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.”