Gloucester train services will be transformed from December, as Great Western Railway speeds up its timetable and create 5,000 additional seats every day in the biggest change to the timetable since the 1970s.
The improvements are driven by GWR’s Intercity Express Trains (IETs) and the investment to infrastructure across the region, including Network Rail’s electrification of the mainline between South Wales and London.
The changes will mean typical journeys between Cheltenham Spa to London will be shortened by 10 minutes to 2 hours. The fastest journeys will come in at 1 hour 57 minutes.
MP for Cheltenham Alex Chalk said:
“This is great news for local and regional economic development and will support Cheltenham’s future as the UK's premier cyber security hub.
“Sub-two hour services will boost investment and jobs for our young people. It is great to see that by Christmas we will experience the full benefit of the Government’s investment in both track and train.”
Connectivity will improve too, with the number of through trains from London to Cheltenham Spa doubling at off-peak times. This matches the peak-time frequency improvements delivered by GWR earlier this year, and creates an hourly service throughout the day.
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.”
The first train to Cheltenham from London will also leave earlier at 0533 compared to 0733 today, and the last departure will be at 2133, rather than 1948.
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.