Biggest timetable change since the 70s now only 150 days away - Bristol

Friday 19th July 2019

Bristol train services will be transformed from December, as Great Western Railway speeds up its timetable, offering faster journey times and more frequent services to key locations.  

Additional train services will help reduce train times into London by as much as 17 minutes, and reduce journey times from Bristol Parkway to just 67 minutes when GWR introduces its first wholesale timetable change since the 1970s, this December. 

The new timetable will provide 20,000 additional seats a day through Bristol Temple Meads, and 15,000 through Bristol Parkway.

West of England Mayor, Tim Bowles said: 

“This is great news for the West of England. More seats, more trains and faster journeys will help people switch from cars to public transport, reducing congestion and improving the air we breathe. The new timetable will support the new rail services we have planned through MetroWest and it’s great to see even more investment in both track and train.”

The changes are enabled by GWR’s Intercity Express Trains (IETs), will take advantage of infrastructure improvements to run to a fully electric timetable for the first time. 

This unlocks the full benefits of the train’s modern design and improved acceleration to provide faster more frequent services. Customers will see journey times into London, non-stop from Bristol Parkway, cut to just 1 hour 7 minutes. The fastest journey times from Bristol Temple Meads will be cut to 1 hour 19 minutes, 17 minutes faster than is possible today. 

GWR Managing Director Mark Hopwood said:

“While December may seem a long time away for many, we have been working hard behind the scenes to prepare to implement the biggest timetable change on this network since 1976, enabling us to take advantage of the full benefits that new Intercity Express Trains are bringing.

“In providing more frequent and quicker journeys our new timetable will for the vast majority of users quite literally mean ‘all change please’ and we are looking forward to publishing further details soon.”

GWR will also be providing an extra train service an hour at peak times at its two key stations in the city from December, extending into the off-peak during 2020.

There are also more improvements for customers travelling into the city between Cardiff and Portsmouth, a popular route for commuters travelling to and from Bristol, as GWR continues to roll out more modern, five-carriage Turbo trains to replace the current three-carriage Class 150 units. 

Those travelling on GWR services between Cardiff and Taunton/Exeter via Bristol can also expect to see Class 43 Castle trains, modernised High Speed Trains with four carriages and automatic closing doors, running at the busiest times of day on the route. These trains will help to increase seats numbers on the line by over 1,800 every weekday.

The Severn Beach line, which was the first to see newer, longer Turbo trains to improve capacity in 2017, sees a significant improvement to Sunday services with trains extending through to Severn Beach.  

Mike Gallop, interim route managing director for Network Rail, said: 

“The timetable change this December will be the biggest since 1976 and will mean faster journeys and more frequent services for passengers. 

“It follows unprecedented investment in railway infrastructure including electrification, improved signalling, upgraded stations and much more which together with the introduction of new trains will transform rail travel.”

The planned improvements are so significant, particularly for those who travel regularly and used to catching a particular service every day, that GWR is launching an awareness campaign to highlight the changes ahead, and make sure customers are prepared.

The timetable is expected to come into effect on 15 December, and the plans are subject to final industry approval including from Network Rail. It is expected to be published on 15 September. 

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.