Saturday, 20 January 2018

Stagecoach Making Waves Along The Coast

Stagecoach customers along the East Sussex coast can now enjoy an even more comfortable bus ride as the company launch a brand new fleet of buses.
Wave 99 buses
£2.5 million worth of ultramodern Enviro 400 double deck buses are now out on the roads. The new buses operate on the popular coastal route 99, branded the ‘Wave’, between Hastings and Eastbourne. The 12 new state-of-the-art vehicles are designed to accommodate passengers in comfort and convenience. As well as being more environmentally friendly, the buses feature free WiFi and USB charging points for customers to keep connected and fully charged whilst on the move.

The company’s managing director, Philip Norwell, said: “This is exciting news for our customers and for people thinking of choosing to use the bus. The route maintains important links between coastal towns and with these new buses we hope to tempt even more people to try the service.”

Stagecoach says that the 99 route carried more than 1.3 million passengers in 2017, saving vast numbers of car journeys.

Mr Norwell added “These buses aren’t just about providing comfortable seats. People want to use their travel time to catch-up and stay connected. Our free WiFi and USB charging will allow them to do this, contributing to our customers’ overall journey experience whilst reducing our impact on the environment.”

The British built Alexander Dennis buses are ‘Euro 6’ compliant, meaning that the engines meet the latest European emissions standards which are recognised as among the most stringent in the developed world. The new buses, along with all other Stagecoach buses in the south east, run on a greener fuel blend which contains at least 20% biofuel derived from a range of waste products.

For comfort the buses come with high-back faux-leather seats and on the outside the buses sport a new and refreshed ‘Wave’ livery featuring a montage inspired by the seaside route.

The new buses coincide with the company’s investment in digital technology which is transforming the journey experience for its customers. Contactless payment went live on all Stagecoach services in Kent and East Sussex last year, pioneering the use of this technology on buses outside of London. Stagecoach also launched a mobile App offering customers the facility to instantly buy and download day and week tickets to their smartphone. The Stagecoach Bus App is available free from the App Store (iPhone) and Google Play (Android). The App offers a simple journey planning tool and users can access live running times to check the status of their journey with live tracking information before catching the bus.
Wave 99 bus launch
To promote the introduction of the new vehicles, the company held events in Eastbourne and Hastings town centre last week, giving the public a chance to see the new buses first hand. Local entertainer ‘Uncle Bumble’ did some balloon modelling and Stagecoach staff handed out over 2,000 free ‘Wave’ promotional bags. The bags were packed with goodies including a ‘Wave’ branded USB cable that can be used with the USB charging points on the new buses. A private launch event was held at the De La Warr Pavilion in Bexhill for local partners and investors, attendees included the MP for Bexhill, Huw Merriman and local celebrity Sandra Martin, best known for her role on the Gogglebox television show.

On Mondays to Saturdays Wave route 99 buses run every 20 minutes serving Silverhill, Hastings town centre, St Leonards, Bexhill and Eastbourne. On Sundays the route operates hourly. More information is available here.

Friday, 19 January 2018

New Caledonian Sleeper Trains Delayed Until October

A new £100 million fleet of Caledonian Sleeper carriages with en suite showers and double beds will be introduced six months late, operator Serco announced today.

The news came as the first of the 75 coaches arrived in Glasgow from Spain.
Double room accessible to wheelchair users with lower basin.

Double room accessible to wheelchair users with lower basin.

Passengers were due to start using the new trains in April, but Serco said there had been production delays.
The firm also revealed the ensuite double rooms will cost from £200 per passenger, with single ensuite "Club" rooms from £125 per person.
"Classic" rooms, with no ensuite, will be priced from £85 per person, and seats from £45.
Passengers travelling alone will no longer be permitted to share with a stranger, with the change being implemented on the current trains from 26 February.
"Club Room" with ensuite.

"Club Room" with ensuite.

The new carriages are being built by CAF in northern Spain, which also produced Edinburgh's trams.
The carriages will replace ones that have been used on the overnight routes between Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen, Fort William and Inverness which are up to 40 years old.
The first new trains will operate on the Edinburgh and Glasgow routes.
Tickets go on sale next month.
"Classic" single room - strangers will no longer share.

"Classic" single room - strangers will no longer share.

New features include a hotel-style door card entry system, charging points and wi-fi.
The first five carriages to have arrived at the Polmadie rail works on the southside of Glasgow will be used for testing and have not been fitted out internally.
They travelled via the Channel Tunnel from a test track in the Czech Republic.
Club car for food and drink, served by a full kitchen, replacing the current ones which just have microwaves.

Club car for food and drink, served by a full kitchen, replacing the current ones which just have microwaves.

A Caledonian Sleeper spokesman said: "There has been slippage in the manufacturer's programme.
“We now anticipate we will begin a phased introduction of the new Caledonian Sleeper trains in October 2018.
"With trains currently in testing, we have discovered further improvements could be made to the trains to enhance the guest experience.
"This is often the case with entirely new designs.
"We are disappointed by the delay but we are determined to ensure the best possible service for our guests.
"These trains will be in service long beyond the lifetime of the franchise, and by taking a little extra time now we can ensure they will remain among the best in class for decades to come.”
"Comfort Seats" have charging points, reading light and locker for valuables.

"Comfort Seats" have charging points, reading light and locker for valuables.

Serco Caledonian Sleeper chairman Peter Strachan said: “We believe the new Caledonian Sleeper trains will truly set a new standard in overnight travel.
“The Sleeper is known throughout the UK as a great way to travel and it is our intention to improve on every aspect of that journey, while offering great value of money for our guests."
Transport minister Humza Yousaf said: “The Caledonian Sleeper is an iconic rail service, recognised in Scotland and across the world.
"The introduction of new rolling stock, with features new to UK railways, can only enhance its reputation.
"The arrival of the first trains to Scotland for testing is a major milestone and one that brings us closer to their introduction from October of this year.”
A Transport Scotland spokeswoman said: “These new trains, the first UK Sleeper build for 35 years, will be a unique asset to Scotland for the long term and have very real potential to play a pivotal role in continuing and increasing inbound tourism for decades to come.
“The vehicles are a complicated build with tightly specified requirements for passenger comfort, safety and amenity; given their intended use, they need to be tested rigorously.
"In doing so we can ensure the benefits of a solid introduction and passenger confidence in the new trains.”


First Group's 'Barbie' and subsequent corporate liveries have been around for a while, but in the earlier days, companies taken over, retained or produced their own identities. The latest album on the flickr site illustrates the time before 'Barbie' appeared on the scene. This can now be viewed by clicking  here

Thursday, 18 January 2018

Enviro200's for Compass

Compass Travel, which operates across Surrey, East Sussex, West Sussex and Brighton and Hove, has added a further three Enviro200s to its fleet.
The latest models are 8.9m, 29-seat buses powered by Cummins ISBe 4.5 litre engines and Allison transmissions. They join 12 Alexander Dennis Enviro200s delivered in the past year to Compass Travel, where almost half of the 70-strong fleet now comprises ADL single decks.
Commenting on his latest acquisitions Malcolm Gallichan, Engineering Director at Compass, said: “The manoeuvrability, fuel economy and reliability of the Enviro200, coupled with its style and passenger appeal, makes it a firm favourite and I’m not surprised it is a consistent best seller.
“ADL buses form the backbone of our fleet operations in Guildford, Redhill, Reigate, Chichester, Arundel, Bognor Regis, Lewes, Hayward Heath, Eastbourne and Brighton. Many of these are very demanding routes covering both high density and rural locations and the Enviro200, along with other ADL single decks, provide the ideal solution.”   

Wednesday, 17 January 2018

Luton Airport Rail Link News

London Luton Airport has picked a VolkerFitzpatrick-Kier team to deliver the main civil engineering package for its planned new light railway system.
The 2.1km-long guided mass rapid transit passenger system will run between two purpose-built stations, heading out from Stirling Place, close to Luton Airport Parkway station, to the airport terminal.

The joint venture secured the project with a £119m bid to build viaducts, embankments, cut and cover works and station platforms.
Some of the works will be within the airside sections of the airport.
Austrian specialist Doppelmayr Cable Car will deliver rolling stock, operation and maintenance under a £55m contract.
The scheme forms part of an ambitious £1.5bn inward investment programme revealed by the council, which outlines a 20-year plan for major transformation of the town.
The transit system is due to open in 2021.

The link to be funded by the council, which owns the airport, would reduce the journey time to London to just 30 minutes.


The bus and coach presrvation scene is the latest subject illustrated on the site, with a first selection now in an album, which can be viewed by clicking  here

Tuesday, 16 January 2018

Fully Electric Citaro's Ordered

EvoBus GmbH have their first customer for the fully-electric Mercedes-Benz Citaro. Representatives of the Daimler subsidiary and Rhein‑Neckar‑Verkehr GmbH have signed a corresponding memorandum of understanding which will allow the first vehicles to be delivered at the end of 2018.  They will enter service in the Rhein-Neckar metropolitan region as part of customer trials.

This means that the first examples of the fully electric Mercedes-Benz city bus will remain close to home – The electric Citaro's are produced in Mannheim so they will be in service close to where they are manufactured. The two partners have agreed to closely exchange their findings during day‑to‑day regular service operations.
The fully‑electric vehicles receive drive energy from lithium‑ion batteries and the modular design of the battery pack means that customised solutions can be devised to match a wide range of applications and requirements in city traffic. As well as the possibility of charging from a power socket at the depot, Mercedes‑Benz can also optionally supply the Citaro with intermediate recharging solutions. The vehicle is powered by rear axle electric wheel hub motors.

One of the particular features of the Citaro with all‑electric drive is the accurate thermal management of the vehicle drive and climate control systems. This reduces energy consumption significantly thus increasing range without increasing the size and capacity of the battery.
The all‑electric Citaro is currently being put through comprehensive trials with prototypes having successfully run through initial winter testing at the Arctic circle as well as summer testing in the heat of Spain's Sierra Nevada. Endurance testing and detailed refinements will now follow, ensuring that the all-electrics will be able to offer maximum availability on a par with that of a conventionally powered city bus.

Map showing the Rhein-Neckar District which is close to Mannheim where
 the vehicles will be manufactured


Monday, 15 January 2018

Bus announcements ridiculed

Londoners hit out at 'mistimed' bus safety alerts

Bus passengers have criticised Transport for London (TfL) over a "mistimed" announcement designed to stop people falling over on board.
The warning, "Please hold on, the bus is about to move", is supposed to sound just before buses pull away from stops.
But a technical glitch means many warnings sound after the bus has started moving.
Some passengers have branded the idea "annoying and useless", but TfL said it would make journeys safer.
It said about 3,000 people were injured each year by slips, trips and falls on London buses.
TfL said many of these happened "because people have shopping in one hand and phones in the other".
But it accepted that the new warnings "have not quite got the timing right yet".
The alert is currently triggered by a computer that sends out the message after the average amount of time a bus would spend at a bus stop.
So for passengers on buses that spend less time at a stop, the alert does not sound until the bus is moving.

TfL said that if customers did not like the alert scheme, it can be withdrawn, but that the aim is to "make safety even better".
Many customers have taken to social media to vent their frustration at the mistimed messages.
Nathan Wade, from East Finchley, north London, posted a tongue-in-cheek video on Twitter to highlight the error.
The children's residential worker, 30, said: "I do have sympathy for people that have been injured on the bus.
"I have seen it before where older people have nearly fallen over because the bus has pulled away too quickly.
"However, I don't think telling passengers to 'Please hold on, the bus is about to move' is going to help with that, even if the timing issue could be resolved."


London Country Bus Services during the National Bus Company era, feature in the latest album on the flickr site. This can now be viewed by clicking  here

Sunday, 14 January 2018

Gospel Oak to Barking Line to Re-open

The London Overground Gospel Oak to Barking line is set to fully reopen on Monday 15 January, after extra closures meant the timeline to upgrade work was delayed by months.
The installation of new overhead electric lines by Network Rail has been completed meaning new longer electric trains will run from spring 2018.

When services resume, Network Rail said the existing two car diesel trains will be used until the new four car electric trains have been fully tested and driver training complete.
The upgrade was originally supposed to cost around £130m but that rose to £172m, after a number of issues cropped up. Some of the structures carrying the overhead lines were incorrectly designed and could not be installed at the planned locations. Further delays were caused by the late delivery of materials and structures.
Transport for London (TfL) had said that the electrification work would finish last summer, but that was then pushed back to January 2018.

The electric trains have increased capacity and feature walk-through carriages, air conditioning, live network information screens and better reliability.
Network Rail's route managing director for Anglia, Meliha Duymaz, said passengers on the line "are set to benefit from a transformational, once in a generation upgrade with a new fleet of longer, electric trains so that twice as many people can travel comfortably, once line testing is complete".
Passengers will get services running every 15 minutes throughout the day until late evening, and at least every 20 minutes after 10pm.
Jonathan Fox, TfL’s director of rail and sponsored services, said: I welcome the return of services to the Gospel Oak to Barking line and would like to thank customers for their patience while Network Rail completed this stage of the electrification works. A period of testing of the new electrified line will now take place ahead of introducing new, more reliable and longer electric trains in the spring.


A veritable variety of buses and coaches over several decades from the East Midlands area are now contained in an album, which can now be viewed by clicking   here

Saturday, 13 January 2018

Preston Tram News

A £25m deal has been reached between the bosses of Preston's ambitious Guild Line tram project and a contractor.

Preston Trampower Ltd says Eric Wright Civil Engineering is now on board to build the long-awaited three-and-a-half mile route, starting with a 1,250-metre-long pilot line in the Deepdale area of the city.

Trampower's Lewis Lesley and Lincoln Shields 

with Diane Bourne, managing director of

 Eric Wright Civil Engineering

A sod-cutting ceremony for the pilot line took place on Tuesday, January 9th 2018. Representatives from both organisations signed a memorandum of understanding.
Prof Lewis Lesley, technical director for Preston Trampower Ltd, said: “To have such a prestigious local contractor on board is another huge vote of confidence in this project.
“We’ve all seen how the Manchester Metrolink has been instrumental in the growth of that city and I have no doubt that a Preston tram system can provide a huge shot in the arm for the city’s economy.

“We’ve put years of hard work and detailed research into this project. By utilising existing rail infrastructure, we can deliver this tramway with the minimum of disruption to residents and motorists. While only a small section of track is being built initially, we’re confident the full Guild Line can soon become a reality.”
Trampower has previously received planning permission for the test track, which will be used for training purposes and demonstration rides, and plans to submit an application later this year to gain approval for the entire project.
Bosses said private investment "to deliver the infrastructure for the tram service, as well as additional funds for the leasing of trams" is already "lined up."
And the service could welcome its first passengers - if planning approval is granted - in 2019.
The pilot line will be a 1,250-metre-long stretch through Deepdale using disused but existing rail tracks. Work is expected to start in March.
Diane Bourne, managing director of Eric Wright Civil Engineering, added: “Signing this memorandum of understanding is an important milestone and reassures the people who live and work in Preston that the new tramway is coming.
“As a local contractor with a strong heritage across Preston, we’re very proud to be leading the project. We’re looking forward to starting on site and delivering a quality scheme that meets local need and that the community can be proud of.
“City centre tramway projects are proven to bring numerous benefits and we’re aiming to replicate this same success within Preston.”
The brains behind the tram project have long argued it could provide the answer to the city's congestion problems. The Guild Tram route will see 12 stops, including including Deepdale Shopping Park, Preston North End FC’s Deepdale stadium, and later the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan).
It would be the first time trams have operated in the city since the 1930s.
Lincoln Shields, director of Preston Trampower Ltd, added: “The Guild Line tram will be a fast, frequent and convenient way for people to reach the city centre without having to fight for a parking place.
"The chronic level of congestion in the city centre, and the health-threatening toxic traffic air pollution will be eased by pollution-free trams.”

Friday, 12 January 2018



 • Overall trading for the Group in the first half was consistent with plans outlined at start of the financial year
• Strong cash performance in addition to inflows from recent start of South Western Railway (‘SWR’)

Financial summary

 • Group revenue +8.1% including new SWR rail franchise from 20 August and favourable foreign exchange; excluding these, Group revenue was +0.9%
 • Adjusted operating profit flat, with solid trading performances and favourable foreign exchange offset by c.£6m impact of severe North American hurricanes, mainly on First Transit’s three contracts in Puerto Rico; in constant currency, adjusted operating profit (9.1)%
 • Adjusted EPS +35.7% reflecting lower interest costs tempered by significantly higher tax rate as expected; adjusted EPS flat in constant currency
 • Net cash inflow of £97.0m (H1 2016: outflow of £64.3m) in the period includes a cash flow improvement of £86.2m in addition to a £75.1m working capital inflow from the start of the SWR franchise
 • Net debt: EBITDA improved to 1.7 times at the half year, compared to 2.4 times a year ago
 • Statutory operating profit decline of £20.5m, statutory loss before tax of £1.9m and statutory EPS reduction to 0.2p principally reflect a gain on disposal of property in the prior period which did not recur

Divisional summary

 • First Student delivered +5.3% average price increases and 83% retention through ‘up or out’ bidding strategy, successfully managed school start up despite ongoing driver shortages, and completed an acquisition in the period
• First Transit growth and contract wins continued but margin affected by severe hurricane impact mainly on Puerto Rico operations, and higher driver shortage costs due to strength of US employment market
• Greyhound like-for-like revenue +1.2%, including +7.8% in Greyhound Express and other short haul growth while long haul declined; fuel and cost savings partially offset higher inflation and maintenance costs
• First Bus like-for-like passenger revenue +0.6% including +1.3% from commercial passengers; adjusted margin improved 50bps in period, driven by systematic programme of management actions
• First Rail like-for-like passenger revenue +3.2% and cost efficiencies contributed to an increased margin; SWR franchise commenced towards end of period
Looking ahead
 • Overall trading and cash performance in first half, excluding the short term impact of the severe hurricanes, affirms confidence that the Group will make further progress and deliver substantial cash generation for the full year.

Commenting, Chief Executive Tim O'Toole said: "The overall trading performance and significantly increased free cash generation of the Group in the first half was consistent with the plans we outlined at the start of the financial year. Solid performances from most of our businesses are partially obscured by the impact of the recent severe hurricane on our operations in Puerto Rico. In the second half we will benefit from our normal seasonal bias, our ongoing focus on cost efficiencies and from additional business which commenced in the period, including the South Western Railway franchise. We expect to make further progress and deliver substantial free cash generation for the year as a whole."

Thursday, 11 January 2018


Another website which shows realtime information about trains has come to our attention.
TRAKSY allows the user to look in detail at rail locations and see each train on a track diagram.

Trains are identified by reporting number. Using the 'Places' section
we have looked at Manchester Piccadilly station and have clicked on 1M96 which is the Glasgow Central to Manchester Airport service. It was 1 minute early leaving Glasgow and 4 minutes late at Manchester Piccadilly.
It is forecast to arrive 1 minute late at Manchester Airport at 14.48.
Further information can be obtained by clicking on 'View Train' or the train can be followed by clicking on 'Track Train'

An alternative view is to go back and click 'Trains' and a list of trains passing through the selected station is shown. Arrival and departure times are shown together with platform numbers and pathing details.

To use Traksy click on

Wednesday, 10 January 2018

What is the age of the train

Average train in Britain was built 21 years ago

  • Britain's trains are the oldest on average since records began, figures reveal
  • Some carriages are still being used that were built in the 1970s and 1980s 
  • Caledonian Sleeper that runs from London to Scotland has 42-year-old trains 

Industry figures reveal Britain's trains are more than 20 years old on average – the oldest since current records began.

Industry figures reveal Britain's trains are 21.1 years old on average – the oldest since current records began – Office of Rail and Road (ORR) statistics show. But some services run trains built in the 1970s and 1980s
But some services run trains built in the 1970s and 1980s.
The average age of 21.1 years is older than at any point in publicly available records and 60 per cent older than in 2006.
The ORR has previously said older trains can result in worse reliability, less comfortable journeys and poorer performance than modern versions, although it notes that older rolling stock can be refurbished.
Travellers using the Caledonian Sleeper service between London and Scotland have to put up with Britain's oldest trains at 42 years old, although completely new sleeper trains are being built by CAF.
Merseyrail, which runs trains in Merseyside, has the second oldest fleet at 38 years old, but again new trains are on order and will soon be in service.

TransPennine Express, which operates in northern England and Scotland, has the newest trains at an average of just nine years old. They also have new trains and loco hauled carriages being built.
Campaign for Better Transport chief executive Stephen Joseph claimed the age of Britain's trains shows 'just how far the railways have to go to modernise'.
ORR data shows the average age of rolling stock between January and March each year since 2001.
A number of new trains were introduced following the end of British Rail in the mid-1990s but the average age has risen during the past decade.

The Rail Delivery Group (RDG), representing train operators, says more than 5,500 new carriages will be in use across Britain by the end of 2020 and many other trains are undergoing multi-million pound refurbishments.
Chief executive Paul Plummer said: 'This will help to deliver our commitment to boost customer satisfaction so that Britain continues to have the most highly rated major railway in Europe.'
A new fleet of trains on Great Western Railway costing £5.7 billion in October was introduced in late 2017
Trains in London and south-east England are typically 18 years old, while regional services are 24 years old.
The latest research by watchdog Transport Focus found that fewer than seven out of 10 (68 per cent) passengers on regional trains are satisfied with the upkeep and repair of carriages, down by two percentage points in the last 12 months.

Tuesday, 9 January 2018

Final Cost of Edinburgh Trams Will be Over 1 Billion

THE final true cost of the tram project will be over £1 billion, the inquiry into the troubled project has been told.

Inquiry counsel Euan Mackenzie QC said on top of the official £776m price for the scheme, there had been £44m tram-related spending by the council or the Scottish Government and there would be interest payments on borrowing over 30 years totalling £182.5m.

Mr Mackenzie said: “If these are added together, one comes to over £1 billion, which from a lay perspective may be said to be the true cost of the tram project.”
The figures were based on detailed analysis of the budget and costs of the project carried out by council finance expert John Connarty at the inquiry’s request.
Mr Connarty was also asked to look at what else the extra money for the trams could have been spent on at a time when the council is under severe financial pressure.
He reported that the council had made savings totalling £145m over the past three years.
Mr Mackenzie said the council’s borrowing for the tram project meant having to make interest payments of £14.3m a year. Over the past three years that would amount to £42.9m - equivalent to almost one-third of the budget cuts made by the council.
The council had to borrow £231m to bridge the gap between the original £545m budget and the final £776m cost.
But it also had to borrow another £15.5m to make up for a shortfall in contributions by developers along the route. The council budgeted to receive £25m over 20 years, but contributions received to date total £9.5rn.

Expenditure not included in the final £776m tram budget included £16.8m on the legislation which needed to be passed by the Scottish Parliament to allow the project. This was covered by grants from the Scottish Government.
There was also £5.4m for reinstating roads and pavements in Leith Walk and Constitution Street and public realm works in St Andrew Square, which was paid for by the council.
An estimated £6.3m of business rates revenue was lost through the relief scheme for businesses affected by the tram works. And the council spent £990,000 on support for the Open for Business scheme to boost local businesses.
Winding up the TIE pension fund cost £4.8m, borne by the council, and the project incurred £9.8m of revenue spending over three years, which also came out of council budgets.


Stagecoach buses and coaches past and present feature in an album on the flickr site, which can now be viewed by clicking  here

Monday, 8 January 2018

GWR Introduces More IEP's into Service

Great Western Railway (GWR) has now introduced the first Intercity Express Trains (IET) on the Carmarthen to London Paddington services; a further nine more services a day between Swansea and London Paddington including the first IET Pullman Dining service (10.45 London Paddington to Swansea), and eight services between Cardiff Central and London Paddington.

These are on top of the existing IET services that were launched last October. Each train has as many as 24% more seats than the High Speed Train it replaces.

GWR is providing more than 1,800 extra trains seats between London and South Wales every day with the continued introduction of new IET into passenger service.

Speaking at the introduction of the new services, GWR Managing Director Mark Hopwood said:

“Today marks a massive step towards delivering the capacity improvements we have promised, and the biggest fleet upgrade in a generation.

“I am delighted to see even more IETs enter service, enabling us to make further improvements throughout our network, and supporting the Welsh communities we serve.

“Let me also take this opportunity to thank our passengers for their patience while travelling during the Christmas period, as Network Rail continued its programme to modernise the Great Western.”

As well as improvements to long distance services, GWR has replaced services between Cardiff and Taunton with newer rolling stock, providing up to double the number of seats per train. The trains will each day provide more than 1,700 additional seats between Cardiff and Taunton (calling at Patchway, Filton Abbey Wood and Bristol Temple Meads).

Secretary of State for Wales Alun Cairns said:

“I’m delighted to see GWR delivering on their promise and providing passengers across West Wales with the train service they deserve.

“Today’s announcement will enable more commuters and travellers to reach their destinations on time, forging greater transport and economic connections between the whole of South Wales and London.

“The UK Government is committed to building a bigger, better and more sustainable railway for Wales, improving journey times and passenger comfort using the latest technology across the network.”

The new Intercity Express Trains have also reached Great Malvern, Worcester and Oxford for the first time, and as well as to South Wales even more journeys will be operated by the new trains on routes between London and Bristol, and London and Taunton.

The trains are being built by the 900-strong workforce at Hitachi’s North East factory in Newton Aycliffe, as part of the Government’s £5.7bn Intercity Express Programme.

In total 36 x 5 carriage trains and 21 x 9 carriage are being built with all trains due in service by December 2018, and a significant timetable change in January 2019 realising the full capacity and frequency benefits the new trains will bring. Journey times from Bristol will be slashed by up to 17 minutes, and by up to 14 minutes from Swansea.

Network Rail Western route managing director Mark Langman said:

“This is another major step forward in the biggest ever transformation on the Great Western Mainline as we deliver more trains, more seats and better journeys for communities across the route.

“It has been a real team effort as Network Rail and GWR staff worked tirelessly to get to this stage. It is an example of track and train working together for the benefit of the passenger and really does herald an exciting time on the railway.”