Fleet upgrade to improve travel for Bristol customers
Monday 23rd March 2015
First Great Western has announced proposals to deliver the largest train fleet upgrade in a generation on the Great Western network as part of its plans for the new franchise that starts in September. The new franchise will run until at least April 2019.
From summer 2017 new Super Express Trains, introduced as part of the government’s Intercity Express Programme, will start taking over long distance services between London, Bristol and South Wales.
However the real step change for long distance services occurs from December 2018, when a major timetable change will unlock 45 more services a day between Bristol and London and faster services, using the new trains.
Bristol Temple Meads will receive a new faster intercity service via Bristol Parkway, supplementing the existing route via Bath, taking the total number of trains per hour to Bristol Temple Meads to 4 in the off peak and 5 in the peak. These changes will help cut journey times to and from the capital, making the fastest journey time from London to Bristol Temple Meads 79 minutes, compared to 96 today – 17 minutes faster.
There will also be more seats available for commuters as more modern Turbo trains, currently used on services in the Thames Valley, replace older trains currently in use on Bristol suburban services. These will create more than 3,400 additional seats around the city – a 52% increase compared to today. The key Cardiff-Bristol-Portsmouth services will be predominantly operated by five-carriage trains from May 2017 onwards.
By December 2018 all FGW trains in the Bristol area will offer free wifi.
In addition to these service and rolling stock enhancements the new franchise will see the installation of new ticket vending machines and CCTV at Keynsham and Oldfield Park stations.
FGW will continue to work closely with the West of England Partnership and others to develop the MetroWest proposals for strengthened local services and services over reopened lines. The first phase of MetroWest is due to be delivered in May 2019.
The company will expand the use of the GWR brand, currently used in its long distance First Class carriages and will begin its rebrand before the start of the new franchise in September.
First Great Western Managing Director Mark Hopwood said:
“I am pleased and proud that we will be running the Great Western network for another three and a half years. The Great Western network is already seeing the biggest investment since Brunel, and this deal has been designed to match that investment and ambition. It gives passengers newer trains, faster, more frequent services and importantly, given the growth this franchise has seen in recent years, more seats.
“I am particularly pleased that we have been able to announce these improvements for Bristol in its year as European Green Capital. We are a key partner, and the improvements we have agreed today can only encourage more people out of their cars and onto the train.”
Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin said: “I am determined that passengers in the West get a railway that is fit for the 21st century. This is a fantastic deal, which will give them more seats, more services and brand new fleets of modern trains.
“This government knows the importance of our railways. That is why they are a vital part of our long term economic plan, with over £38 billion being spent on the network between 2014 and 2019.”