Today, railway company First Great Western will be re-named Great Western Railway (GWR) as it marks the biggest investment in the railways since Brunel. The re-brand is centred on the company’s commitment to putting its people and customers first.
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.
Central to GWR's activity is an improvement package, put together with the Department of Transport (DfT), which 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, a massive fleet upgrade will see new or more modern trains, all with free WiFi, on every area of the network by December 2018. During the same time frame, the addition of new trains will slash the average age of First Great Western’s train fleet by more than half – and also help to create three million additional seats across the network.
A major timetable change in December 2018 will see quicker train journeys across the route with a reduction of journey times between South Wales, Bristol and London, shaving travel time into Bristol by up to 17 minutes and Cardiff by up to 14 minutes.
These new services will also see more direct trains into Devon and double the number of trains into and out of Cornwall. This will be supported by 100 extra members of customer-facing staff, and the introduction of dedicated Customer Ambassadors at key stations across the route to help customers with local information, directions and onward travel options.
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 Develop Agency (now LEPs) has shown that 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 redevelop branch lines, offer free travel to jobseekers on their way to interviews and introduce a paid work placement programme for the long term unemployed.
FirstGroup Chief Executive Tim O'Toole said: “FirstGroup is the proud operator of GWR, a railway steeped in years of tradition, and our new brand for the franchise represents this strong heritage.”
Customers can find out more about the planned improvements on our Building a Greater West pages.