Changing from First Great Western to GWR – Our vision

Our aim is to reinstate the ideals of our founder, Isambard Kingdom Brunel. And deliver a rail service for the 21st Century to Build a Greater West.

Changing from FGW to GWR

In September 2015, FirstGroup started the process of ‘un-branding’ the business by changing the company name from First Great Western to Great Western Railway. This won’t happen overnight, as going back to the name given to us by our illustrious founder, Isambard Kingdom Brunel, is a huge step that will take time to fully introduce. 

It’s more than a rebadging exercise. It’s a complete shift in our ethos as a train operator. It means we no longer behave as a franchisee, but as a custodian – responsible for reinvigorating the west by returning the railway to its former glory.

FirstGroup began operating the West’s railways in April 2006. The region brings together the former First Great Western, First Great Western Link and Wessex Trains businesses.

We know your railway truly belongs to the region it serves and is more important than any holding company. We’re proud to have the chance to bring back Brunel’s original ideals and take them forward into the 21st Century. 

GWR reaches from London in the east to Brighton and Gatwick in the south, Carmarthen, Pembroke Dock and Penzance in the west and Banbury, Hereford and Worcester in the north.

It's one of the UK's largest and most complex rail networks, carrying 1.5 million passengers every week on 9,000 services, and calling at 276 stations. GWR is the only UK rail company to operate High Speed Inter-city, commuter, regional and sleeper services.

Our High Speed Inter-city services link South Wales, the Cotswolds and the South West with London.

We provide fast and frequent commuter services for the ‘M4 corridor’, the Thames Valley and Newbury and Oxford routes. We operate in the South West, providing local commuter and leisure trains and the key longer distance routes from Cardiff to Portsmouth.

Our sleeper service links the South West to London. We operate direct to Gatwick Airport and, as part of the Heathrow Connect operation, to the heart of Heathrow Airport.

In short, we keep the west moving. For as long as FirstGroup is the custodians of GWR, we will work tirelessly to make sure the west runs faster, smoother and more efficiently. And we’ll keeping striving to Build a Greater West.

Putting you first

We’re dedicated to making your journeys as smooth and pleasurable as possible. From greeting you at the station, to friendly on-board teams, we make sure every smile given, every bag carried, every refreshment served goes towards making your journeys safe, comfortable and enjoyable.

Introduction of new Super Express Trains

A 21st Century railway means faster, more efficient electric trains. Our new Super Express Trains are to be rolled out as part of our network’s biggest fleet update in a generation. Please read our commitment to staff about this exciting upgrade programme.


The current custodian of the Great Western Railway is FirstGroup plc (First), one of the country's most experienced train operators. First is extremely proud to ‘un-brand’ themselves from the livery and reinstate the original name and ideals to the region’s railway.

Building a Greater West

Why we're spending £7.5 billion to build you a Great Western Railway.

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