First Group aims to put the Great back into the GWR
First Great Western is re-launching itself as the Great Western Railway (GWR) and invoking the spirit of Isambard Kingdom Brunel.
Rebranded trains, new uniforms and a host of other improvements are part of an £7.5bn investment package agreed between First Group and the DfT. A new timetable will be introduced in December 2018 for the new electric services between Paddington, Bristol and South Wales, and there will more trains to Devon and Cornwall. The improvements will also enhance capacity (three million additional seats per year), and more staff to be taken on to assist passengers.
First Group heralded the initiative as, “the biggest investment in the railways since Brunel.”
Services on the Thames Valley commuter route will also be improved: 37 Class 387 and 21 Class 365 emus currently used on other services will be cascaded onto the line from spring 2016 onwards. The Class 165 and Class 166 dmus they displace will be transferred to Bristol and Exeter area to replace older diesel units.
In other rail TOC news, National Express-owned c2c has announced that all stations on its network will be fully staffed – from the first to the last trains of the day, and for every day of the week. c2c – which runs the commuter services between Fenchurch Street and Southend –will be the first franchised rail operator to do this.