THE opening of the new Melksham station car park extension was postponed on Friday because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Sophie Martin, community rail officer for TransWilts Community Rail Partnership, said Great Western Railway had asked for the opening to be postponed because of the coronavirus risk to the public.

TransWilts CIC, a community rail company working on the station improvements, had hoped to open a new extension to the car park.

Parking is operated by Smart Parking Ltd under contract to TransWilts. Parking charges for the main car park were introduced on August 1.

Paul Johnson, TransWilts chairman, said: “We’ll have free parking for motorbikes and more stands for cyclists.

"We’re introducing competitively-priced tariff car parking, cashless parking and EV charging. And this is just the beginning.”

The new Melksham Hub offers free short stay and disabled car parking, cycle parking, a cafe and an outdoor piazza area with toilets to come soon.

TransWilts has extended the car park it leases on Wiltshire Council-owned land because passenger numbers are forecast to rise.

Mr Johnson added: "With a community population of 30,867 we expect a substantial growth in passenger usage of up to 450,000 by 2026."

In 2011, Melksham station was used by only 11,000 commuters but since then passenger numbers have increased dramatically as the town has grown.

The Melksham Hub now serves more than 75,000 rail commuters who use the station to get to Chippenham, Swindon, Trowbridge,Westbury and beyond.

Parking charges at Melksham Hub have been set at a lower level than other station car parks in the area and any profits will be be invested back into the station facilities.

Cllr Bridget Wayman, Cabinet Member for Transport, said: “We’re delighted to work with TransWilts on this project to improve the facilities for rail users and the people of Melksham.

“This community partnership will help to improve public transport provision in Melksham, and indeed the rest of Wiltshire, as the TransWilts line links the county from Royal Wootton Bassett in the north to Salisbury in the south, and on to Swindon, London, and the south coast.”