Great Western Railway (train Operating Company)
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Great Western Railway Train Operating Company
Great Western Railway
Greater west railw logo.svg
Swindon - GWR 800005 and 800030.JPG
Overview
Franchise(s)
  • InterCity Great Western
    4 February 1996 - 31 March 2006
  • Greater Western
    1 April 2006 - 31 March 2020[1]
Main region(s) London, Thames Valley, South West England, South Wales
Other region(s) West Midlands, South East England
Fleet size
Stations called at over 270
Stations operated 197
Route km operated 2129.2
National Rail abbreviation GW
Parent company FirstGroup
Website www.gwr.com
Route map
Route map

First Greater Western Limited,[2] trading as Great Western Railway (GWR), is a British train operating company owned by FirstGroup that operates the Greater Western railway franchise. It manages 197 stations and its trains call at over 270.[3] GWR operates long-distance inter-city services along the Great Western Main Line to and from South West England and South Wales, as well as the Night Riviera sleeper service between London and Penzance. It also provides commuter/outer-suburban services from its London terminus at Paddington to West London, the Thames Valley region including Berkshire, parts of Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire; and regional services throughout the West of England to the South coast of England. GWR is due to begin operating the Heathrow Express service under a management contract on behalf of Heathrow Airport Holdings from August 2018.[4]

The company began operating in February 1996 as Great Western Trains, as part of the privatisation of British Rail. In December 1998 it became First Great Western[5] after FirstGroup bought out its partners' shares in Great Western Holdings. In April 2006, First Great Western, First Great Western Link and Wessex Trains were combined into the new Greater Western franchise and brought under the First Great Western brand. The company adopted its current name and a new livery in September 2015 to coincide with the start of an extended franchise that is due to run until April 2020.[1]

History

An InterCity 125 as operated by the original Great Western Trains franchise in 1996 - 1998

As part of the privatisation of British Rail, the Great Western InterCity franchise was awarded by the Director of Passenger Rail Franchising to Great Western Holdings in December 1995 and began operations on 4 February 1996. Great Western Holdings was owned by some former British Rail managers (51%), FirstBus (24.5%) and 3i (24.5%).[6][7]

In March 1998, FirstGroup bought out its partners' stakes to give it 100% ownership.[8][9][10] In December 1998, the franchise was rebranded as First Great Western.[11]

On 1 April 2004, First Great Western Link commenced operating the Thames Trains franchise. It operated local train services from Paddington to Slough, Henley-on-Thames, Reading, Didcot, Oxford, Newbury, Bedwyn, Worcester, Hereford, Banbury and Stratford upon Avon. It also operated services from Reading to Gatwick Airport (via Guildford and Dorking), and from Reading to Basingstoke.[12]

First Great Western Link operated the Thames Trains franchise from April 2004 until it was absorbed into the Greater Western franchise in 2006.

On 1 April 2006, the Great Western, Great Western Link and Wessex Trains franchises were combined into a new Greater Western franchise. FirstGroup, National Express and Stagecoach were shortlisted to bid for this new franchise. On 13 December 2005, it was announced that FirstGroup had won the franchise.[13] Originally, First planned to subdivide its services into three categories based on routes.[14] Following feedback from staff and stakeholders, the decision was taken to re-brand and re-livery all services as 'First Great Western'.[15]

In May 2011, FirstGroup announced that it had decided not to take up the option to extend its franchise beyond the end of March 2013. FirstGroup stated that, in the light of the £1bn plan to electrify the Great Western route from London via Bristol to Cardiff, it wanted to try to negotiate a longer-term deal. CEO Tim O'Toole said: "We believe we are best placed to manage these projects and capture the benefits through a longer-term franchise."[16]

By not taking up the option to extend its original franchise contract for a further three years, FirstGroup avoided having to pay £826.6m to the government; it received extra subsidies totalling £133m from the government in 2010.[17]

In March 2012 Arriva, FirstGroup, National Express and Stagecoach were shortlisted to bid for the new franchise. The winner was expected to be announced in December 2012, with the new franchisee taking over in April 2013;[18] however, it was announced in July 2012 that the franchise would be extended, due to the late issue of the Invitation to Tender (ITT).[19] The ITT ran from the end of July until October 2012. The winner would have been announced in March 2013, and taken on the franchise from 21 July 2013 until the end of July 2028.[20] The new franchise would include the introduction of new Intercity Express Trains, capacity enhancements and smart ticketing.[21] The award of the franchise was again delayed in October 2012, while the Department for Transport reviewed the way rail franchises are awarded.

In January 2013, the government announced that the current competition for the franchise had been terminated, and that FirstGroup's contract had been extended until October 2013.[22] A two-year franchise extension until September 2015 was agreed in October 2013,[23][24] and subsequently extended until March 2019.[25][26][27] A further extension to April 2019 was granted in March 2015.[28]

The company rebranded itself as Great Western Railway (GWR) on 20 September 2015 and introduced a green livery in recognition of the former Great Western Railway.[29][30] The new livery was first introduced when first-class HST interiors were refurbished, and on sleeper carriages and Class 57/6 locomotives.[31]

Routes

Great Western Railway is the primary train operator in Devon, Cornwall, Somerset, Bristol, Berkshire, Wiltshire and Gloucestershire.

Main line services

South Wales
Route tph Calling at
London Paddington to Cardiff Central 2 Reading, Didcot Parkway, Swindon, Bristol Parkway, Newport and Cardiff Central. Some services extend to Bridgend, Port Talbot Parkway, Neath and Swansea; and others to Carmarthen and, during the summer, Pembroke Dock.
West of England/Bristol
Route tph Calling at
London Paddington to Bristol Temple Meads 2 Reading, Didcot Parkway (1tph off-peak), Swindon, Chippenham, Bath Spa and Bristol Temple Meads. Some services are extended to Weston-super-Mare and Taunton during peak periods, other services are extended to Exeter St Davids, Paignton, Plymouth and Penzance.
West Country
Route tph Calling at
London Paddington to Plymouth/Penzance 1 Reading, Newbury, Pewsey, Westbury, Castle Cary, Taunton, Tiverton Parkway, Exeter St Davids, Newton Abbot, Totnes, Plymouth, Liskeard, Bodmin Parkway, Lostwithiel, Par, St Austell, Truro, Redruth, Camborne, Hayle, St Erth and Penzance.

Services include the Cornish Riviera and Royal Duchy expresses.

Thames Valley/Cotswolds
Route tph Calling at
London Paddington to Oxford (direct) 2 Slough, Reading, Didcot Parkway (8tpd Monday - Friday, 10tpd Saturday and 16tpd Sunday) and Oxford. (For extension services see Peak / Limited services below)
London Paddington to Didcot Parkway 2 Ealing Broadway, Southall, Hayes and Harlington, West Drayton, Iver, Langley, Slough, Maidenhead, Twyford, Reading, Tilehurst, Pangbourne, Goring and Streatley, Cholsey and Didcot Parkway

Some services are extended to Oxford and additionally call at Appleford, Culham, Radley and Oxford.

London Paddington to Reading 2 Ealing Broadway, Southall, Hayes and Harlington, West Drayton, Slough, Burnham, Taplow, Maidenhead, Twyford and Reading
Cheltenham Direct
Route tph Calling at
London Paddington/Swindon to Cheltenham Spa 1 Reading, Didcot Parkway, Swindon, Kemble, Stroud, Stonehouse, Gloucester and Cheltenham Spa

This service is a through London-Cheltenham HST every other hour, alternating with a local Swindon-Cheltenham Sprinter.

Peak Only / Limited Services
Route tpd Calling at
London Paddington to Hereford via Oxford and Worcester 5 to Hereford
10 to Great Malvern
17 to Worcester
Slough, Reading, Didcot Parkway (3tpd Monday - Friday, 2tpd Saturday, All Services Sunday) Oxford, Hanborough, Charlbury, Kingham, Moreton-in-Marsh, Evesham, Worcester Shrub Hill, Worcester Foregate Street, Malvern Link, Great Malvern, Colwall, Ledbury and Hereford. Additional direct services to Worcester Shrub Hill are available via Cheltenham Spa.[32]
London Paddington to Carmarthen 1 (Mon-Sat)
3 (Sun)
Reading, Didcot Parkway, Swindon, Bristol Parkway, Newport, Cardiff Central, Bridgend, Port Talbot Parkway, Neath, Swansea, Llanelli, Pembrey & Burry Port and Carmarthen. Mon-Sat London bound train also calls at Ferryside and Kidwelly.
Swansea to Carmarthen (Saturdays only) 1 Llanelli, Pembrey & Burry Port, Carmarthen.
Swansea to Pembroke Dock (Summer Saturdays only) 1 (w/b only) Llanelli, Pembrey & Burry Port, Carmarthen, Whitland, Narberth, Kilgetty, Saundersfoot, Tenby, Penally, Manorbier, Lamphey, Pembroke and Pembroke Dock.
London Paddington to Pembroke Dock (Summer Saturdays only) 1 from London
2 to London
Reading, Swindon, Bristol Parkway, Newport, Cardiff Central, Bridgend, Port Talbot Parkway, Neath, Swansea, Llanelli, Pembrey & Burry Port, Carmarthen, Whitland, Saundersfoot, Tenby, Manorbier, Pembroke and Pembroke Dock. One train to London also calls at Lamphey, Penally, Kilgetty and Narberth,
London Paddington to Paignton 6 Either via Bristol TM or Berks & Hants line. Then: Taunton, Tiverton Parkway, Exeter St Davids, Dawlish, Teignmouth, Newton Abbot, Torre, Torquay, Paignton. One service each way calls at Starcross and Exeter St Thomas, and then skips Tiverton Parkway. Other services in the summer also call at Dawlish Warren.
London Paddington to Bedwyn 11 Reading, Theale, Thatcham, Newbury, Kintbury, Hungerford, Bedwyn. [33]

Commuter and local routes

Great Western Railway operates commuter services between London and destinations such as Slough, Greenford, Reading, Didcot, Oxford, Newbury, Bedwyn, Hereford, Worcester and Banbury. There are also services between Reading and Basingstoke; between Reading and Gatwick Airport via Guildford and Dorking Deepdene on the North Downs Line; and between Bristol and Cardiff via Newport.

Trains also run on various north-south routes from Cardiff, Gloucester and Worcester to Taunton, Weymouth, Salisbury, Southampton, Portsmouth and Brighton. Many of these run via Bristol. The company also runs trains on local routes including branch lines in Devon and Cornwall, such as the Looe, Newquay, Falmouth and St Ives branch lines in Cornwall; the Exmouth, Paignton and Barnstaple branch lines in Devon; and the Gunnislake branch line in Devon and Cornwall.

Thames Valley Locals
Route tph Calling at
Greenford branch line 2 West Ealing, Drayton Green, Castle Bar Park, South Greenford, and Greenford.
Great Western Main Line (Hayes & Harlington local service) 2 London Paddington, Acton Main Line, Ealing Broadway, West Ealing, Southall, Hayes & Harlington
Cherwell Valley Line (Didcot Parkway - Oxford / Banbury) 2 Didcot Parkway, Appleford, Culham, Radley, Oxford, Heyford, Tackley, Kings Sutton, Banbury
Slough to Windsor & Eton Line 3 Slough, and Windsor & Eton Central
Marlow Branch Line 1 Furze Platt, Cookham, Bourne End, and Marlow
Henley Branch Line 2 Wargrave, Shiplake, and Henley-on-Thames
Bristol & West Locals
Route tph Calling at
Severn Beach Line (Bristol Temple Meads - Severn Beach) 2 Bristol Temple Meads, Lawrence Hill, Stapleton Road, Montpelier, Redland, Clifton Down, Sea Mills, Shirehampton, Avonmouth, St Andrews Road and Severn Beach
Heart of Wessex Line (Gloucester - Weymouth) 1 Gloucester, Cam and Dursley, Yate, Bristol Parkway, Filton Abbey Wood, Stapleton Road, Lawrence Hill, Bristol Temple Meads, Keynsham, Oldfield Park, Bath Spa, Freshford, Avoncliff, Bradford-on-Avon, Trowbridge, Westbury, Frome, Bruton, Castle Cary, Yeovil Pen Mill, Thornford, Yetminster, Chetnole, Maiden Newton, Dorchester West, Upwey, and Weymouth

One train approximately every two hours is extended to/from Great Malvern (some of these services only run to/from Worcester).

TransWilts Line (Swindon - Westbury) 1/3 Swindon, Chippenham, Melksham, Trowbridge, Westbury

One train per day extended to/from Frome, one morning service from Southampton and one evening service to Southampton.

South Wales Main Line (Cardiff - Bristol) 2 Cardiff Central, Newport, Severn Tunnel Junction, Patchway, Bristol Temple Meads.
Wessex Main Line 1 Cardiff Central, Newport, Severn Tunnel Junction, Patchway, Bristol Temple Meads, Keynsham, Oldfield Park, Bath Spa, Trowbridge, Bradford-upon-Avon, Westbury, Warminster, Salisbury, Romsey, Southampton Central, Fareham, Cosham, Fratton, Portsmouth & Southsea, and Portsmouth Harbour.
Golden Valley Line (Swindon-Gloucester) 1 Swindon, Kemble, Stroud, Stonehouse, and Gloucester

Every other service on this route is a through London HST; see also Cheltenham Direct in Mainline section.

Bristol to Taunton 2 Bedminster (1tph), Parson Street (1tph), Nailsea and Backwell, Yatton, Worle, Weston Milton (1tph), Weston Super Mare, Highbridge and Burnham (1tph), Bridgewater (1tph) and Taunton (1tph).

Approximately 2 tph

Some Services are extended to London Paddington, Bristol Parkway, Severn Beach, Cardiff, Exeter St David's and Penzance.

Devon Locals
Route tph Calling at
Riviera Line (Exeter - Paignton) 1/2 Paignton, Torquay, Torre, Newton Abbot, Teignmouth, Dawlish, Dawlish Warren, Starcross, Exeter St Thomas, and Exeter St Davids
Avocet Line (Exeter - Exmouth) 1/2 Exeter Central, St James Park, Polsloe Bridge, Digby and Sowton, Newcourt, Topsham, Exton, Lympstone Commando, Lympstone Village, and Exmouth
Tarka Line (Exeter - Barnstaple) 1 Exeter St Davids, Newton St. Cyres, Crediton, Yeoford, Copplestone, Morchard Road, Lapford, Eggesford, King's Nympton, Portsmouth Arms, Umberleigh, Chapelton, and Barnstaple
Cornish Locals
Route tph Calling at
Atlantic Coast Line (Par-Newquay) 1 Par, Luxulyan, Bugle, Roche, St Columb Road, Quintrell Downs, Newquay. During summer, local services are cut on certain days which are replaced by expresses to and from London which run non-stop between Par and Newquay.
Looe Valley Line (Liskeard-Looe) 1 Liskeard, Coombe Junction Halt, St Keyne Wishing Well Halt, Causeland, Sandplace, Looe
Maritime Line (Truro-Falmouth) 2 Truro, Perranwell, Penryn, Penmere, Falmouth Town, Falmouth Docks
St Ives Bay Line (St Erth-St Ives) 2 St Erth, Lelant Saltings, Lelant, Carbis bay, St Ives
Tamar Valley Line
(Plymouth-Gunnislake)
1 Plymouth, Devonport, Dockyard, Keyham, St Budeaux Victoria Road, Bere Ferrers, Bere Alston, Calstock, Gunnislake

Named trains

Great Western Railway operates a number of named passenger trains, including:[34]

Name Origin Destination Other details
The Armada Plymouth London Paddington Penzance on Westbound Friday service
The Atlantic Coast Express London Paddington Newquay Summer service
The Bristolian London Paddington Bristol Temple Meads Weston-super-Mare Eastbound only
The Capitals United Swansea London Paddington Swansea to Paddington early morning service does not call at Reading
The Cathedrals Express Hereford London Paddington None
The Cheltenham Spa Express London Paddington Cheltenham Spa None
The Cornishman Penzance London Paddington Westbound service additionally calls at Pewsey, Westbury & Castle Cary
The Cornish Riviera London Paddington Penzance Eastbound service does not call at Newton Abbot
The Devon Express London Paddington Paignton 07:30 Westbound only service. No return journey. Weekdays only
The Golden Hind Penzance London Paddington Westbound service additionally calls at Newbury and Totnes
The Mayflower London Paddington Plymouth Eastbound service does not call at Castle Cary and Westbury
The Merchant Venturer London Paddington Bristol Temple Meads/Weston-super-Mare Eastbound only
The Night Riviera London Paddington Penzance See Night Riviera
The Pembroke Coast Express[35] London Paddington Pembroke Dock Summer Saturday only
The Red Dragon[35] London Paddington Carmarthen None
The Royal Duchy London Paddington Penzance Eastbound service calls additionally at Tiverton Parkway & Taunton
The Saint David[35] London Paddington Swansea None
The Torbay Express London Paddington Paignton Westbound service via Bristol TM, Eastbound service via Castle Cary
The Weymouth Wizard Bristol Temple Meads Weymouth Summer Saturday only
Y Cymro -- The Welshman[35] Swansea London Paddington 07:28 Eastbound only

Onboard services

Pullman Dining

Great Western Railway is the only major UK rail operator which still has restaurant cars. These operate on certain West Country and Wales trains to/from London Paddington and are available to First Class and Standard Class passengers for a premium on top of the fare.[36]

First Class

GWR has First Class on all its long distance high speed services, and some local services in London on the Class 166 turbos. First Class on the HSTs includes leather seating with tables at every seat as well as an at-seat service provided by a customer host, on most longer journeys.[37] Following the most recent refurbishment, done shortly prior to when the company rebranded as Great Western Railway, these carriages also include new USB points at each table, alongside the traditional three-pin sockets. There is upgraded WiFi throughout the First Class carriages.[37]

Standard Class

Standard Class is provided on all services. On HSTs, coach C is the standard wheelchair-accessible coach with an accessible toilet; coach A is the quiet coach.

Interior of a refurbished HST standard class carriage in the green colour scheme introduced in 2015

Great Western Larder

This is a buffet car service which is available on all long-distance services operated by HSTs (not on the newer Intercity Express Trains, which have at-seat trolley service). It can be found in coach K or coach F, separating First and Standard class accommodation.

Performance

Punctuality

In 2004-2005, 79.6% of trains arrived on time (defined as within 10 minutes of their scheduled arrival time).[38] On 22 December 2006, the First Great Western InterCity service was declared the worst in Britain for delays, according to figures from the Office of Rail Regulation, with more than one in four trains running late.[39] First was also the only train company to achieve a year-on-year fall in performance results.[]

First Great Western admitted to misreporting the number of cancellations in the period from August to December 2007, revised figures showing the company to have breached the cancellation threshold in the franchise contract. Specifically the company was alleged to have deliberately cancelled trains on the day prior to service without the prior approval of the Department for Transport, and without recording these cancellations on their performance figures. The company was also accused of falsifying records in order to claim dispensation for large numbers of cancellations.[40] First Great Western was named in a Passenger Focus survey as the worst train operating company for 2007.[41]

On 6 September 2007 FirstGroup announced changes to its management structure, apparently designed to strengthen the First Great Western commuter services. Anthony Smith, head of the rail users council Passenger Focus commented, "A fresh management approach is welcome. Clearly, looking at the passenger satisfaction scores for First Great Western, the train company and Network Rail have a lot to do. However, passengers will believe it when they see improvements."[42]

GWR has some of the most overcrowded services on the network. Here, passengers at Bristol Temple Meads crowd on to a service for Cardiff Central.

Some delays are attributable to Network Rail rather than the operator, as the Office of Rail Regulation (ORR) found in September 2007,[43] when it remarked that the First Great Western service continued "to suffer from very high levels of delays attributed to Network Rail" and described Network Rail's performance as "exceptionally disappointing".

By 2009, passenger satisfaction with First Great Western was described by Passenger Focus as having "significantly improved".[44]

The company is no longer the worst-performing UK rail operator, a title which it held for a long period. However, the Which? survey of rail passengers published in February 2013 showed the company scoring lowest of the larger operators with less than 40% satisfaction (Virgin, which topped the poll, managed 67%).[45]

The latest punctuality statistics to be released by Network Rail for period 7 of 2013/2014 were 89.3% PPM (Public Performance Measure) and a MAA (Moving Annual Average) of 88.8% for the 12 months up to 12 October 2013.[46]

Remedial Plan

In February 2008 the Secretary of State for Transport stated that FGW had "fallen persistently short of customers' expectations and been unacceptable to both passengers and government". She issued First Great Western with a Breach Notice for misreporting cancellations and a Remedial Plan Notice as a result of exceptionally high levels of cancellations and low passenger satisfaction. As part of the Remedial Plan Notice, First Great Western was required to achieve improvement milestones, to lease five more Class 150 units to allow three-car trains to be used on Portsmouth-Cardiff services, to undertake a much more extensive refurbishment of the Thames Turbo fleet, to offer 50% higher compensation for the duration of the franchise, to offer 500,000 more cheap tickets on off-peak services, and to improve station customer information systems. Failure to do this would result in FGW losing its franchise. FirstGroup's railway operating profit, meanwhile, was reported to have risen 10% in the six months to September 2007.[47][48]

Fake tickets distributed by protestors on 22 January 2007

By June 2009, FGW had transformed its performance to become one of the UK rail network's more punctual operators, recording 94.6% of trains arriving on time.[49] In February 2010 FGW was named Train Operator of the Year at the national Rail Business awards. Presenting the award, judges said, "First Great Western provides an extensive network of commuter, regional, local and intercity trains. The systems they have put into place over the last two years have made a significant improvement to the service they now provide."[50]

However, in February 2015 First Great Western came 17th (out of 21) in Which? magazine's Best and worst UK train companies survey. Customers gave First Great Western a score of 47% (compared to the worst performing operator, Thameslink and Great Northern, with a score of 43%, and the best performing operator, Grand Central, with a score of 76%). First Great Western also scored 3/5 stars across five of six specific categories, apart from Value for money in which First Great Western scored 2/5 stars.[51]

Overcrowding

Passenger numbers on Great Western Railway from 2010/2011 Q4 - 2016/17 Q3 (rolling 12-month figure)[52][53]

First Great Western has been criticised for overcrowded trains, and in January 2007 commuters on the Bath-Bristol service staged a protest against overcrowding. Participants were issued with imitation tickets printed with "Ticket type: standing only", "Class: cattle truck", "Route: hell and back", "Price: up 12%". The company threatened protestors with criminal prosecution and fines of £5,000, but staff failed to enforce ticket requirements.[54] Alison Forster, First Great Western's Managing Director at that time, apologised to customers.[55]

In January 2008 another fare strike was held as a passenger group said that not enough improvements have been made, despite First Great Western announcing that 2008 season tickets and car parking charges would be frozen until the end of the year.[56][57]

In August 2010 First Great Western was shown to have operated all of the top ten most overcrowded trains in England and Wales, mostly between Reading and London Paddington.[58] By December 2011, this had reduced to two.[59]

In 2011 First Great Western was revealed to be the train company with the highest levels of overcrowding: an average of 16.6% of passengers were shown to standing during the morning and evening peak times.[60] In 2012 it held the record for the most overcrowded train, carrying nearly twice its capacity, the 07:44 Henley-on-Thames to London Paddington.[59] Paddington, the London terminus for many FGW services, was identified as the most overcrowded station.[58] The company was also listed as the operator with the most passengers in excess of capacity in the south east region in 2012.[61]

Strike action

The pre-imminent arrival of the new Class 800 saw a series of strikes by the RMT union over who has the right to control the doors, First Great Western as it was known at the time, wanted to replace guards with driver-only operation (DOO), however following several discussions it was agreed to keep guards on all IET services.[62] Another strike took place In early December 2016, amidst a background of ongoing rail strikes on a national level, the RMT ballotted Servest UK workers who were employed on an outsourcing contract to GWR as cleaners; the ballot passed in favour of strike action by 98%. A disruptive transfer period in the outsourcing contract, from Mitie to Servest UK, had resulted in what the RMT referred to as the creation of a "two-tier workforce" amongst cleaners at GWR, with an inequality in pay and working conditions between cleaners employed directly by GWR and those outsourced to Servest UK.[63] Two 24-hour strikes were held between 0600-0600 on 16-17 December and 23-24 December,[64] followed by a 48-hour strike between 0600 on 19 January and 0600 on 21 January 2017.[65] Further industrial action was suspended by the RMT following the January strike as a result of an improvement in ongoing negotiations between the RMT, GWR and Servest UK.[66] The dispute was formally resolved in July 2017 as RMT members voted in favour of accepting a new pay deal.[67]

Rolling stock

Great Western Railway inherited a fleet of InterCity 125 sets (Class 43 power cars and Mark 3 Coaches) and Class 57 locomotives and Mark 3 sleeper coaches from BR. In 2006, it inherited a fleet of Class 165 and Class 166 units from First Great Western Link, and a fleet of Class 143, Class 150, Class 153 and Class 158 units from Wessex Trains. The majority of GWR services are operated using diesel trains, although electric trains began limited operations in September 2016, and a large part of the GWR network is due to be electrified by Network Rail.

High-speed services

Class 43 High Speed Train

A Great Western Railway Class 43 powercar passing Sprey Point

GWR operates most long-distance services between London and destinations such as Swindon, Chippenham, Bath Spa, Bristol Temple Meads, Cardiff Central, Swansea, Carmarthen, Pembroke Dock (summer), Paignton, Newquay (summer), Cheltenham Spa, Oxford, Worcester Shrub Hill, Hereford, Plymouth and Penzance, using its large fleet of 58 HST "InterCity 125" sets.[68] These sets consist of seven or eight Mark 3 coaches between two Class 43 locomotives; GWR operates the largest InterCity 125 fleet and owns five sets outright; the rest are leased. From 2009 to 2012 all the company's intercity services were worked by HSTs except the Night Riviera sleeper service between London Paddington and Penzance, until Class 180s were reintroduced on the Cotswold line.[69]

GWR's High Speed Train fleet were refurbished by Bombardier in Derby and Ilford between 2006 and 2008,[70] with leather seats introduced in First Class, redesigned toilets, a redesigned buffet, and at-seat power points. The company opted for mainly airline seats, giving more seats per train.

After a successful trial by Angel Trains and FGW in 2004, two power cars received new MTU engines while two received new Paxman/MAN VP185s, fitted by Brush Traction of Loughborough. The MTU engine proved the better option, both for reliability and for emissions, resulting in FGW, Brush and Angel Trains starting the HST Modernisation programme. The last power cars to be re-engineered were released in April 2008, while several other companies' HSTs have now all undergone a similar programme.[71]

The youngest Class 43 locomotive dates from 1982, and the class is due to be replaced on some routes as part of the Intercity Express Programme by the Class 800 and Class 802 from 2017. These will be electric/diesel hybrids, introduced following the completion of electrification of the Great Western Main Line from Hayes & Harlington to the west of England in 2017.[72]

Following the Southall and Ladbroke Grove rail crashes, GWR requires its HSTs to have Automatic Train Protection and Automatic Warning System safety systems in operation. If either is faulty, the train is not used.

GWR are to retain 24 powercars and 48 carriages to form 11 four-carriage sets for use on local services between Cardiff and Penzance. These will be fitted with automatic doors and controlled emission toilets, to allow their operation beyond 2020, at Doncaster Works.[73]

Class 800 Intercity Express Train

A pair of five-car Class 800s between Bristol and Bath

The first of the Class 800 trains was introduced into passenger service on 16 October 2017.[74] However, teething problems surfaced on the inaugural service, with a leaking air conditioning unit leading to the service running late.[75]

Class 57/6

Class 57 locomotive at St Philip's Marsh depot

Four Class 57/6 locomotives are used to operate the Night Riviera Sleeper services, and also to provide emergency haulage for failed HST sets.[76] Occasionally, GWR hires 57/3 Direct Rail Services locomotives to operate the Night Riviera, if their own are stopped for maintenance and unavailable for traffic.[77]

Thames Valley

Class 165/1 Thames Turbo

The Class 165 "Thames Turbo" is a two- or three-coach DMU used on shorter-distance services in the Thames Valley area, such as those from West Ealing to Greenford, and stopping services to Reading, Didcot and Oxford. They are also used on Cotswold services to Great Malvern, Worcester and Hereford, the Henley, Marlow and Windsor branches, on services between Reading and Redhill or Gatwick Airport, and between Newbury and Reading. They are based at Reading Traction Maintenance Depot.[]

In response to its Remedial Plan Notice, First Great Western undertook a more thorough refurbishment of the Thames Turbo fleet than originally planned:[78] the trains were to be fitted with improved lighting, carpets, toilets, and a revised seating layout.[79] This refurbishment started in September 2016.

Class 166 Thames Express Turbo

The Class 166 "Thames Express Turbo" is a three-coach DMU, similar to the Class 165 units but with an internal layout more suitable for longer-distance services. They are used on services from London to Bedwyn and Oxford, Reading to Basingstoke, the North Downs Line, and other routes. They operate on the Cotswold Line at weekends, and on weekdays if an HST is unavailable. Like the 165s, they are based at Reading Traction Maintenance Depot. Since 2017 some Class 166s have been based at Bristol to operate other routes.

Class 387/1 Electrostar

The Class 387 "Electrostar" is a four-coach EMU built by Bombardier, with a 2+2 seating layout, tables, plug-sockets and free WiFi. They can operate in four, eight and twelve-coach formations. The class began to enter service in September 2016 on weekday peak services between London Paddington and Hayes & Harlington using the overhead electrical equipment used by Heathrow Express. Services using the class were extended to Maidenhead in May 2017[80] and to Didcot Parkway in January 2018. They will operate on more Thames Valley routes once electrification work is complete.[81]

GWR will modify twelve of these by December 2019 with new first class seating, wi-fi, luggage racks and on-board entertainment to operate Heathrow Express services, replacing the existing Class 332.[4]

West of England

Class 143 Pacer

143621 and 143620 near Dawlish after repainting in 2017.

First Great Western inherited the small fleet of seven two-coach Class 143 Pacer railbuses from Wessex Trains following the franchise merger in April 2006.[82][83] They are currently used on suburban services in and around Exeter. The Class 143 fleet was fully refurbished during 2008 and 2009, and painted in the same livery as the rest of the West of England fleet.[84] Since they are unable to meet an accessibility requirement, they will be withdrawn at the end of 2019 unless they receive an extensive refurbishment proposed by Porterbrook (who own the class 143s and class 144s).[85] The type is due to be replaced by Class 158 units, cascaded from the Bristol area.[86]

Some units have been repainted in the green GWR livery, without any interior refurbishment. The first unit repainted was 143603 in July 2017.

Class 150/0 Sprinter

In late 2011 the two original three-car prototype Class 150 Sprinter units (Nos. 150001 and 150002) were transferred from London Midland to work services on the Reading to Basingstoke Line, allowing the release of Class 165 and 166 units to reinforce other Thames Valley services.[87] They were transferred to West of England services in 2017.

Class 150/1 Sprinter

First Great Western received a cascade of 15 Class 150/1 DMUs from London Midland and London Overground between 2010 and 2011, following the delivery of Class 172 Turbostar units to those franchises. These allowed the Class 142 units to be returned to the Northern Rail franchise, and for the Class 143 units to move south to work the Devon and Cornwall branch lines rather than Bristol area commuter services.[88]

In December 2017, units 150102, 150122 and 150124 became the first 150/1s to transfer from Great Western Railway to Northern.[89] 150102 and 150122 remain in a non-overhauled state whilst 150124 has received a C4 overhaul at Wabtec in Doncaster.[] From then on, the 150/1 units gradually left Great Western Railway for Northern with majority leaving in January and February 2018. The final units to leave the west were 150130 and 150131 (which were the highest numbered units in the fleet) in late March 2018.

Class 150/2 Sprinter

Refurbished and GWR-liveried Class 150/2 150247 at Bristol St Philip's Marsh depot.

The fleet of 17 two-coach Class 150 Sprinter units was inherited from Wessex Trains as part of the Greater Western franchise shuffle. The fleet had been refurbished by Wessex Trains in 2003, with 2+2 seating arranged in a mixture of 'airline' (face to back) and table seating. The fleet is widespread throughout the former Wessex area, and carried a maroon livery with advertising vinyls for South West Tourism. Each unit was sponsored by a district, town or attraction and carried a unique livery. Most received names of attractions, places and branch lines. Two units were repainted into the new First 'Local' livery, but all units are now due to receive the new green GWR livery. As part of a national fleet shuffle, eight units went to Arriva Trains Wales on 10 December 2006, and were replaced with 8 Class 158 units.

First Great Western received five extra Class 150/2 units in May 2007 as part of its Remedial Plan Notice, to enable three-car Class 158 trains to operate on the Portsmouth-Cardiff services.[78] Five Class 150 sets were hired from Arriva Trains Wales from March 2008 until they were returned in November 2010.

All of Great Western Railway's Class 150/2s are based at St Philip's Marsh Depot in Bristol. They will begin changing their home depot to an upgraded Exeter TMD in January 2018.[90]

Class 153 Super Sprinter

GWR green 153372 and 153318 at Exeter St Thomas

The Class 153 is a diesel railcar converted from a Class 155 two-coach unit in the early 1990s. GWR has 12, used to strengthen services and on some of the quieter branch lines, although stock shortages often see them operate on their own on busier routes. The refurbishment of class 153s was carried out by Wabtec in Eastleigh,[91] and was completed in early June 2008[92]

Unit 153305 returned to St Philip's Marsh Depot in Bristol from Long Marston in May 2017 repainted in a plain white livery as the unit was due to go off-lease from GWR in late-2017/early-2018, however subsequent units have been repainted in the green livery introduced for refurbished trains in 2015 (even though the class 153s are not being refurbished) as the leases have been extended for a short period.[]

As of January 2018, GWR's nine remaining Class 153s will begin taking-over services on the Cornish branch lines releasing Class 150/1s for cascade and Class 150/2s for regional services.[]

Class 158 Express Sprinter

Refurbished GWR-liveried Class 158 at Keynsham

The Class 158 is a two- or three-coach DMU used on regional express services in the former Wessex Trains area. In February 2008, as part of its Remedial Plan Notice, First Great Western announced that it would form some hybrid 3-car Class 158 units in March 2008, made possible by the transfer of five Class 150/2 units from Arriva Trains Wales.[78] There are now ten hybrid units in operation and, combined with the non-hybrid 3-car unit, this provides eleven 3-car units to operate services between Portsmouth and Cardiff, Great Malvern and Brighton, and Great Malvern and Weymouth. After the introduction of Class 150/1 trains from London Overground and London Midland, three of the remaining five 2-coach Class 158s will be reformed to provide two further 3-coach Class 158s.[93]

The fleet was refurbished in a programme begun in 2007,[94] which included fitting of reupholstered seats, new lighting and floor coverings, CCTV within the passenger saloons, and refurbished toilets. At the same time, the exteriors of the vehicles were repainted in the updated FGW livery, including artwork depicting various local places of interest. GWR's Class 158 vehicles were refurbished at Wabtec in Doncaster.[91]

GWR also hires a Class 158 (or occasionally a Class 159) from South Western Railway on a daily basis to cover for stock shortages. The units are crewed by GWR staff and usually work on Bristol area routes in order they can easily return to their depot in Salisbury.[]

In May 2018 Class 158s will begin running alongside the first completed 'Short set HST' on services between Cardiff, Bristol, Taunton, Exeter, Plymouth and Penzance. Gradually as more 'Short set HSTs' enter service on the route, the Class 158s will move onto local and cross-county services in and around Exeter.[]

Current fleet

Class Image Type Top speed Number Coaches Routes
mph km/h
Commuter, regional and branch line multiple units
Class 143 Pacer Exeter St Davids - GWR 143621+143612 arriving from Exmouth.JPG DMU 75 120 8 2
  • ExmouthPaignton/Barnstaple
  • ExeterBristol (occasional)[]
GWR Class 143 png.png
Class 150/0 Sprinter Creech St Michael - GWR 150002 Cardiff train.JPG DMU 75 120 2 3
  • CardiffPortsmouth[]
  • CardiffTaunton
  • BrightonGreat Malvern[]
  • BristolWeymouth[]
  • ExmouthPaignton/Barnstaple
  • ExeterPenzance
GWR Class 150-0.png
Class 150/2 Sprinter Taunton - GWR 150247 on relief line.JPG DMU 75 120 19 2
  • CardiffTaunton
  • BristolWeymouth
  • ExmouthPaignton/Barnstaple
  • ExeterPenzance
  • LIskeardLooe (summer)
  • ParNewquay (summer)
  • St ErthSt Ives (summer)
GWR Class 150-2.png
Class 150/9

Sprinter

Class 150-9 no.150926 at Plymouth..jpg DMU 75 120 2 3
  • CardiffPortsmouth
  • CardiffTaunton
  • BrightonGreat Malvern
  • BristolWeymouth
  • ExmouthPaignton/Barnstaple
  • ExeterPenzance
GWR Class 150-9.png
Class 153

Super Sprinter

Exeter TCD - GWR 153377.JPG DMU 75 120 12 1
  • ExmouthPaignton/Barnstaple
  • ExeterPenzance
  • PlymouthGunnislake
  • LiskeardLooe
  • ParNewquay
  • TruroFalmouth
  • St ErthSt Ives
Class 153 GWR.png
Class 158 Express Sprinter GWR 158956 02.jpg DMU 90 145 2 2
  • CardiffPortsmouth
  • CardiffTaunton
  • BrightonGreat Malvern
  • BristolWeymouth
  • ExeterPenzance (May 2018)
  • ExeterBarnstaple (January 2019)
13 3
GWR Class 158.png
Class 165/1 Networker Turbo Reading - GWR 165102 Basingstoke service.JPG DMU 90 145 20 2
  • London PaddingtonOxford, Bedwyn, Worcester and Hereford
  • ReadingRedhill/Gatwick Airport
  • ReadingBasingstoke/Newbury
  • Didcot ParkwayOxford/Banbury
  • TwyfordHenley-on-Thames
  • MaidenheadMarlow
  • SloughWindsor
  • West EalingGreenford
  • CardiffPortsmouth (Summer 2018)
16 3
GWR Class 165.png
Class 166 Networker Turbo Express St Philip's Marsh - GWR 166214.JPG DMU 90 145 21 3
  • London PaddingtonOxford, Bedwyn, Worcester and Hereford
  • Severn Beach Line[95]
  • Bristol ParkwayWeston-super-Mare[96]
  • Cardiff CentralTaunton
  • SwindonCheltenham Spa/Westbury
  • BristolWeymouth
  • BristolSouthampton
  • CardiffPortsmouth (Summer 2018)
GWR Class 166.png
Class 387/1 Electrostar Maidenhead - GWR 387148+387135 departing for Paddington.JPG EMU 110 177 45 4[97] London PaddingtonHayes & Harlington [80][98]
London PaddingtonReading/Didcot Parkway

ReadingNewbury (2018)

GWR Class 387.png
Inter-City and locomotives
Class 08 Long Rock Sidings - GWR 08410.JPG Shunting locomotive 15 24 9 n/a Stock movements in depots
Class 43

High Speed Train

Green HST at Cardiff Central (29469030424).jpg Diesel locomotive 125 200 119 8[a]



4[99]
London PaddingtonOxford, Great Malvern, Worcester, Hereford,
Cardiff, Swansea, Carmarthen, Bristol Temple Meads, Weston-super-Mare,
Taunton, Exeter, Paignton, Plymouth and Penzance

PenzanceExeter/Cardiff
Mark 3 Coach Bristol Temple Meads - GWR Mk3 41146.JPG Passenger coach 125 200 464
GWR HST png.png
Class 255 Diagram.png
Class 57/6 St Philip's Marsh - GWR 57603.JPG Diesel locomotive 95 152 4 Varies[b]
  • Night Riviera LondonPenzance sleeper service
  • Exeter St DavidsPenzance daytime service
Mark 3 Long Rock Sidings - GWR Mk3 RFB 10219.JPG Passenger coach 125 200 18
Class 800

Intercity Express Train

Norton Fitzwarren - GWR 800013 test run from Exeter.JPG Bi-Mode Multiple Unit 140 225 36 5[100][101] London PaddingtonOxford, Worcester, Great Malvern, Hereford, Cardiff,
Swansea, Carmarthen, Bristol, Weston-super-Mare, Taunton[102]
21 9
  1. ^ High Speed Trains are formed with a Class 43 power car at either end. They may run with fewer coaches when required.
  2. ^ Locomotive-hauled Mark 3 coaches are generally formed of 7 or more coaches for the Night Riviera. They are hauled by a single Class 57.

Future fleet

Class Image Type Top speed Number Cars per set Routes
mph km/h
Class 802 AT300[103] 2017-08-19 GWR 802001 Test Unit - Swindon.jpg Bi-Mode Multiple Unit 140 225 22 5 London PaddingtonWorcester, Great Malvern, Hereford, Exeter, Paignton, Plymouth and Penzance,[104][105] from July 2018.[106]
14 9[107]
Class 387/1 Electrostar Maidenhead - GWR 387143 Reading service on platform 1.JPG EMU 110 177 12 4 London PaddingtonHeathrow Terminal 5
GWR Class 387.png
Class 769 Flex 319447 Bedford.jpg Tri-Mode Multiple Unit 19 4 ReadingGatwick Airport
London PaddingtonReading and Oxford[108]

The introduction of the Class 800 and 802 will allow 27 refurbished sets (in 2+4 and 2+5 formation) of the HSTs to be cascaded to ScotRail.[109] The first sets of HSTs went off-lease from GWR at the end of August 2017,[110] and were sent to ScotRail on 1 September 2017. The HSTs' passenger carriages will be refurbished by Wabtec in Doncaster. ScotRail are due to receive 54 HST power cars from GWR, which are planned to be transferred at a rate of 4 per month until November 2018.[111]

The 2 x 3 car 150/0s will also transfer to Northern along with the 150/2s belonging to Angel Trains when the lease expires in April 2019.[112] The Angel Trains 150/2s are those which were previously cascaded to GWR from London Midland and retain their original interiors. The introduction of Class 387s on Thames Valley services since September 2016 has led to the gradual cascade west of most Class 165 and 166s.[113]

Originally, all-electric Class 801 were ordered, but owing to delays in the electrification of the GWML, the Government announced in June 2016 that the 21 units planned for use by Great Western Railway would instead be converted to bi-mode operation,[114] and they were later reclassified as Class 800/3.[115]

In April 2018, GWR announced that they were procuring 19 Tri-Mode Class 769 units from Spring 2019 for use on Reading - Gatwick services, Oxford services, and on mainline suburban services to cover the loss of Class 387 units to the Heathrow Express service.[108]

Past fleet

A former FGW motorail carriage, seen at Penzance.

Locomotive-hauled trains were in use on services between Cardiff, Bristol, Taunton and Paignton from December 2008 until November 2010. These were Class 67 and Class 57 locomotives with Mark 2 coaching stock. They had one set of carriages initially, but a further set of carriages between December 2009 and October 2010. These services ran in the short term to cover for the unavailability of DMU trains. When sufficient DMUs were available following the transfer of 6 Class 150/1 sets from London Overground, the locomotives and coaching stock were withdrawn.[116] First Great Western issued a tender in May 2013 so that locomotive-hauled trains, or other train formations, can be operated on the Taunton-Cardiff route again, starting in December 2013. This would cover for its DMUs while they are off for refurbishment on Monday-Friday diagrams. If locomotive-hauled trains were to be used again, they would start four years after the final trains from the previous diagrams ran.[117]

Twelve Class 142 Pacer DMUs were received by First Great Western in 2007, starting operations that December. These were loaned from Northern (where they had been stored), in part to cover for refurbishment of FGW's Sprinter fleets but also to allow the Class 158s to be reformed as three coach sets. They were based at Exeter TMD, working alongside the similar Class 143s on services in Devon and Cornwall, including the Avocet Line, Riviera Line and Tarka Line. Five 142s were returned to Northern Rail in late 2008, following the completion of the refresh of Class 150 Sprinter units. The remaining seven units were returned to Northern Rail by November 2011 as they had been replaced by Class 150 units cascaded from London Overground and London Midland following the arrival of new Class 172 Turbostar units.

GWR's Night Riviera service also included the UK's last Motorail service, until that aspect was withdrawn at the end of the 2005 summer season due to low usage.

First Great Western previously leased 14 Class 180 Adelante units, operating on the Great Western Main Line, but following technical issues they were transferred elsewhere.[118][119] In 2012, five units were returned to First Great Western to operate weekday services on the Cotswold Line, allowing class 165 and 166 units to be reallocated to increase capacity on Thames Valley services.[69] The Class 180s left GWR during 2017 to join Grand Central.[120] The first left the fleet in June 2017;[121] the last transferred in December that year.

The 150/1s in the GWR fleet transfered to Northern in stages by April 2018.[122] The first three transferred when their lease expired in August 2017.[123]

Livery

HST in original Great Western Trains livery with First Group logo at Reading
A First Great Western Class 150 in the 'Local Lines' livery, worn by former Wessex Trains services

Great Western Trains adopted an ivory and green livery. Following the rebranding as First Great Western, fader vinyls were added to the ivory and a gold bar containing the stylised FirstGroup F and Great Western logos.[124]

The rolling stock used on the Night Riviera sleeper service retained the original green and gold First Great Western livery until the stock forming these services was refurbished in 2007, when they were painted into 'dynamic lines' livery with vinyls advertising that the coaches operated the 'Night Riviera Sleeper'.

When the Class 180 Adelante units were delivered, they were painted in the intercity version of FirstGroup's corporate livery. This consisted of a blue base, with purple and gold bars and large pink Fs. The doors were painted white to comply with the Disability Discrimination Act 1995. The HST fleet was repainted to match as they went through overhaul; however, the livery on the power cars has been altered, following problems with dirt build-up on the large white areas.[]

The new Greater Western franchise involved repainting the HST fleet into FirstGroup's 'Dynamic Lines' livery for intercity and commuter services in the former First Great Western and First Great Western Link areas. The livery was initially applied to the HST fleet as they went through refurbishment, although the Class 180 units did not receive the new livery due to the termination of their lease. The commuter units also received the new livery while receiving standard maintenance, as a refurbishment was not originally planned.[125] A second livery known as 'Local Lines' was applied to the DMU fleet, replacing the 'Dynamic Lines' with the names of local attractions forming a similar outline.[126]

The rebranding of the company as Great Western Railway introduced a new, dark green livery in September 2015, which will be rolled out across the fleet by 2018.[31]

Depots

Seven depots are operated by Great Western Railway for its fleet. Three more will be brought into use as the InterCity Express Train fleet come into service.

Depot Nearest station Allocation Picture Notes
Old Oak Common London Paddington 08, 43 2017 at Old Oak Common - HST shed.JPG Will close in 2018
North Pole London Paddington 800 North Pole Train Maintenance Centre 2015.jpg Agility Trains depot
Reading Reading 08, 165, 166, 387 Reading MMB 23 Reading Traincare Depot.jpg
Stoke Gifford Bristol Parkway 800 Agility Trains depot
St Phillip's Marsh Bristol Temple Meads 08, 43, 150, 158, 166 St Philip's Marsh - towards West Junction.JPG
Exeter Exeter St Davids 143, 150, 153 2017 at Exeter TCD - shed (143603).JPG Depot is being enlarged
Laira Plymouth 08, 43 Laira Depot goings on.jpg
Long Rock Penzance 08, 57,
Night Riviera coaches
2018 at Long Rock TCD - new depot west end (57604).JPG
Landore Swansea 08, 43 2018 at Landore Depot - maintenance shed.JPG To be replaced by new Agility Trains depot
Swansea Maliphant Swansea 800 2018 at Swansea Maliphant depot - from footbridge.JPG Agility Trains depot

TV documentary

Channel 5 broadcast two television series looking into day-to-day challenges of the Great Western mainline, including events at Dawlish (as well as the sea wall destruction), Cheltenham race day and rugby at Cardiff. It was broadcast as "The Railway: First Great Western" and the last series aired in 2015. A similar series based on London Paddington started in September 2017 and covered events such as the reaction to the Manchester and London Bridge attacks, and several days of severe disruption.

See also

References

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External links

Media related to Great Western Railway (First Group) at Wikimedia Commons

Preceded by
InterCity
As part of British Rail
Operator of Great Western franchise
1996-2006
Succeeded by
First Great Western
Greater Western franchise
Preceded by
First Great Western
Great Western franchise
Operator of Greater Western franchise
2006 - present
Incumbent
Preceded by
First Great Western Link
Thames franchise
Preceded by
Wessex Trains
Wessex franchise

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.

Great_Western_Railway_(train_operating_company)
 



 

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