Great Western Railway unveiled the first of its new GWR Hitachi fleet on 30 June 2016 at an event attended by UK Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin. A one-off service was put on to commemorate 175 years since the opening of the Great Western Main Line. Special visitors at the event included local stakeholders. They journeyed from Reading to London Paddington to celebrate the unveiling and special anniversary.
The train, a Hitachi Class 800 train designed especially for Great Western Railway, is part of the government’s InterCity Express Programme (IEP). The programme is worth an estimated £5.7 billion, and will create 700 direct jobs and thousands of support jobs as part of its supply chain.
The trains will be made in the UK, and will deliver greater capacity with more seats, more legroom, free passenger wifi, power sockets for each seat. LCD seat reservation indicator screens and more room in overhead luggage storage spaces.
The fleet is part of the largest investment on the Great Western Main Line since Isambard Kingdom Brunel’s era. Part of the programme of works includes electrification of the line. The trains are currently undergoing test runs, and will be begin operating passenger services from summer 2017 on the Great Western Main Line. The fleet will be a total of 57 trains, and will run on London and Reading, Oxford, Swindon, Bath, Bristol and South Wales as well as north and south Cotswold lines.
Patrick McLoughlin, UK Transport Secretary, said:
“Britain’s railways have a glorious past and even brighter future thanks to the record amounts we are investing to modernise the network, deliver better journeys for passengers and drive economic growth.
“The unveiling of Great Western Railway’s first state-of-the-art IEP train offers a glimpse of the benefits passengers in the south-west and Wales will enjoy from 2017. These include more seats, greater comfort, better reliability and faster, more frequent services.”
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