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Claire Mann Worms by First Great Western as Manager Directorin!

Great Western Railway

Franchise(s):Great Western
1998 – 31 March 2006
Greater Western
1 April 2006 – 31 March 2023
Main region(s):London, South East England, South Wales, South West England
Other region(s):West Midlands
Fleet size:12 Class 43

4 Class 57 diesel locomotives
19 Class 150 Sprinter sets
18 Class 158 Express Sprinter sets
36 Class 165 Network Turbo sets

21 Class 166 Network Express Turbo sets
Stations called at:over 270
Passenger km 2007/8:4985.9 million
Route km operated:2129.2
National Rail abbreviation:GW
Parent company:First Group

Great Western Railway (formerly known as First Great Western) is the operating name of First Greater Western Ltd,[1] a British train operating company owned by FirstGroup, that serves Greater London, the South East, South West and West Midlands regions of England, and South Wales.

On 1 April 2006, First Great Western, First Great Western Link and Wessex Trains combined into the new Greater Western Franchise. First was announced as the operator of the combined franchise in December 2005 for a 10-year period.[2]

First Great Western operates high speed services between London Paddington, Cotswolds, South Wales and the West Country, commuter services in London and the Thames Valley and local services in the south west of England. First Great Western operates 210 stations and its services call at over 270.[3]

First Great Western operates a large diesel fleet. High speed services are operated by HST trains (British Rail class 43 Locomotives) with Mk3 coaches. Commuter services in the Thames Valley use Class 165 and Class 166 Turbo trains, while local services in the South West are operated with a variety of 2 and 3 car DMUs. Locomotive hauled trains are in use on services between Cardiff, Bristol, Taunton and Paignton, however this will end soon when the operator receives cascaded 150s from London Overground / London Midland.[4]


First Great Western (1998–2006)[]

Great Western Trains was formed as part of the privatisation of British Rail.[5] 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, Swansea).

The holding company Great Western Holdings, which was part owned by the Badgerline bus group, won the new Great Western franchise.[6] Badgerline later became FirstGroup after a merger with the GRT Group, and in 1998 purchased Great Western Trains outright,[6] rebranding it as First Great Western.[7]

First Great Western consisted of the express services out of London Paddington to the West of England (Bristol, Exeter, Plymouth, Penzance) and South Wales (Cardiff, Swansea).

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.[8]

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.[9]

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. The company was owned by National Express Group. 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 (2006-2016)[]

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.[10] However, following feedback from staff and stakeholders, the decision was taken to re-brand and re-livery all services as just 'First Great Western'.[11]

Great Western Railway (2016-)[]

First Great Western decided to rebrand to Great Western Railway in 2016.


Intercity routes[]

File:Hanwell Wharncliffe Viaduct 205167 3b413d4c.jpg

An intercity First Great Western HST at Hanwell viaduct

Great Western Railway operate InterCity services to and from London Paddington:

  • South Wales:
    • Calling at: Reading, Swindon, Bristol Parkway, Newport, Cardiff Central.
      • Some of these services also call at Didcot Parkway
      • Half of off-peak services and most peak services continue to Bridgend, Port Talbot Parkway, Neath and Swansea.
      • One train per day is extended to Carmarthen calling at Llanelli, Pembrey and Burry Port, Kidwelly and Ferryside.
      • Two trains per day on Summer Saturdays are extended to Pembroke Dock calling at Whitland, Narberth, Kilgetty, Saundersfoot, Tenby, Penally, Manorbier, Lamphey and Pembroke.

Many services, when there are engineering works on the South Wales line, go via this route (the Golden Valley Line) to reach Cardiff and the rest of South Wales. These trains serve Gloucester but not Cheltenham Spa railway station, and lead to the Cheltenham/Swindon local trains to be removed.

Named trains[]

File:FGW at Guildford p8.JPG

A First Great Western Class 165 in dynamic lines livery. These are used on shorter distance services in the Thames Valley area.

Great Western Railway 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), which included the UK's last Motorail service until it was withdrawn at the end of the summer season in 2005 due to low usage. The Red Dragon (London-South Wales), The Capitals United (London-South Wales), The Royal Duchy (London-Penzance)and The Saint David (London-South Wales). The Atlantic Coast Express (London-Newquay) The Torbay Express (London-Paignton)[12]

Commuter routes[]

Great Western Railway operate commuter services from London Paddington to destinations such as Slough, Greenford, Reading, Didcot, Oxford, Newbury, Bedwyn, Hereford, Worcester and Banbury. Train services are also provided from Reading to Basingstoke, and to Gatwick Airport via Guildford and Dorking Deepdene; Bristol to Newport and Cardiff; and from Oxford to Bicester Town.

Trains are 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.

Routes operated include: South Wales Main Line (Cardiff-Bristol-Weston-super-Mare-Taunton), Wessex Main Line (Cardiff-Bristol-Bath-Salisbury-Southampton-Portsmouth), 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).


The first version of the First Great Western livery was a modified version of the Great Western livery, with fader vinyls over the ivory, it also introduced a gold bar containing the First Group "F" and Great Western logos. Initially the "Intercity" branding was retained with the new livery. The power cars carried the First Group Logo.[13]

File:First Great Western Class 158.jpg

A First Great Western Class 158 standing in Bristol Temple Meads railway station pictured in the latest livery in the ex-Wessex Trains franchise area, the local dynamic lines livery made up of names of stations and attractions in the area

When the Class 180 Adelante units were delivered, they were painted in the intercity version of First Group corporate livery. This consisted of a blue base, with purple and gold bars and large pink "F"s. The doors were painted white to comply with the Disability Discrimination Act 1995. The HST fleet was repainted to match as they went through overhaul, however the livery on the power cars has been altered, following problems with dirt build up on the large white areas.[14]

File:Copy 1 of DSC00038.JPG

A First Great Western HST in the dynamic lines livery

The rolling stock used on the Night Riviera sleeper service retained the original green and gold First Great Western livery until the stock forming these services was refurbished in 2007 when they were painted into 'dynamic lines' livery with vinyls advertising that the coaches operated the 'Night Riviera Sleeper'.

The new franchise involved repainting the HST fleet into First Group’s new 'Dynamic Lines' livery for Intercity and Commuter services in the former First Great Western and First Great Western Link areas. The livery initially applied to the HST fleet as they went through refurbishment, although the Class 180 units did not receive the new livery due to the termination of their lease. The commuter units have also been reliveried into the new livery while receiving standard maintenance as a refurbishment was not originally planned.[15] A second livery will be applied to the DMU fleet. This is very similar to the livery used on other services but the 'Dynamic Lines' are replaced by names of local attractions forming the shape of 'Dynamic Lines'. Two Class 150 units were painted into this livery but the repaint for the rest of the fleet was put back until they were refurbished. This Livery is also known as the 'Local Lines' Livery.[16]

Livery gallery[]

Management and operations[]

First Great Western have three major depots: Old Oak Common, two miles from Paddington; Laira in Plymouth; and St Phillips Marsh, near Bristol Temple Meads, with smaller depots at Penzance, Landore and Exeter.

The current Managing Director of First Great Western is Mark Hopwood who replaced Andrew Haines in December 2008[17] (Andrew Haines was technically Chief Operating officer, as he was already First Group UK Rail Director and replaced Alison Forster in September 2007 after criticisms of the way the service was run).[18] Other directors are Andy Mellors (Engineering), Sue Evans (Communications), Matthew Golton (Projects and Planning), Ben Caswell (Finance), Kevin Gale (Operations), and Neil Micklethwaite (Commercial Service and Commercial).

Until recently, the chairman was Charles Howeson who replaced Sir Chay Blyth in November 2007. Mr Howeson is formerly regional chairman of postal watchdog, Postwatch, and has a reputation as a consumer champion.[19] Andrew Haines appointed three route directors under Performance Director, Mark Hopwood to focus the business on the reliability and punctuality of services, they are; Malcolm Drury (West Region), Tom Joyner (High Speed Services) and Ian Smith (East Region). Previous Managing Directors have included Alison Forster Chris Kinchin-Smith, Mike Carroll and Dr Mike Mitchell (now Director General of Railways at the Department for Transport).[20]

In December 2008, Andrew Haines left the business following a short illness. He was succeeded as Managing Director by Mark Hopwood.


After being so for a long time, First Great Western is no longer the worst performing UK rail operator. The rail performance statistics for January to March 2009 show that in terms of Public Performance Measure (PPM), First Great Western achieved 92.7% up 0.7% on the same quarter the year before.[21] The moving annual average (MAA) for the 12 months up to 31 March 2010 was 92.5%, also up on the previous year.

By May 2009, the company had seen an 8 point rise in its performance, which saw it move from the bottom of the industry performance table to the middle – one of the biggest improvements any Train company has made.


First Great Western were named as the worst TOC in a 2007 Passenger Focus survey.[22] However, an Autumn 2008 survey found passengers were more happy with First Great Western than three other TOCs and two other operators were on a par with First Great Western.[23]

First Great western admitted to misreporting the number of cancellations in the period from August to December 2007, with revised figures showing the company to have breached the cancellation threshold in the franchise contract. Specifically the company was alleged to have deliberately cancelled trains on the day prior to service without the prior approval of the Department for Transport, and without recording these cancellations on their performance figures. The company was also accused of falsifying records in order to claim dispensation for large numbers of cancellations.[24]

Not all delays are attributable to First Great Western. In September 2007 the ORR defended its position to allow Network Rail an additional 2 months to fix infrastructure problems before imposing enforcement action and fines due to their performance.[25] The ORR also stated that the First Great Western train service "continues to suffer from very high levels of delays attributed to Network Rail" and had described Network Rail's performance as being "exceptionally disappointing".

Poor performance is nothing new to First Great Western as in 1999 former subsidiary First North Western had performance figures dropping as low as 45% punctuality (90% target) partly due to insufficient rolling stock.[26] That was then followed by lengthy industrial action by First North Western staff in 2000 with very few replacement buses.

The company consulted on a new timetable due to be introduced in December 2006. Campaigners accused the company of cutting evening commuter services, but First Great Western denied this.

In December 2006/January 2007 First Great Western were responsible for a great number of cancellations and delays each day, mainly attributed to shortages in train crew or a lack of serviceable trains, leaving some branch lines with just bus services, and some areas with little service at all.

From 1–10 January 2007 First Great Western removed all trains from the St Ives and Looe branch lines in Cornwall (which normally have a class 153 each in winter), so that they could use them for extending services around Bristol.

  • From 2–5 January, First Great Western decided to shorten some of the local DMU fleet to try and cut down on the amount of cancellations and lack of serviceable trains.
  • On 9 January 2007 First Great Western announced some timetable changes, in response to customer complaints about overcrowding on local trains[27]
File:Fake ticket, Fare Strike Movement.jpg

Fake tickets distributed by protestors on 22 January 2007

  • On 22 January commuters on the Bath-Bristol service staged a protest about overcrowding, issuing participants with imitation tickets printed with "Ticket type: standing only", "Class: cattle truck", "Destination: to hell and back", "Price: up 12%". The company threatened protestors with criminal prosecution and fines of £5,000, but staff failed to enforce ticket requirements.[28]
  • On 24 January, Alison Forster, First Great Western's Managing Director, apologised to its customers about its recent problems.[29] She has also prompted a debate in the House of Commons following the timetable changes.[30]

First Group announced on 6 September 2007, changes to their management structure, apparently designed to strengthen the First Great Western commuter services. Anthony Smith, head of the rail users council, Passenger Focus, commented, "A fresh management approach is welcome. Clearly, looking at the passenger satisfaction scores for First Great Western, the train company and Network Rail have a lot to do. However, passengers will believe it when they see improvements."[31]

In 2004–2005, 79.6% of trains arrived on time (defined as within 10 minutes of their scheduled arrival time).[32] On 22 December 2006, First Great Western InterCity service was declared the worst in Britain for delays, according to figures from the Office of Rail Regulation, with more than one in four trains running late.[33] First was also the only train company to achieve a year-on-year fall in performance results.

At the same time, Network Rail, the Infrastructure provider, has been heavily criticised by the rail regulator (the ORR) for their performance on Great Western Routes, being described as "exceptionally disappointing".[34] In September 2007 they were given a further 2 months to improve performance before enforcement action and fines would be imposed.

In January 2008 another fare strike was held as a passenger group said that not enough improvements have been made, despite First Great Western announcing that 2008 season tickets and car parking charges would be frozen until the end of the year.

In February 2008 the Secretary of State for Transport stated that FGW had “fallen persistently short of customers’ expectations and been unacceptable to both passengers and government”. She issued First Great Western with a Breach Notice for misreporting cancellations and a Remedial Plan Notice as a result of exceptionally high levels of cancellations and low passenger satisfaction. As part of the Remedial Plan Notice First Great Western must achieve improvement milestones and specifically lease five more Class 150 units to allow three car trains to be used on Portsmouth-Cardiff services, undertake a much more extensive refurbishment of the Thames Turbo fleet, offer 50% higher compensation for the duration of the franchise, offer 500,000 more cheap tickets on off-peak services and improve station customer information systems. Failure to do this will result in FGW losing their franchise. First Group’s railway operating profit, meanwhile, was reported to have risen 10% in the six months to September 2007.[35][36]

As of June 2009, FGW has transformed its performance to become one of the UK rail network's more puncutal operators, recording 94.6% of trains arriving at their destination on time.[37]

In February 2010 FGW were named Train Operator of the Year at the national Rail Business awards. Presenting the award, judges said: “The joint efforts of colleagues across the company have seen First Great Western move from bottom of the industry performance league table to seventh place out of more than 19 train operators.”[38]

Rolling stock[]

High speed services[]

Class 43 High Speed Train[]

File:43154 at Paddington 1.jpg

A First Great Western Class 43 powercar

First Great Western use their large fleet of 54 HST sets[39] to operate most long-distance services from Paddington to destinations such as Swindon, 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 power cars. Due to reliability problems, FGW have had to hire 57/3 Virgin trains to operate the Night Riviera. Hired Class 57/3s are also operated on the Taunton-Cardiff route.

Thames Valley[]

Class 165 Thames Turbo[]

The Class 165 "Thames Turbo" is a two or three coach DMU used on shorter distance services in the Thames Valley area such as those from Paddington to Greenford, Reading and Oxford (stopping services). They are also used on the Henley and Windsor branches and services between Reading and Greenford or Gatwick Airport, Newbury to Reading services and the North Downs Linealso the Cotswold Line services when a HST failed.[citation needed] They are based at Reading Traction Maintenance Depot. All Class 165 units have received First Great Western Neon Dynamic Lines livery. Some were still in their First Great Western Link livery after 1½ years in service with the current First Great Western but all are now in First Great Western's dynamic livery.

Class 166 Thames Express Turbo[]

The Class 166 "Thames Express Turbo" is a three coach DMU, which is similar to the Class 165 units but with an internal layout more suited to use on longer distance services. The main way to distinguish a Class 166 unit from a Class 165 unit is that Class 166 units have a First Class section at each end of the train and are usually formed of three coaches. They are used on services from Paddington to Bedwyn and Oxford. The Class 166s can also be found on Reading to Basingstoke, North Downs Line and other routes. They operate services on the Cotswold Line but these are operated by HST trains mostly, Class 166s can operate these services if a HST fails. They are based at Reading Traction Maintenance Depot. All Class 166 units have received First Great Western Neon Dynamic Lines livery.

West of England[]

File:142009 C Exeter St Davids.JPG

Class 142 Pacer No. 142009 at Exeter St Davids

File:142009 Interior.JPG

The refreshed interior of a Class 142 Pacer

Class 142 Pacer[]

First Great Western operate seven Class 142 units on Devon branchlines, with the other five being returned to Northern in December 2008. They started operation in December 2007 as ten Class 158s before being returned to leasing company Angel Trains and have since been leased to First ScotRail (subleased from Northern Rail under DfT orders) and East Midlands Trains. (Four former Central Trains 158s that had been subleased from Northern Rail also under DfT orders had also been returned.)

Throughout 2008, a majority of branch services in Devon were worked by Class 142s, also running from Exmouth to Paignton via Exeter and Newton Abbot.

The Class 142s reappeared on Devon branch services a full twenty years after they were moved away from the region. They originally operated in Devon and Cornwall between 1986 and 1987, and were maintained at Plymouth Laira depot. Their rigid wheelbases made them unsuitable for the Cornish branch lines and from 1987 were sent to the north of England, in exchange for some Class 150 Sprinter units.

File:143617 Exeter St Davids.JPG

Refurbished Class 143 Pacer No. 143617 at Exeter TMD

File:143617 Interior 2.JPG

The refurbished interior of a Class 143 Pacer

Class 143 Pacer[]

First Great Western inherited the small fleet of 8 two-coach Class 143 Pacer railbuses from Wessex Trains following the franchise merger in April 2006. They are currently used on suburban services in Bristol and Exeter. The Class 143 fleet was recently fully refurbished and dressed in the same livery as the rest of the west of England fleet.

Class 150/1 Sprinter[]

First Great Western are to receive up to 15 Class 150/1 DMUs from late 2010/Mid 2011 to replace Class 142 units temporarily brought in to cover for Class 158 DMUs being lost. They will arrive gradually as they are released by London Midland and in pairs from London Overground, when they are replaced by Class 172 DMUs. In addition to this First Great Western have already received two units from Silverlink (150121 & 150127), these DMUs arrived in 2008 and are partly there to cover for the reliability problems of the Class 142s, as well as to increase capacity in the Bristol area's commuter services. All 6 units have now been delivered to First Great Western from London Overground: 150120, 150123, 150128, 150129, 150130 and 150131.

File:150265 Newton Abbot.JPG

Refurbished Class 150/2 No. 150265 at Newton Abbot

File:150233 C Half Internal.JPG

The refurbished interior of a Class 150/2 Sprinter

Class 150/2 Sprinter[]

File:Avonmouth Station 153373 1.JPG

Refurbished Class 153 No. 153373 at Avonmouth

File:153368 C Interior.JPG

The refurbished interior of a Class 153

The fleet of 17 Two coach Class 150 Sprinter units were inherited from Wessex Trains as part of the Greater Western franchise shuffle. The fleet was refurbished by Wessex Trains in 2003 with 2+2 seating arranged in a mixture of 'airline' (face to back) and table seating. The fleet is widespread throughout the former Wessex area and carried a maroon livery with advertising vinyls for South West Tourism. Each unit was sponsored by a district, town or attraction and carries a unique livery. Most received names of attractions, places and branch lines. Two units were repainted into the new First 'Local' livery but all others are receiving the new livery when they are refeshed, the new livery consists of a blue body, with pink doors and 3 lines of place names in First Group corporate colours. As part of a national fleet shuffle eight units went to Arriva Trains Wales on 10 December 2006, and were replaced with 8 Class 158 units. All the Class 150/2 Sprinter fleet is now refurbished.

First Great Western received five extra Class 150/2 units in May 2007 as part of their Remedial Plan Notice, to enable three carriage Class 158 trains to operate on the Portsmouth-Cardiff services.[40] As of March 2008 five Class 150 sets have arrived from Arriva Trains Wales to allow the formation of the hybrid three car Class 158 units.[41]

Class 153 Super Sprinter[]

File:First Great Western refurbished Class 158 No. 158748 at Cardiff Central.JPG

Refurbished Class 158 No. 158748 at Cardiff Central

File:158748 Interior.JPG

The refurbished interior of a Class 158

The Class 153 is a diesel railcar converted from a Class 155 two coach unit in the early 1990s. First Great Western have 12 which are used to strengthen services and on some of the quieter branch lines although stock shortages often see them operate on their own on busier routes. The refurbishment of class 153s was completed in early June 2008 and they all now carry the First Local Lines livery.

Class 158 Express Sprinter[]

The Class 158 is a two or three-coach DMU used on regional express services in the former Wessex Trains area. In February 2008 as part of their Remedial Plan Notice, First Great Western announced they will form some hybrid 3-car Class 158 units in March 2008, made possible by the transfer of five Class 150/2 units from Arriva Trains Wales.[40] There are now ten hybrid units in operation and combined with the non hybrid three car unit this provides 11 three car units to operate services between Portsmouth and Cardiff, Great Malvern and Brighton and Great Malvern and Weymouth. After the introduction of Class 150/1 trains from London Overground and London Midland the remaining 5 2-coach Class 158s will be reformed to provide a further 3 3-coach Class 158s. [42]

Fleet table[]

Class Image Type Top speed Number Routes
mph km/h
Class 43 High Speed Train File:43021 at Paddington A.jpg diesel locomotive 125 200 117[43] All Intercity Routes
Mark 3 Coach File:British Rail Mark 3 at Paddington.jpg Passenger Coach 125 200 464 All Intercity Routes
Class 57/6 File:Loco 57603 at Paddington.JPG diesel locomotive 95 152 4 Night Riviera
Mark 3 Sleeper Coach File:Night Riviera SLEP 10612.jpg Passenger Coach 125 200 50 Night Riviera
Class 142 Pacer File:142009 Digby and Sowton.jpg diesel multiple unit 75 120 7 Former Wessex Trains Services
Class 143 Pacer File:143617 AND 143612 Exeter St Davids.JPG diesel multiple unit 75 120 8 Former Wessex Trains Services
Class 150/1 Sprinter File:150121 at Newport.jpg diesel multiple unit 75 120 7 Former Wessex Trains Services
Class 150/2 Sprinter File:Sea Mills 150233 1.jpg diesel multiple unit 75 120 23[40] Former Wessex Trains Services
Class 153 Super Sprinter File:Fgw 153s at st ives.JPG diesel multiple unit 75 120 12 Former Wessex Trains Services
Class 158 Express Sprinter File:158952 at Newport.jpg diesel multiple unit 90 145 16 Former Wessex Trains Services
Class 165/1 Network Turbo File:165117 at Royal Oak 13-4-07.jpg diesel multiple unit 90 145 36 Former First Great Western Link Services
Class 166 Network Express Turbo File:166217 at Old Oak Common.jpg diesel multiple unit 90 145 21 Former First Great Western Link Services

Future fleet[]

On 26 November 2008 it was confirmed that First Great Western would receive 52 extra new build carriages for use around Bristol.[44] The invitation to tender was issued by the DfT in December 2008. The shortlisted bidders are Bombardier, Hyundai Rotem, CAF and CSR Nanjing[45]. Like the IEP programme this order was to have been placed by the DfT with standard stock allocated to multiple TOCs. However, in August 2009, following the announcement that the Great Western Main Line would be electrified, the 202 vehicle DMU order to be run by Diesel Trains Ltd was cancelled, with the proposed strengthening of local services to come via cascades of existing DMUs once the electrification process is complete. This will see refurbished Class 319s cascaded from the Thameslink route to local services from London Paddington, with the Class 165s and 166s moving to local routes in the south-west.[46]

First Great Western are also to participate in the Intercity Express Programme and are due to receive Hitachi Super Express trains shortly after the East Coast Route.

Past fleet[]

First Great Western used to lease 14 Class 180 'Adelante' units, however most have been handed back to Angel Trains between 2008–2009. The final three units went off-lease on 27 March 2009, but could make a return in late 2010 due to the cancellation of East Coast's Lincoln services which would have required the use of 5 Class 180's.


File:Class 165 First Great Western Diagram.PNG

Fleet refurbishment[]

High Speed Train fleet[]

File:First Great Western Refreshed HST A3 TS 42178 Interior 1.JPG

The interior of refurbished Standard Class

File:First Great Western Refreshed HST B2 TF 41052 Interior.JPG

The interior of refurbished First Class

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, thus obtaining more revenue-earning seats per train. The refurbishment began in 2006 with the first set being released in January 2007, the programme was completed in February 2008, two months late. The refurbishment was carried out by Bombardier at both Derby & Ilford.

Also the 57/6 had bad reliability hits and where using Virgin Trains 57/3 but the 57/6 are now getting a refurbishment in to the blue (HST) livery and repairs.

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. several sets without buffets ended up on long distance services. Furthermore, no performance improvements were made. One of Andrew Haines' first decisions when he joined First Great Western was to scrap this plan.

The December 2007 timetable saw High Speed Trains introduced on shorter routes where they had never previously been used, to help boost the capacity. This introduced buffet cars to parts of the network that had never previously had them.

In June 2008, after extensive trials, it decided that all its High Speed Trains would have a buffet car, but that they would be of a smaller design, incorporating more standard class seating space. Full size buffet cars weree removed from the high frequency / shorter journey sets, replaced with a Mini Buffet, converted from both ex-loco hauled Mk3 TSO's and several refurbished Mk3 TS's, with the removal of one Toilet & Galley Area / Stores, along with 4 rows of seating, to create a buffet counter capable of serving FGW's Express Cafe Menu. FGW's Mini/Micro Buffets are now classed as TSMB (Trailer Standard Micro Buffet).

After a successful trial by Angel Trains & FGW in 2004, two power cars received new MTU engines while two received new MAN VP185's, fitted by Brush Traction of Loughborough. The MTU Engine came out as the better option, both for reliability but also emissions, resulting in FGW, Brush & Angel Trains to start the HST Modernisation programme. As of 2010, The FGW Programme is now complete as the last power cars to be re-engineered were released in April 2008, While East Coast, AXC, Network Rail & Grand Centrals are all undergoing or have undergone a similar programme and are also complete.[47]

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.[40] The trains will have improved lighting, carpets, toilets and a revised seating layout.[48] The trains have already been repainted into the dynamic lines livery.

West of England fleet[]

File:150233 Bristol Temple Meads.JPG

Class 150/2 No. 150233 at Bristol Temple Meads

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.[49]

The programme, which has now been completed, included 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 were repainted in the current FGW livery, including artwork depicting various local places of interest.

The refurbishment work was carried out at a number of locations. Class 158 vehicles were refurbished at Wabtec in Doncaster and fitted with a third additional carriage to supplement passenger capacity, Class 153 vehicles at Wabtec in Eastleigh and Class 150 vehicles at Pullman Rail's Cardiff Canton facility. The Class 143 vehicles were originally going to be refurbished at Pullman Rail but the contract was terminated and they were instead refurbished by Wabtec in Eastleigh.[50]

See also[]



  1. First Great Western – Copyright. Retrieved on 2006-07-15.
  2. Template:Cite news
  3. First Great Western-Stations. First Great Western (2006-04-01).
  4. Taunton Trains News/ Info. Taunton Trains (2009-01-03).
  5. Who Runs Our Railways?. Friends of the Earth. Retrieved on 2008-07-24.
  6. 6.0 6.1 Buses Magazine, Issue 648, March 2009, Ian Allen Publishing
  7. First Group. UK Business Park (2008). Retrieved on 2008-07-24.
  8. Template:Cite press release
  9. Template:Cite press release
  10. Statement Re: Award of The Greater Western & Thameslink/Great Northern Franchises. FirstGroup plc (2005-12-13). Archived from the original on 2007-12-20. Retrieved on 2007-09-25.
  11. Page from the franchise site using "First Great Western" as name.
  12. First Great Western – rail saver
  13. 43132 in First Great Western green, with coaches. Retrieved on 2006-10-09.
  14. Original First Barbie – Revised First Barbie – Final version of First Barbie – retrieved 8/9/2006
  15. The first unit to be reliveried 166220 (2006-10-04). Retrieved on 2006-10-10.
  16. 150249 Heads North Up Dawlish Warren Passing Langstone Rock (2007-08-11). Retrieved on 2007-09-25.
  18. Template:Cite news
  19. Template:Cite news[dead link]
  20. First Great Western Company Details. First Great Western (2007-09-18).
  21. National Rail Trends Chapter 2. ORR.
  22. Passenger Focus (January 2008). National Passenger Survey Autumn 2007 (PDF). Retrieved on 2010-08-09.
  24. Template:Cite news
  25. Template:Cite news
  26. Mid Cheshire Rail Users Association – Response to Draft North West Rail Utilisation Strategy (PDF). Network Rail. Retrieved on 2008-07-24.
  27. First Great Western announces timetable changes. First Great Western (2007-01-09).
  28. Template:Cite news
  29. Statement from Alison Forster, Managing Director of First Great Western. First Great Western (2007-01-24). Retrieved on 2007-09-25.
  30. House of Commons Hansard Debates for 24 January 2007. House of Commons (2007-01-24).
  31. Template:Cite news
  32. Posters displayed at stations as required by Passenger Charter
  33. Clark, Rhodri (2006-12-22). First Great Western's InterCity service the worst in UK with more than one in four trains late. National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers.
  34. "Good Point!" "Thank you, I Raised it Myself". Peace Bunny Perspective (2008-01-12). Retrieved on 2008-07-24.[dead link]
  35. Improving Performance on First Great Western. Department for Transport (2008-02-26). Archived from the original on June 4, 2008. Retrieved on 2008-03-26. Official release on contents of First Great Western's Remedial Plan Notice. See also The Scotsman, 27 February 2008, p 38
  36. First Great Wetsern Franchise. Ruth Kelly (2008-02-26). Retrieved on 2008-03-26.[dead link] Reasons as to issue of First Great Western's Remedial Plan Notice
  37. Rail punctuality reaches record high. Network Rail (2009-06-22). Retrieved on 2009-06-24.[dead link]
  38. First Great Western named best train operator. First Great Western. Retrieved on 1 March 2010.
  39. First Great Western – High Speed Trains. First Great Western. Retrieved on 2006-07-18.
  40. 40.0 40.1 40.2 40.3 Chief Operating Officer Statement. First Great Western (2008-02-26). Retrieved on 2008-03-26. Report on First Great Western's Remedial Plan Notice
  41. Arriva 150229 on Hire to FGW. Jim's Photo Gallery (2008-03-14). Retrieved on 2008-03-22. An image of Arriva Trains Wales 150229 on hire to First Great Western
  42. Class 158 Reformations, Customer Panel Meeting Minutes. First Great Western (2010-05-19). Retrieved on 2010-11-09.
  43. HST Power Car – Fleet List (PDF). 125 Group (2007-09-01). Archived from the original on 2006-07-20.
  44. Bristol's First Great Western set to get 52 extra carriages – This is Bristol, 25/11/08
  45. DFT announcement of the Tender[dead link]
  46. Britain's Transport Infrastructure: Rail Electrification. Department for Transport (July 2009).
  47. MTU / HST Power Car Re-engineering Program. wnxx. Retrieved on 2008-07-24.
  48. London & Thames Valley Refresh. First Great Western (2008). Retrieved on 2008-07-24.
  49. West Fleet Refresh. First Great Western. Retrieved on 2008-07-24.
  50. Preview of the first refurbished Class 158. (2007-09-26). Retrieved on 2007-10-06.

External links[]


Preceded by
Great Western Trains
Operator of Great Western franchise
Succeeded by
First Great Western
Greater Western franchise
Preceded by
First Great Western
Great Western franchise
Operator of Greater Western franchise
2006 – present
Preceded by
First Great Western Link
Thames franchise
Preceded by
Wessex Trains
Wessex franchise

Template:Transport in Cardiff

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