Massive increase in Bristol train seats begins today

Monday 03rd July 2017

Over 35% more seats and better trains for Severn Beach Line as Great Western modernisation work continues.

The Seven Beach Line is to benefit from 35% more seats, and better, more modern trains as Great Western Railway begins its plan to modernise services throughout the city.

The improved Severn Beach Line service, towards Bristol Temple Meads in the morning peak and away from Bristol in the evening peak, marks the beginning of a fleet upgrade which will see capacity on Bristol suburban services increase by 52%.

Replacing older trains with three carriage ‘Turbo’ units with more seats, air conditioning, WiFi and improved access toilets, the modernised trains will enter service on Monday 3 July.

The first three class 166 diesel trains will begin operating on the Severn Beach Line, with a further two refreshed trains due to operate from Bristol Parkway from October this year.


The upgrade mark the start of GWR’s plans to cascade diesel trains from the Thames Valley, and is an important milestone in increasing capacity for Bristol suburban services by 52%.  GWR Managing Director Mark Hopwood said:

“We know that our suburban Bristol services are some of our most in demand, and I am delighted to be able to see the first of a series of improvements we promised coming into place.

“This first train from London and the Thames Valley will offer a significant change in passenger experience, and with the introduction of new Intercity Express Trains just months away it also marks the beginning of the greatest fleet upgrade in in a generation for the people of Bristol, and beyond.” 

Building on these suburban service improvements Bristol will also see the first brand new Intercity Express Train (IET) enter service later this year, replacing 40 year-old High Speed Trains. The IETs will have over a fifth more seats per train, delivering further improvements in capacity; as being able to offer more frequent services, and reduced journey times with the completion of electrification of the Great Western mainline.

West of England Mayor Tim Bowles waved off the 0916 service to Severn Beach, and said:

“This is good news for rail users. The extra capacity brought about by this fleet upgrade is vital to our local rail services.  We will continue to work closely with transport providers and secure further improvements, planning ahead to ensure that we have transport fit for the future.”

 Network Rail’s Western route Managing Director Mark Langman said:

“It is fantastic to see our huge investment in the South West is already delivering real benefits for passengers with more to come, as we will be investing a further £250m in the region over the next 18 months as part of our Railway Upgrade Plan.

“To increase capacity by 35% on the Severn Beach line represents real progress and offers a significant change in passenger experience for the people of Bristol.”

Notes to editors

Great Western Railway (GWR) provides high speed, commuter, regional and branch line train services. We help over 100 million passengers reach their destinations every year - across South Wales, the West Country, the Cotswolds, and large parts of Southern England.

We’re currently seeing the biggest investment in the network since Brunel so we can offer more trains, more seats, and shorter, more frequent journeys and continue the network’s heritage of helping connect more businesses to new and prosperous markets. Through a series of initiatives we aim to be a good neighbour to the communities we serve and are committed to making a positive social impact in those regions. Learn how we're Building a Greater West at GWR is a FirstGroup company.