Press Releases

HISTORIC PRESS RELEASE : Final Plan to Improve Western Rail Services published [June 2005]

The press release issued by the Strategic Rail Authority on 24 June 2005.

The final Great Western Main Line Route Utilisation Strategy was published today by the Strategic Rail Authority (SRA). Its aims are to reduce overcrowding and improve service patterns for passengers by making better use of existing tracks and trains on the route, to drive improved punctuality and reliability.

The Strategy, which covers the Thames Valley, the Cotswolds, South Wales and the West Country for the period up to 2012, is capable of delivering:

  • Over 800 more seats for peak-time Thames Valley commuters into London Paddington station – another 4% capacity increase over and above that introduced in December 2004;
  • Improved local and regional services across the wider Bristol, Cardiff and South West areas, including additional peak seating capacity, more regular pattern timetables and greater cross-Bristol journey opportunities;
  • Additional high-speed, high-capacity rolling stock should be allocated to Paddington services, ensuring that all Main Line trains are operated with 125mph-capable stock.

Many of the changes could be introduced with the start of the new Greater Western rail franchise in April 2006. The proposals build on the improvements already introduced in December 2004 through the ‘wider benefits’ timetable, agreed between the SRA and First Group as a result of the new First Great Western Link (Thames Trains) franchise.

Jim Steer, Managing Director for Strategic Planning at the SRA, said:

“Today’s Utilisation Strategy has the potential to deliver marked improvements in performance and level of service. The Greater Western franchise specification, issued to bidders earlier this month, builds on the RUS and has the common objective of making best possible use of available capacity and matching services to demand.”

In order to deliver the Strategy’s benefits there will need to be a small reduction in the overall number of trains between Bristol and Penzance (eliminating duplication and introducing a more even-interval timetable).

Following stakeholder feedback there have been important changes from the consultation version of the RUS, issued in January 2005: This includes the fact that Greenford Line services will no longer be reduced in favour of additional services to Slough.