New 10 carriage Intercity Express Train visits Cornwall for the first time

Thursday 22nd June 2017

Passengers to benefit from new trains, providing more seats, more services and reduced journey times

Great Western Railway’s first Intercity Express Train has made its maiden voyage to Cornwall this morning, as part of a very special test journey from London Paddington to Penzance.

Watch a video of the new Intercity Express train and updated Night Riviera service here.

Part of an expo event with Cornwall Council to showcase improved rail services for the South West, the Intercity Express Train (IET) (800 003 and 800 004) left London Paddington at 0533 and arrived at Penzance Station at 1101.

Transport minister Paul Maynard said:

“We are upgrading our railways to deliver the biggest modernisation programme for over a century and the improvements that passengers have asked for.

“These new trains will offer greater capacity, reduced journey times and more reliable services from London to Penzance.”

Councillor Geoff Brown, Cornwall Council Cabinet Member for Transport, welcomed the investment from GWR and said:

“The new fleet forms part of a £400m package of rail investment that we are working with GWR and Network Rail to deliver, which will transform rail services on our mainline network and, in doing so, provide a key element of the Council’s proposals for a One Public Transport System in Cornwall.”

From 2017 this new fleet of Intercity Express Trains will connect London Paddington to Bristol and South Wales and from 2018 they will connect London Paddington to Exeter, Plymouth, Penzance and many more communities.

GWR Commercial Development Director Matthew Golton said:

"We know how important the railway is to the economies and communities of the South West, and today's event marks another milestone in delivering the improvements we know our passengers wish to see.

“These trains will help us deliver faster, more frequent services into the South West, providing up to a fifth more seats per train.”

The new rolling stock replaces 40-year-old trains currently serving this key intercity route This will mean additional seats into and out of the West of England, and will help speed up typical journey times from London by 5 minutes (to Exeter), 6 minutes (Plymouth) and 14 minutes (Penzance).

Sandra Rothwell, Chief Executive of the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Local Enterprise Partnership, said:

“Good connectivity is vital to business and the growth of our economy which is why we have made rail investment one of our top priorities. These fantastic new GWR trains, coupled with ongoing investment from the LEP and its partners in signalling, station upgrades and WiFi, will transform main line rail services in Cornwall with increased frequency, more comfort and faster journey times.”

The 93 train fleet is fitted with bi-mode technology, allowing trains to use both diesel and electric power, and passengers to enjoy the benefits of new trains as soon as possible. Prior to entering service next Summer, the train will now be made ready to begin testing on the network.

The new fleet harnesses Hitachi’s pioneering Japanese bullet train technology, known for its quality and reliability. Passengers can expect more seats, better on-board facilities and shorter journey times.

Mark Langman, Route Managing Director of Network Rail, said:

“Improving the signalling, upgrading stations and preparing the railway for the Intercity Express Trains marks a real milestone in the modernisation of the railway in the South West, as we continue to deliver our Railway Upgrade Plan.

“Passengers, communities and the local economy will feel real benefits with extra services, more seats, greater comfort and a more reliable railway in Devon and Cornwall.”

Ahead of the fleet of trains arriving in the South West, Network Rail has invested £47million to prepare the railway for the new Intercity Express Trains.

The modernisation includes a £25million signalling upgrade as part of the Cornwall Capacity Enabling Scheme, which has been part funded by Cornwall Council to the tune of £15m. This scheme includes 21 additional signals added to the line and seven level crossing upgrades. 

The extra signalling will allow for more trains to be on the track, and will be controlled locally from the existing signal boxes at Plymouth, Lostwithiel and Roskear.

A further £12m has been invested for de-vegetation in Devon and Cornwall and another £10m for gauge clearance as well as Totnes and Devonport platform extensions.

Passengers will also benefit from new on-board technology, including real-time journey updates and seat reservation screens.

The Intercity Express Train is designed to withstand the region’s variable weather conditions, including routes along the Dawlish coast.

As well as the first visit from an IET, those in attendance will also be able to look at a new and improved Night Riviera sleeper berth. The Night Riviera service is being modernised and will include a new seated carriage, a cocktail bar and refreshed berths with hotel style keyless door entry, USB charging ports and a host of other improvements. See a video of the new sleeper here.

From this autumn, the first wave of Intercity Express Trains will run on the historic Great Western main line, connecting London to key UK cities including Reading, Bath, Bristol and Cardiff. Production of these trains is already underway at Newton Aycliffe, County Durham.

From next Summer a second wave of new trains will begin running as far south as Penzance along coastal routes in Devon and Cornwall. The first of these trains arrived in the UK on Saturday 17 June. This £500 million fleet is financed by Eversholt Rail and will be leased to Great Western Railway.

The entire fleet of 93 trains (58 five-car, 35 nine-car) will be in passenger service by the end of 2019.

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.com. GWR is a FirstGroup company.