The government may have once again delayed a decision on air capacity in the South East, but new, faster trains are about to come into service between Bristol and London.
Great Western Railway (GWR) today unveiled the first of a fleet of Hitachi-built trains on the day that it celebrates 175 years since the very first train ran on the line between Bristol and London.
The new Hitachi fleet will be part of the "biggest investment on this railway since Brunel, including electrification of the Great Western Main Line," GWR said.
The new trains will be manufactured in Britain and will include (hold your breath): more seats, greater legroom, free WiFi, power sockets at each seat, LCD seat reservation indicators and increased space in overhead luggage racks.
The trains will be introduced into passenger services from next summer on the Great Western Main Line, and from 2018 on services between London and Devon and Cornwall.
Mark Hopwood, GWR managing director, said:
On this special anniversary we are looking not just back at our rich heritage but forward at a transformational investment programme.
The new trains will result in more frequent and faster journeys and an increase in the number of seats. These, and a range of further passenger benefits, will enable communities and businesses across the Great Western network to prosper and we are delighted to invite observers to witness first-hand the step change electrification and our new fleet will bring.
Transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin 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 Intercity Express Programme (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.”