Great Western Railway has launched its new weekday timetable from Bristol today (Monday, December 16).
The changes are the biggest to the network since 1976 and include a new super-fast route between Bristol Parkway and London Paddington, that takes just 68 minutes and uses the electric capability of GWR’s Intercity Express Trains for the first time.
There will also be a quicker service between Bristol Temple Meads and the capital that takes 79 minutes and more services from both Bristol stations.
Regular travellers have been asked to check journey times, which GWR says will also benefit customers travelling from Taunton, Weston-super-Mare, Bath and Chippenham.
From today, three extra trains will operate between Bristol Temple Meads and London Paddington in the morning and evening peaks, increasing the frequency of service from two an hour to three. The extra trains will run non-stop from Chippenham.
There will also be four extra off-peak services from Bristol Temple Meads to London Paddington via Bristol Parkway.
Two additional services in the morning and evening peaks will also operate non-stop from Bristol Parkway (originating in South Wales) and then direct into London Paddington.
GWR Managing Director Mark Hopwood said: “This timetable has been a number of years in the making, enabling us to deliver the benefits of new Intercity Express Trains, and modernised infrastructure, for our customers.
“With the changes we realise that investment in trains and infrastructure, and deliver on the promise we made to customers for more services, more seats and faster journeys.
“More than 350 extra on-board staff have been taken on, more than 1,200 drivers trained, and we will have extra staff at stations throughout our network to help as we embark on this new journey.
“We have worked hard to help people understand how the changes will affect them. We have spoken with our customers as often as possible, possibly annoyingly so, to help ensure a smooth transition, but we all recognise there will be some issues to iron out as everyone gets used to the changes.”
West of England Mayor, Tim Bowles, said: ”This is great news for the West of England and will help people switch from cars to public transport, reducing congestion and improving the air we breathe.
“The new timetable will support the new rail services we have planned across the region through MetroWest and it’s great to see even more investment in both track and train.”
‘Trains will help to increase seat numbers on the line by more than 1,800 every weekday’
There are also improvements between Cardiff and Bristol, according to GWR, which is continuing to roll out its five-carriage Turbo trains to replace the three-carriage Class 150 units on the Cardiff to Portsmouth route.
Those travelling on GWR services between Cardiff, Bristol and the South West can also expect to see Castle Class trains – modernised high-speed trains with four carriages and automatic closing doors – running at the busiest times of day on the route.
These trains will help to increase seat numbers on the line by more than 1,800 every weekday.
The Severn Beach line, which was the first to use longer Turbo trains in 2017, will also have a service extending through to Severn Beach on Sundays.
Mike Gallop, Network Rail Route Managing Director for Wales and Western, added: “The timetable change this December will be the biggest since 1976 and will mean faster journeys and more frequent services for passengers.
“It follows unprecedented investment in railway infrastructure including electrification, improved signalling, upgraded stations and much more, which together with the introduction of new trains will transform rail travel.”
GWR is encouraging travellers to find out more at www.gwr.com/timetable2019 before they head to their local station.
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