It has been announced that rail company, First Great Western, will be re-named as Great Western Railway (GWR) this Sunday (20th September), as it marks the biggest investment in the railway since Brunel’s time.
The investment totals £7.5 billion in on-going improvements to the rail network, in addition to a massive fleet upgrade to introduce new or more modern trains.
The new trains will offer free WiFi and also help to create three million additional seats across the network. Independent research conducted for the South West Economic Regional Develop Agency (now LEPs) has shown that electrification will boost the South West economy by £120m per year alone.
Inspired by the legacy of Brunel, the new branding is a modern adaptation of the traditional Great Western Railway look and feel, drawing on its 182-year-old heritage to inspire a new identity. As part of the new look, travellers will soon be able to see refreshed branding, new uniforms and the phased introduction of new train liveries.
This transformation will deliver huge benefits to passengers in terms of journey times, capacity and reliability. Alongside the ongoing £7.5 billion investment in improvements to the rail network, customers will be able to enjoy new or more modern trains, all with free WiFi, on every area of the network by December 2018.
A massive fleet upgrade will see new or modernised trains coming to the region from 2017 onwards. This will slash the average age of the train fleet by more than half and also help to create three million additional seats across the network. New Super Express Trains will provide improvements in rolling stock quality and passenger comfort. These ten carriage trains will have 15% more standard class seats on peak services than those on the route today, with five trains an hour connecting Swindon to London and Bristol.
A major timetable change will see quicker train journeys, helping both customers and businesses get to where they need to be more efficiently. There will be more services from London to Cheltenham, via Swindon, with hourly intercity services replacing almost all the local services. An additional local service will be provided between Swindon and Gloucester in the morning peak and from Gloucester to Swindon in the evening peak.
Transwilts services, boosted by remarkable growth since new services were introduced in 2013 with the support of Wiltshire Council, will continue to run and single carriage trains will be doubled to two carriages from May 2017.
Higher capacity five-carriage Turbo trains will replace older vehicles on the popular Cardiff-Portsmouth route through Wiltshire from 2017.
The on-board experience for customers will also be upgraded, supported by 100 extra members of customer-facing staff on long-distance services. Dedicated customer hosts will offer a more personalised at-seat service and our new trains will all be equipped with free WiFi. We’re also investing £50 million to improve stations across the network. New gatelines will be installed at Chippenham station and we’re working with our partners to plan further improvements to the station.
The new franchise coincides with a rebrand, as First Great Western is re-named Great Western Railway (GWR). Inspired by the legacy of Brunel, the new branding is a modern adaptation of the traditional Great Western Railway look and feel, drawing on its 182-year-old heritage to inspire a new identity. As part of the new look, travellers in Swindon and Wiltshire will soon be able to see refreshed branding, new uniforms and the phased introduction of new train liveries.
Local businesses also stand to benefit as a result of being better connected to new and prosperous markets. Independent research conducted for the South West Economic Regional Development Agency (now LEPs) has shown that once completed, electrification will boost the South West economy by £120m per year alone.
Great Western Railway Managing Director, Mark Hopwood said: “This investment represents a historic milestone for us and so it was a perfect opportunity to launch the Great Western Railway once again. We are committed to improving the journeys of our passengers, as well as the economic prosperity and social footprint of the regions and communities we serve. It’s a new dawn for our railway and we’re excited to be at the helm.”
Local communities along the Great Western Railway service will also benefit from financial support. A £2.2m Customer and Communities Improvement Fund, which will support areas of the railway where there is a real social need will be deployed, as well as a commitment to continue to develop existing branch lines, offer free travel to jobseekers on their way to interviews and introduce a paid work placement programme for the long term unemployed.
Customers can find out more about the planned improvements at https://www.firstgreatwestern.co.uk/about-us/greater-west