Great Western Railway (GWR) unveiled the first of a fleet of new Hitachi built trains on 30 June as part of a special journey celebrating 175 years to the day since the very first train ran on the line between Bristol and London.
On 11 July the New Intercity Express Train named Isambard Kingdom Brunel and Sir Daniel Gooch stopped at Swindon station on its way from London to Bristol to celebrate 175 years since the pair put to the original Great Western Company that Swindon should be the location of its locomotive repair works.
Built by Hitachi in Britain, the fleet is being introduced as part of the biggest investment on the railway line since Brunel and the GWR built it, including electrification of the Great Western Main Line. The new trains will include more seats, greater legroom, free WiFi, power sockets at each seat, LCD seat reservation indicators and increased space in overhead luggage racks. The trains will come into passenger service from summer 2017 on the Great Western Main Line, and from 2018 on services between London and Devon and Cornwall.
Great Western Railway Managing Director, Mark Hopwood, said: “On this special anniversary we are looking not just back at our rich heritage but forward at a transformational investment programme.
“The new trains will result in more frequent and faster journeys and an increase in the number of seats. These, and a range of further passenger benefits, will enable communities and businesses across the Great Western network to prosper and we are delighted to invite observers to witness first-hand the step change electrification and our new fleet will bring.”
GWR’s modernisation programme will see the age of the entire train fleet slashed by more than half and three million additional seats a year created once electrification is complete. The modernisation work by Network Rail will enhance 235 miles of what is one of Britain’s busiest and oldest railways, helping GWR better connect major towns and cities across the West, with faster, greener and quieter journeys.
Richard Wintle was present at Swindon station on 11 July as the new intercity expressed passed through. All photos ©Calyx
Watch a 360 degree drivers eye view from the cab of the new locomotive