GWR posts another modern speed record ahead of December timetable change

Tuesday 08th October 2019

Train operator Great Western Railway has recorded its second modern speed record within a fortnight as it celebrates the release of its new timetable, which comes into effect on 15 December.

GWR’s bullet-style Intercity Express Train, which has been in service since October 2017 and now operates on all of GWR’s long-distance routes, took just 44 minutes 22 seconds to travel 77 miles from Swindon to London Paddington.

GWR Driver Bryan Duncan
GWR Driver Bryan Duncan takes the train through Swindon on its way to London. Photo by Mark Watkins/Gloucestershire Live.

It follows another modern speed record being posted on September 24, when an IET took just 72 minutes to travel between Bristol Temple Meads and London Paddington.

The special train runs mark the new December timetable being made public for the first time. The biggest timetable change on the network since 1976 will offer faster journey times and more frequent services to key locations.

Today’s special run left Cheltenham Spa at 1020, Gloucester at 1036 and Swindon at 1121 – arriving into London Paddington at 1205.

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

“Once again we have seen the capacity of these Intercity Express Trains.

“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.”

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.

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.

Daily services from Swindon to London will increase from 73 to 85, providing an average of 5,000 additional seats per day. Typical journey times will be cut by 5-10 minutes.

Francis McGarry, Investment Director Wales and Western, Network Rail, said:

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

The new December timetable is so significant, especially for those who travel regularly and are used to catching a particular service every day, that GWR has launched an awareness campaign to highlight the changes ahead, and make sure customers are prepared. It is encouraging customers to find out more 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.

According to the RPS, the quickest time recorded between Swindon and London Paddington pre-2008 was 43 minutes 48 seconds, set on 5 March 1980 by a High Speed Train.

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.