Thames Valley: Region’s train timetable in biggest shake-up in 40 years

Train services in the Thames Valley will be transformed from December as GWR speeds up its timetable offering faster journey times, more seats and more frequent services.

In the biggest timetable change on the network since 1976, 50% of GWR’s stopping services between Reading and London Paddington will be transferred to MTR Crossrail. GWR will continue to operate services between Reading and London Paddington calling at intermediate station stops, with many extending to Didcot and being formed of 12 carriage Class 387 electric trains in the evening peak where they are needed most.

These will dovetail with MTR Crossrail’s stopping services to provide an improved overall service with significant extra capacity on the Reading to Paddington corridor.

On the popular Reading to Newbury route, passengers will benefit from an increase to three trains an hour, journey time improvements of around five minutes, and a more consistent service throughout the day with up to two fast services an hour running through to London Paddington.

New Intercity Express Trains already operating between Reading and London Paddington will also see journey time improvements; average direct journey times will consistently be 22 mins, compared to between 25 and 30 minutes today.

GWR managing director Mark Hopwood said: “While December may seem a long time away for many, we have been working hard behind the scenes to prepare to implement the biggest timetable change on this network since 1976, enabling us to take advantage of the full benefits that new Intercity Express Trains are bringing.

“In providing more frequent and quicker journeys, our new timetable will for the vast majority of users quite literally mean ‘all change please’ and we are looking forward to publishing further details soon.”

Those travelling between Reading and Basingstoke will be able to take advantage of a third train an hour at peak times, adding approximate 250 more seats at the busiest times.

Mike Gallop, interim route managing director for Network Rail, said: “The timetable change this December will be the biggest since 1976 and will mean faster journeys and more frequent services for passengers.

“It follows unprecedented investment in railway infrastructure including electrification, improved signalling, upgraded stations and much more which together with the introduction of new trains will transform rail travel.”

The planned improvements are so significant, particularly for those who travel regularly and used to catching a particular service every day, that GWR is launching an awareness campaign to highlight the changes ahead, and make sure customers are prepared.

The timetable is expected to come into effect on December 15, and the plans are subject to final industry approval including from Network Rail. It is expected to be published on September 15.