First Great Western Intercity Routes
An intercity First Great Western HST at Hanwell viaduct. First Great Western operate InterCity services to and from London Paddington. These services operate to Cardiff Central via Bristol Parkway with an hourly continuation to Swansea, Bath Spa & Bristol Temple Meads, Exeter & Plymouth, with five trains daily running beyond Plymouth to Penzance in Cornwall, Cheltenham & Gloucester and Worcester/Hereford/Great Malvern.
First Great Western also provides a limited number of intercity services to Paignton, Newquay (summer Saturdays and Sundays only), Carmarthen, Pembroke Dock (summer Saturdays only), Oxford, Worcester, and Hereford.
First Great Western withdrew its services to Fishguard Harbour in 2003. First Great Western operate a number of named passenger trains, including: The Bristolian (London-Bristol), Cathedrals Express (London-Hereford), Cheltenham Spa Express (London-Cheltenham), Cornish Riviera Express (London-Penzance), The Golden Hind (London-Penzance), The Mayflower (London-Plymouth), Night Riviera (London-Penzance "sleeper"), The Red Dragon (London-Swansea), The Royal Duchy (London-Penzance)and The Saint David (London-Swansea). The company operated the last Motorail service, as part of the London Paddington–Penzance Night Riviera overnight sleeper service. This was withdrawn at the end of the summer season in 2005 due to low usage.
First Great Western Commuter Routes
A First Great Western Class 165 in dynamic lines livery, these are used on shorter distance services in the Thames Valley area.First Great Western operate commuter services from London Paddington to destinations such as Slough, Reading, Didcot, Oxford, Newbury, Bedwyn, Hereford, Worcester and Banbury. Train services are also provided from Reading to Basingstoke, Gatwick Airport via Guildford and Dorking Deepdene, Bristol to Newport and Cardiff, and from Oxford to Bicester Town.
First Great Western Local routes
First Great Western run the majority of local trains in the South West.
Local trains run on a range of north-south routes from Cardiff, Gloucester and Worcester in the north to Taunton, Weymouth, Southampton, Portsmouth and Brighton in the south. Many of these services run via Bristol, which acts as the hub of the network. The company also runs the local routes and branch lines in Devon and Cornwall, such as the Newquay and St Ives holiday lines, and the Devon network of branches to Exmouth, Paignton and Barnstaple.
A Wessex Trains Class 158, now operated by First Great Western as part of the local fleet. The Alphaline livery will be repainted over the next two yearsRoutes operated include Great Western Main Line (Cardiff-Bristol-Weston-super-Mare-Exeter-Plymouth-Penzance), South Wales Main Line (Swindon-Bristol-Cardiff), Wessex Main Line (Cardiff-Bristol-Bath-Salisbury-Southampton-Portsmouth or Brighton), Atlantic Coast Line (Par-Newquay), Avocet Line (Exeter-Exmouth), Golden Valley Line (Swindon-Gloucester), Heart of Wessex Line (Westbury-Weymouth), Looe Valley Line (Liskeard-Looe), Maritime Line (Truro-Falmouth), Riviera Line (Exeter-Paignton), Severn Beach Line (Bristol-Avonmouth-Severn Beach), St Ives Bay Line (St. Erth-St. Ives), Tamar Valley Line (Plymouth-Gunnislake), Tarka Line (Exeter-Barnstaple) and Trans Wilts Line (Trowbridge-Westbury).
First Great Westen Train Fleet
Class 43 High Speed Train - First Great Western use their large fleet of 43 HST sets to operate most long-distance services from Paddington to destinations such as Bristol, Cardiff, Swansea, Cheltenham, Oxford, Worcester, Hereford, Plymouth and Penzance. Not all of the fleet is leased, with some sets having been bought outright by First.
Class 57/6 - A small fleet of four Class 57/6 locomotives are used to operate the Night Riviera Sleeper services and provide emergency haulage for failed HST sets. They were painted in First Great Western green and gold livery but are being repainted into the same livery as the Class 43 powercars.
Class 180 Adelante - First Great Western have supplemented the fleet inherited from British Rail with Class 180 Adelante multiple units.The fourteen Class 180 ‘Adelante’ diesel multiple units were built by Alstom and entered service in 2002. They are used for semi-fast services requiring 125 mph operation, supplementing the Thames Turbos. Eventually they will all be replaced with refurbished HSTs on their current duties.
The entire fleet was to be withdrawn by the end of 2007, due to their poor reliability, this was put back 2 months until the late-running HST Refresh programme had been finished. From 2008, units started to go into storage. Units 180101, 180102, 180103, 180105, 180106, 180107, 180110, 180111, 180112, 180113 and 180114 have entered storage at either Oxley or Crofton depots, with the rest to follow in due course.
However, First Great Western are keeping 3 units (1 spare, and a 2x5 car train) until an additional HST comes from East Midlands Trains later in the year. This HST is being cascaded to First Great Western because the Adelantes going to Hull Trains will release a "Pioneer" to go to East Midlands Trains, which will in turn make available the HST for First Great Western. Once this HST arrives, it will be refreshed, and entered into service. The three Adelantes will then be taken out of service.
High Speed Train Fleet
In 2005 First Great Western announced that the High Speed Train fleet was to be re-engined and refurbished. Upgrades included leather seats in First Class, redesigned toilets, a redesigned buffet and at-seat power points. After extensive research, FGW decided to opt for mainly airline seats (passengers liked the privacy, and did not like sitting next to four strangers). This also increased the number of seats per train. The refurbishment began in 2006 with the first set being released in January 2007, the program was completed in February 2008, two months late. The refurbishment was carried out by Bombardier of Derby. A trial took place which involved removing buffet cars from three HST sets that were only used on London–Bristol/Cardiff/Exeter journeys to see if an improved performance was possible. However, several sets without buffets ended up on long distance services. Furthermore, no performance improvements were made. There was also an incident with a trolley and hot water. Therefore, First Great Western have decided to retain all buffet cars. However, while the remaining buffet cars are being refreshed, a static trolley service is being provided Coach A or E - not at seat. After a trial in 2004, the powercars received new MTU engines, fitted by Brush Traction of Loughborough. The programme is now complete as the last power cars to be re-engined were released in April 2008.
Thames Valley Fleet
As part of their Remedial Plan Notice, First Great Western have announced a much more thorough refurbishment of the Thames Turbo fleet than originally planned. The trains will have improved lighting, carpets and toilets, and a revised seating layout. The trains have already been repainted into the dynamic line livery.
West of England Fleet
First Great Western announced that it planned to "refresh" the part of its fleet that operates services between Portsmouth and Cardiff, and also services in the West Country, in an £11m investment programme.
The programme, which is due for completion in Autumn 2008, includes fitting of reupholstered seats, new lighting and floor coverings, CCTV within the passenger saloons and facelifted toilets. At the same time, the exterior of the vehicles are being repainted in the current FGW livery, including artwork depicting various local places of interest.
The refurbishment work is being carried out at a number of locations. Class 158 vehicles are being refurbished at Wabtec in Doncaster, Class 153 vehicles at Wabtec in Eastleigh and Class 143 and 150 vehicles at Pullman Rail's Cardiff Canton facility.
First Great Western History
First Great Western (1998-2006) - In 1998, the bus operator First Group acquired and rebranded Great Western Trains as First Great Western. First Great Western consisted of the express services out of London Paddington to the West of England (Bristol, Exeter, Penzance) and South Wales (Cardiff).
Great Western Trains was formed as part of the privatisation of British Rail. As with all of the original franchises, Great Western was formed as a division of British Rail prior to the franchise being let. The sector consisted of the express services out of London Paddington to the West of England (Bristol, Exeter, Penzance) and South Wales (Cardiff).
First Great Western Link (2004-2006) - First Great Western Link was the former Go-Ahead Group operated Thames Trains franchise which had been operated since April 2004 by First Group. First Great Western Link provided train services from Paddington Station to destinations such as Slough, Reading, Didcot, Oxford, Goring and Streatley, Henley-on-Thames, Newbury, Bedwyn, Hereford, Worcester and Banbury. Train services are also provided from Reading to Gatwick Airport (via Guildford and Dorking), and from Reading to Basingstoke.
The Thames Valley routes were initially privatised in the mid 1990s and sold partly to the managers who had operated the trains under the nationalised British Rail and partly to Go Ahead Group. They later passed the company under the sole control of Go Ahead Group, who operated them as Thames Trains.
Wessex Trains (2001-2006) - Wessex Trains came into being on 14 October 2001 when the former Wales and West and Valley Lines franchises were reorganised. Wales and West Passenger Trains Ltd took on the trading name of Wessex Trains and the operation of services in southwest England. Wessex Trains ran the majority of local trains in the South West. They did not run the high-speed long distance trains.
First Greater Western (Present Day) - On 1 April 2006, First Great Western, First Great Western Link and Wessex Trains combined into the new Greater Western franchise. Three companies — First Group plc, National Express Group PLC, and Stagecoach Group— were short-listed to bid for this new franchise. On 13 December 2005 it was announced that First Group had won the franchise. The new franchise has kept the name First Great Western. Originally, First planned to subdivide its services into the following three categories. However, following feedback from staff and stakeholders, the decision was taken to re-brand and re-livery all services as just 'First Great Western
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