More trains on Great Western

I have received the following letter from the Transport Secretary about improvements now planned for Great Western train services, summarising the arrangements for the new train franchise following consultation and negotiation;

23rd March 2015

we are grateful to all those who took part. A summary of the responses

received, and how they have been incorporated into the new Franchise, is

now available on the Department’s website at Gov.UK.

The franchise overall will see an increase in capacity of around 25 percent,

or 3 million seats per year as well as significant increases in service

frequency and journey time savings. This will include a 2 trains per hour

service to the South West of England, an earlier arrival into Plymouth, and

double the number of trains to Cornwall. My Department will also work with

FGW to improve the performance and quality of the rolling stock serving

the south west of England, particularly for intercity services, during this

Direct Award; to complement the introduction of the IEP trains.

Other benefits secured by the Direct Award include investment of £30m to

create 2,000 more car park spaces, additional customer information

systems, CCTV, ticket gatelines, and fund of £2.5m for station access

improvements a £3.5m station development match fund, as well as

extension of Station Travel Plans at a further 20 main interchange stations.

The operator will also support the government’s commitment to get more

people into work by providing an annual fund and training opportunities for

young and unemployed people, as well as providing 85 modern

apprenticeships by the franchise end.

New passenger satisfaction, punctuality and cleanliness targets will be

introduced on the franchise. We expect FGW to continue to provide

improving standards for its 99 million annual passengers including the

provision of free Wi-Fi on all train fleets. In addition the company will

deepen its engagement with communities and stakeholders so that all the

users of the franchise can continue to have a real influence over how

services can be improved. This includes a £2.2m Customer and

Communities Improvement Fund to help areas of real social need.

I thought it would be useful to highlight some specific benefits from this

award that may affect you and your constituents more directly. The busy

commuting routes into London will see a significant increase in capacity

and better journey times from Thames Valley stations into London

Paddington with seats for over 29,500 passengers arriving into Paddington

across the morning peak in December 2018, operated by a fleet of modern

Class 387 electric trains, supplemented by a fleet of Class 365 trains. The

number of services along the North Downs route from Reading will increase

from 2 trains per hour to 3, with through trains to Gatwick increased to 2

per hour, providing much needed additional capacity and improved

frequency on the line. There will also be additional trains from Oxford to

London and fast trains will operate to and from Didcot during the morning

and evening peak hours from December 2018. From December 2017 there

will be electrified services operating on the Windsor branch and Henley

branch. Improvements on routes in the region will see the line speed

increase to 110mph from December 2018, when 12 car trains will provide

further capacity and faster journeys to Oxford, Newbury, Swindon and


In addition to these service and rolling stock enhancements, a number of

stations in the Thames Valley region will benefit from improvements. A new

multi-story car park is planned at Didcot for delivery in 2016/17 and FGW

are working with partners on further improvements to the station. Goring &

Streatley will also benefit from improvements to the car park from 2016 and

CCTV will be installed at Windsor and Eton station. Stations on the Marlow

line will see a package of improvements that FGW plan to deliver in

partnership with Buckinghamshire and Thames Valley Local Enterprise

Partnership and will also see new Ticket Vending Machines installed at

Cookham and Marlow stations. The new franchise will also provide

improved passenger information and retail/ ticketing systems. I’m very

pleased too that FGW will work in partnership with Network Rail and

Reading Borough Council to see the aim of a new station at Reading Green

Park realised by December 2018. FGW has committed to working closely

with TfL and the new Crossrail train operator to ensure seamless transfer

of stations and introduction of the new train services.

Reaching this agreement with FGW marks a new chapter for the Great

Western railway and a step change in capacity, frequency, and the quality

of service.


  1. Cliff. Wokingham.
    March 24, 2015

    Good news indeed however, it is sad that the new trains will not be built in this country.

  2. alan jutson
    March 25, 2015

    It all sounds like a vast improvement, let us hope that the enlarged car park spaces will also prove to be available at a sensible cost.

    Let us also hope that being able to purchase the lowest cost ticket will be rather less complicated, than in years past.

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