Extra capacity across the network
First Great Western has successfully secured and is investing in 48 additional carriages, which will come into service between February and September 2012.
This investment is in addition to the six carriages for Bristol (creating 900 additional seats) announced in August 2011, and the 30 carriages whose future was secured in the West Country last year.
First Great Western Managing Director Mark Hopwood said:
“We’ve seen an ever increasing demand for travel on our services. While that demand is gratifying in one respect, it can lead to overcrowding on peak services, which is why we’ve been working for some time to secure additional carriages.
"We have worked hard to put together an innovative deal that really maximises the benefit to customers from the rolling stock currently available. This investment - some £29 million - will deliver thousands of extra seats for customers across our network.
“I’m delighted we’ve been able to reach this deal with the Department for Transport, and I thank the Members of Parliament, local authorities and other key partners who supported our efforts.”
How will this affect the network?
Bath and Bristol
The additional vehicles - announced by the Department for Transport late 2011 - will deliver another 924 seats into and out of Bristol across morning and evening peaks, including 336 through Bath.
Five Class 180 Adelante trains will be leased and refreshed to replace most of the Turbo services on the North Cotswolds line between Worcester and London Paddington.
Devon and Cornwall
One of the vehicles will be used to strengthen the Truro to Falmouth line, allowing all services on the line to run as two carriage units. Over the day this will add 2,100 seats, and will double capacity on key services including the 0747 Falmouth-Truro.
The other vehicle will strengthen services between Paignton, Exmouth, Exeter and Barnstaple. This adds 270 seats through the morning and evening peaks, and alleviates the capacity issues affecting school children and commuters on the 1554 and 1655 services from Paignton.
London and the Thames Valley
The new vehicles will mean an extra 4,500 seats will be available for customers into London from the west, including South Wales, Bristol, Swindon, Didcot Parkway and Oxford across the morning and evening peaks - an increase of around 9%.
Two three-car Class 150 trains - six carriages - will also be leased and refreshed to operate weekday commuter services between Reading and Basingstoke, increasing peak capacity by around 13 per cent.
These additional carriages are specifically designed to reduce crowding on the most popular peak services on our network - particularly those into and out of London at peak times, this includes the busiest trains on our network.