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

Friday 19th July 2019

South Wales 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.  

In the biggest timetable change on the network since 1976, GWR’s Intercity Express Trains (IETs) will take advantage of infrastructure improvements to run to a fully electric timetable between Cardiff and London for the first time. 

This unlocks the full potential of the IETs modern technology and improved acceleration, allowing typical journey times on the company’s popular twice-hourly Cardiff-London service to be shortened by 14 minutes to just 1 hour 53 minutes. 

A new, super-fast third hourly service will run at the busiest times of day, running non-stop between Bristol Parkway and Paddington and allowing customers to travel from capital to capital in 1 hour 42 minutes – 17 minutes faster than is possible today.

Emeritus Professor of Transport (Economics and Policy), University of South Wales, Stuart Cole CBE said: 

“This is great news for the economy of South Wales, for the environment, and for cross border rail customers. More seats, more trains and faster journeys will help with inward investment and with the switch from cars to public transport. These new trains will be a great support for visitors and commuters alike.  

“The creation of this advanced train service has been a challenge for GWR, Network Rail and Hitachi (the train manufacturers). There is more to come as work is now completed on electrification to Newport and Cardiff so that by Christmas we will see the full benefit of the investment in both track and train.”

The additional services, coupled with the additional seats provided by the IETs, will give customers travelling between South Wales and London 15,000 extra seats every weekday.

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.”

Customers travelling between Cardiff and Portsmouth, a popular route for commuters travelling to and from Bristol, will continue to see more modern, five-carriage Turbo trains replacing the current three-carriage Class 150 units. 

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

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.