger numbers of any station in England. This growth has been based largely on local journeys, and we’re delighted that the government has given us this grant to promote tourism and leisure on Wiltshire’s train services which will help secure off-peak trains and bring new visitors to our towns”

Great Western Railway has also welcomed the extra boost in funding.

Regional development manager Matt Barnes said: “Community rail groups play a leading role in helping to improve services and stations across the country, as we have seen here on the TransWilts.

“Working with Wiltshire Council and the TransWilts CRP we have been able to launch additional services on this line, improving rail links and further supporting the local economy. I am delighted that TransWilts will be better able to continue this valuable work.”