New timetable made public for the first time - Bristol

Wednesday 02nd October 2019

The new December railway timetable for Bristol has been made public for the first time, offering faster journey times, more seats, and more frequent services to key locations.

Regular users are being asked to check their new journey times ahead of 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 Bristol and London for the first time. 

Additional train services will help reduce the fastest train times between London and Bristol Temple Meads by as much as 17 minutes and reduce the fastest journey times between London and Bristol Parkway to just 68 minutes when GWR introduces its first wholesale timetable change since the 1970s from Sunday 15 December. The journey time improvements will also benefit customers travelling from Taunton, Weston-super-Mare and the Avon Valley.

The planned improvements are so significant, especially for those who travel regularly and 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 and register for updates at www.gwr.com. 

From December three extra trains will operate between Bristol Temple Meads and London Paddington in the morning and evening peaks, increasing the frequency of service from two an hour to three. The extra trains will call at fewer stations, and will use the full accelerating power of GWRs new trains. 

Two additional services in the morning and evening peaks will also operate from South Wales to Bristol Parkway and then direct into London Paddington. From May 2020 GWR plans to extend these extra peak time trains to operate throughout the day.  

West of England Mayor, Tim Bowles said

“This is great news for the West of England and 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 across the region 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), which 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 8 minutes. The fastest journey times between London Paddington and Bristol Temple Meads will be cut to 1 hour 19 minutes, 17 minutes faster than is possible today. 

GWR Managing Director Mark Hopwood said:

“It’s just 12 weeks until Sunday December 15, and 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 pleased the new timetable has been published.”

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 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, 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 timetable will come into effect from 15 December. 

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. 

With plans to further increase service frequency in May 2020 this will provide 20,000 additional seats a day through Bristol Temple Meads, and 15,000 through Bristol Parkway.