New First Great Western trains to ease 'cattle-truck' trips for commuters into Paddington
Overcrowding faced by commuters into Paddington will be eased with a new fleet of trains on services from the South-West to London. First Great Western is to lease 29 new long-distance trains, which will run from Cornwall to the capital. They are similar to Hitachi’s new Intercity Express trains which are scheduled to run on the Great Western line between London and South Wales from 2017. The service, which has stops at Reading and Newbury, will have more than 1,000 extra peak-time seats, and up to a quarter more seats than most of those on the route at present. It will come into operation from 2018. Rail minister Claire Perry said: “These new trains will make a real difference to the millions of commuters, business travellers and tourists who use this route every year. This will not only mean better journeys for customers, it will also help to secure long-term economic growth across the country.” The £360 million fleet will cut journey times from London to Exeter by up to five minutes, to Plymouth by up to six minutes, and to Penzance by up to 14. A better service will be welcomed by commuters, who have endured overcrowding and huge delays — including a shutdown on the mainline from Paddington at the last Christmas period due to over-running engineering work.
The trains being phased out are the 125 InterCity fleet, some dating back to the Seventies. Manufactured by Hitachi, the new ones are more powerful and environmentally friendly than the existing 40-year-old stock. The new trains can operate on both non-electric and electric routes. In the Thames Valley from next spring, First Great Western will also replace most of its Turbo commuter fleet with a mix of new or nearly-new electric trains.
First Great Western deputy managing director Andrew Mellors said: “These trains will help us deliver faster, more frequent services. We know how important the railway is to the economies and communities of the South-West.”
Ministers say £38 billion is being invested in the railways. But they have faced criticism over delays to some rail projects.