Mon, 31 Dec 2018
FROM Wednesday, there will be extra seats for rail commuters travelling from Newbury.
More than 10,000 train seats will be available to passengers from January 2 compared to last year, following Great Western Railway(GWR) taking delivery of its final Class 800 Inter City Express Train (IET) from manufacturer Hitachi.
Replacing 40-year-old High Speed Trains, the IETs have up to 24 per cent more seats a train and, prior to timetable changes due next year, are already providing 10,000 more seats every day.
Passengers travelling through the district faced 'rail blockades' throughout the year while Network Rail electrified the line from Newbury to Theale in order for the new trains to run.
The electrification has enabled new Electrostar, suburban commuter trains to run to the town for the first time having been rolled out across London and the Thames Valley during late 2017 and 2018.
GWR Managing Director Mark Hopwood said: “The new Intercity Express Trains have already helped us increase seats on the journeys they operate by almost a quarter, and in the past three months are proving 20 per more more reliable than the older trains they are replacing. And they’ve helped deliver some of the best on-train satisfaction scores for some time – including improvements in seat comfort and on-board information.
“From the New Year, thanks to the progression of Network Rail’s electrification programme, we will also be able to run electric trains to Newbury for the first time. We promised to deliver the biggest fleet upgrade in a generation during the course of this franchise, and I am delighted to be able to mark a major milestone in achieving this.”
Network Rail Western Route managing director Mark Langman said: “Passengers from London to the west and south west are now seeing the huge benefits of the biggest modernisation of the railway since it was built following years of upgrades and unprecedented investment.
“We have worked closely with GWR as the railway has been transformed in all regions that we cover. Passengers are now benefiting from thousands of extra seats, more frequent services and better journeys on new trains from Cornwall through to London and in all the communities we serve in-between.
“In 2019 the transformation will continue including in January where electric services will start at Bristol Parkway and Newbury for the first time.”
The Class 387 Electrostar trains enabled GWR to provide a 10 per cent increase in capacity into and out of London Paddington in the morning peak in January 2018, and will add 20 per more more seats for customers travelling from Newbury.
However, the rollout of bi-mode IETs on services between Newbury and Great Bedwyn, set to roll out in January, has been delayed because CCTV needs to be installed on them.