New trains promised as Newbury to go electric

Thursday 18th January 2018

Upgrade work will take place throughout 2018

2019 promises to be a landmark year for train travel in Newbury, as Great Western Railway (GWR) delivers new trains, more seats and more frequent services.

With the electrification of the route between Reading and Newbury, GWR will be able to run new Electrostar trains direct between Newbury and station stops to the capital, as well extend the operation of new, bi-mode Intercity Express Trains (IET) beyond Newbury to Bedwyn, and direct to Wiltshire, Devon and Cornwall.

With each IET offering up to 24% more seats than the High Speed Train it replaces, this will mean over 4,500* extra seats every day between Newbury and London Paddington from January 2019, as part of wider timetable improvements, and building on the 4,800 extra seats in London and the Thames Valley delivered at the beginning of the year.

To achieve this, Network Rail need to undertake upgrade works between Reading and Newbury and will have to close the railway line over the course of the year.

GWR Managing Director Mark Hopwood said:

“With the completion of electrification work we will be able to run brand new electric, and bi-mode Intercity Express Trains, to Newbury – supporting the local economy with more train seats, more comfortable and more frequent, journeys.

“In order to achieve this however, Network Rail will need to undertake a significant programme of upgrade works.

“We have worked hard to make sure we have produced a train and bus service that supports the local economy while also allowing Network Rail the vital access it needs to the railway to electrify the route.”

The first phase of works is scheduled to take place over the following four-day periods, with an number of additional line blocks required to complete the work.

  • Monday 12 March until Thursday 15 March
  • Monday 23 April until Thursday 26 April

Train services will still operate from Theale to Reading. On the days above buses will replace trains from stations between Pewsey and Theale. Season ticket holders can also change their tickets to travel from Didcot Parkway or Whitchurch if they prefer.

Long distance services from London Paddington to Devon and Cornwall will continue to operate but will be diverted, adding up to 50 minutes to journey times. Some train departure times will also be changed, and passengers are advised to check beforehand.

Network Rail Route Managing Director Mark Langman said:

“This will boost local communities and provide a better service for passengers travelling in Berkshire, across the Thames Valley and west London.

“We are working very hard with GWR to minimise disruption to passengers while we deliver electrification to Newbury. Owing to the scale of the work we will be doing this over periods of several days, with the upgrade starting in March.”

“I thank the communities in Newbury and across Berkshire for their patience in advance of the upgrade starting.”

As well as commissioning the overhead electric lines, Network Rail will complete track renewal and ballast work, taking advantage of the line closure to conduct maintenance works.

For further travel advice and information on the work please visit

On 2 January this year GWR provided over 4,800 extra trains seats into London Paddington at the busiest times of the morning.

New, and more modern trains meant the company delivered 10% more train seats at the busiest time of the morning into and out of London Paddington, compared to January 2017.

With Network Rail’s work to electrify the route between Reading and Newbury, these new electric trains will also subsequently replace older diesel stock operating between Newbury and London Paddington; while new Class 802 Hitachi Intercity Express Trains will operate direct services to Bedwyn and Frome.

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.

*Seat increased based on a like-for-like replacement of High Speed Trains for new Intercity Express Trains. Final 2019 timetables subject to agreement by Network Rail.