GWR celebrates Wales to London speed record ahead of December timetable change

Wednesday 23rd October 2019

Cardiff to London in just over an hour-and-a-half?

GWR achieves fastest ever Wales to London train journey ahead of December timetable change

A new Cardiff to London Paddington speed record has been set by train operator Great Western Railway as it prepares for the introduction of a new timetable and quicker journeys.

GWR’s bullet-style Intercity Express Train (IET) took just 1 hour 33 minutes 44 seconds to travel a little over the 145 miles from Cardiff to London Paddington, eclipsing the previous record of 1 hour 37 minutes 37 seconds.

That was set by a High Speed Train on 2 August 1988 and came before the introduction of safer driving practices and speed restrictions in 2008.

Today’s speed record is the third to be posted in the past month as GWR celebrates the earlier publication of its 15 December timetable. The biggest timetable change on the network since 1976 will offer faster journey times and more frequent services to key locations, and will save up to 17 minutes on journeys between Cardiff and London Paddington.

Today’s special run left Swansea at 1248 and Cardiff at 1346 – arriving into London Paddington at 1520.

GWR Managing Director Mark Hopwood was accompanied on board the service by special guests and media.

He said:

“This has been a memorable journey and shows just what our Intercity Express Trains are capable of.

“We have been working hard behind the scenes to prepare to implement the biggest timetable change on this network since the 1970s, 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 pleased the new timetable has now been published.”

View a short video clip of the record-breaking train run here

Changes will mean typical journey times on the company’s popular twice-hourly Cardiff-London service will 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 as quickly as 1 hour 42 minutes, 17 minutes faster than today.

These will run in the morning and evening peaks from December.

The fastest journey from Paddington to Swansea will now be 2 hours 38 minutes, 18 minutes quicker than today, with typical journey times shortened by 14 minutes to 2 hours 46 minutes.

Alun Cairns MP, Secretary of State for Wales, said:

“The new super-fast Swansea to London trains calling at Cardiff and timetable change will make our capital city and the surrounding areas a highly-attractive tourist and commuter destination.

“Making these important changes will not only improve cross-border connectivity and deliver a boost to the economy of south Wales but will also provide rail passengers with the high-quality service they deserve.”

Network Rail Route Director Wales and Borders Bill Kelly said:

“This is excellent news for Wales. We’re now able to fully realise the significant benefits from our investment in the rail infrastructure. Setting another new modern speed record shows what is possible, and we will continue to work with GWR to deliver timetable and journey time improvements in December.”

GWR posted a modern speed record on September 24 when an IET took just 72 minutes to travel between Bristol Temple Meads and London Paddington.

And on October 8 an IET took just 44 minutes to travel from Swindon to London Paddington.

Customers are encouraged to find out more about the December timetable change at

Notes to editors

The Rail Performance Society (RPS) records fastest times in two categories – pre-2008 and post-2008. This reflects the introduction of safer driving practices and speed restrictions from 2008.

Until today, no speed record had been measured between the two stations post-2008.

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.