GWR Electrostar fleet enters service after electrification completed

A new fleet of Electrostar trains has entered service today on the Great Western Main Line following the completion of electrification work between London Paddington and Didcot.

GWR, which operates services on the line, says the new fleet will offer 8,000 extra seats across its network, including a 10% increase in the busiest times in the morning compared to January 2017.

In London and Thames Valley, the majority of the operator’s current 25-year-old fleet will be replaced by the 45 new Electrostars – running predominately in eight- and 12-car formations.

The new fleet, and the capacity boost it brings, will be the latest move to improve services across GWR’s network after the company began running its new Class 800 Intercity Express trains in October last year following an initially difficult launch.

Services covering Bristol, Gloucester, Cardiff and Taunton will also see more modern trains introduced, providing up to double the number of seats per train. This means GWR will boast 3,000 extra seats for commuters in the morning peak through Bristol Temple Meads introduced since the same time last year.

“The 2 January marks a massive step towards delivering the capacity improvements we have promised, and the most significant series of improvements for rail passengers in a generation,” commented Mark Hopwood, GWR’s managing director.

“Electric trains will run under the wires between Didcot and London for the first time, delivering real improvements for our passengers in London and the Thames Valley and enabling us to make further improvements throughout our network, supporting the communities we serve.

“Let me also take this opportunity to thank our passengers in advance for their patience during the Christmas period, as Network Rail continue Crossrail works, and its programme to modernise the Great Western.”

JackBoskett GWRLondonPaddington02092016-2956

New Intercity Express Trains will also reach Great Malvern, Worcester and Oxford for the first time, and more journeys will be operated by the new trains on routes between London and South Wales, Bristol, and Taunton.

Network Rail western route managing director Mark Langman argued the changes represented a “major step forward in the biggest ever transformation on the Great Western Main Line.”

“This will boost local communities and provide a better service for passengers travelling in Didcot, Reading, across the Thames Valley and west London,” he explained.

“It has been a real team effort as Network Rail and GWR staff worked tirelessly to get to this stage. It is an example of track and train working together for the benefit of the passenger and really does herald an exciting time on the railway.”

Electrostars have been produced in the UK and operated across the national network since 1999, but the trains recently ended production, with the last-ever batch produced at Bombardier’s Derby Litchurch Lane facility.

Top image: GWR

Have you got a story to tell? Would you like to become an RTM columnist? If so, click here


Lutz   02/01/2018 at 18:47

So lots of publicity for the shiny new projects, but the fundamental problem is that Network Rail does not know how to run the railway.

Huguenot   02/01/2018 at 21:02

Well it is a milestone, but the Electrostars have been running out of Paddington for a while, first to Hayes & Harlington and then to Maidenhead, so it's not really true to say that "the GWR Electrostar fleet enters service" as though this is their first appearance. However, GWR is lucky to have them as it is a good train: Great Northern has lost many of theirs and Thameslink all of theirs, with rubbish Class 700s replacing them.

Andrew Gwilt   03/01/2018 at 03:05

Most of the Class 387's have now replaced the Class 165's and the Class 165's have been transferred to Devon and Bristol to operate on the local lines. Plus the 6 Class 387/3's that are currently with c2c (on hire) will be transferred to GWR when the new c2c Aventra trains (hence no classification) will be manufactured by Bombardier and are to enter service in 2021. Which could mean that GWR will have 51 Class 387's in total and to re-classify the 45 Class 387/1's to Class 387/3's. I do like the GWR Class 387's.

Ian Hibbard   03/01/2018 at 11:45

No mention by GWR of any improvements to the Cardiff - Portsmouth service via Bristol Temple Meads currently supported by ageing and often over-crowded 158/153/150’s. Are we likely to see any in the near future?

Andrew JG   03/01/2018 at 21:10

As the Class 387's are now serving stopping services between London Paddington-Slough, Maidenhead, Reading and Didcot Parkway to replace most of the Class 165's and Class 166's destined for transfer to operate across Devon, Cornwall and the Bristol area. GWR will still keep some of the Class 165's that will still operate on the Thames Valley branch lines such as the Slough-Windsor & Eton Central, Maidenhead-Bourne End-Marlow and Twyford-Henley-on-Thames branch lines.

Mark Hare   04/01/2018 at 11:05

So Andrew you're reminding us that the Class 387 Electrostar EMUs can't run on branch lines that are not electrified and that Class 165s will need to be retained by GWR to work those services? Thanks for letting us know.

Thames Valley Traveller   04/01/2018 at 11:33

Well, Mark Hopwood has delivered his promise to upgrade Thames Valley Services, faster trains. BUT yet again Network Rail have let him down, lack of or continuing power supply issues as happened when 387s started from Maidenhead. Massive cuts, cancellations 4 ilo 8 cars, Twyford rush hour passengers having to stand, connections for Henley branch being missed due to late trains and too tight connections for people to cross from plat 3 or 1 to plat 5. Add to that a massive rise in defective units. Notice the number of IETs running on diesel rather than overhead. Come on Network Rail - get your house in order. Network rail have ruined the Thames valley with over-engineered heavy overhead, if French and German high speed trains can run with lighter gantries, then so can Thames Valley. Finally, platforms are being lengthened - but access for anyone other than young and athletic its the high jump to get into trains - with disabled persons regs they ought to have made the platform level to match train entry, removing trip hazard, and also reducing boarding delays. No gold stars here for Network Rail

Andrew JG   04/01/2018 at 12:05

GWR will keep some of the Class 165’s on the TV branch lines. You’ll never know if GWR might order new trains such as the Class 230’s D-Trains to replace the Class 165’s to operate on the Slough-Windsor & Eton Central, Maidenhead-Marlow and Twyford-Henley-on-Thames services. And to transfer the remaining Class 165’s to Devon & Bristol.

Matt   04/01/2018 at 12:22

Strangely, the class 800s are still running on diesel power on the electrified section to Reading.

Thames Valley Traveller   04/01/2018 at 13:07

The GWR e-mail system has just reported in the last few minutes: 1257 Train hitting obstruction on the line between TWYFORD and Paddington; 1253 Faulty signals, same section, 1309,1709,1925 TWY to Paddington 4 cars in lieu of 8. Poor old GWR! Crazy world. D hybrid may help on branches

Simon Eames1990   04/01/2018 at 23:05

They should introduce a Class 387 service to Swindon as the their max speed is 110 mph and use the 387s on the fast lines to Newbury when electrification is complete. Oxford last and better get a move on.

Steveb   05/01/2018 at 20:34

I travelled on an Electrostar from Didcot to Reading, and was imoressed with the 2+2 seating which seemed more comfortable and attractive than on the IETs. However, at every imtermediate station I was alerted to the fact that short platforms meant that passengers in Coach 8 should move forwards. Since I was in Coach 2, did I really need to hear that message? We have selective door opening; how about selective coach announcements?

Icn   06/01/2018 at 15:02

The 165s & 166s Turbostars are not going to Devon & Cornwall.

Leon Whitfield   17/01/2018 at 12:07

Why dont they eletricfed all the way to Birmingham be fantastic

Foaming Stoat   19/01/2018 at 12:32

I'm not sure that even were GWR to order some Class 230s for the Thames Valley branches, they could or would claim these old tube trains as 'new' except to that stretch of railway.

Matthew Read   22/01/2018 at 10:54

I think the 230's would be better in Devon and Cornwall they would provide more capacity especially between Paginton, Exeter and Exmouth.

John   07/02/2018 at 18:59

Electrostars? Is this all they can come up with? Three steps forward, two steps back.

Add your comment

rail technology magazine tv

more videos >

latest rail news

HS2 Ltd: Five tech firms join Innovation Accelerator initiative

11/09/2020HS2 Ltd: Five tech firms join Innovation Accelerator initiative

HS2 Ltd have announced today (11 Sept) the first five revolutionary tech firms that will join HS2 Ltd’s Innovation Accelerator programme. ... more >
Network Rail publish Decarbonisation Plan

11/09/2020Network Rail publish Decarbonisation Plan

Network Rail have released their interim Traction Decarbonisation Network Strategy, illustrating its preliminary recommendations for decarbonisin... more >
Trains kept moving by AWC despite damaged overhead wires

11/09/2020Trains kept moving by AWC despite damaged overhead wires

Avanti West Coast have taken an unlikely option to allow their timetable to run, without delays, despite damaged overhead wires. The operato... more >

last word

Encouraging youngsters to be safe on the railway

Encouraging youngsters to be safe on the railway

This summer, Arriva Group's CrossCountry and the Scout Association joined to launch a new partnership to promote rail safety among young people. Chris Leech MBE, business community manager at the... more > more last word articles >

'the sleepers' daily blog

On the right track, Sulzer is awarded RISAS accreditation for Nottingham Service Centre

29/06/2020On the right track, Sulzer is awarded RISAS accreditation for Nottingham Service Centre

Following an independent audit, Sulzer’s Nottingham Service Centre has been accepted as part of the rail industry supplier approval scheme (RISAS). The accreditation reinforces the high-quality standards that are maintained by Sulzer’s network of independent repair facilities across the UK and further afield in its global network. ... more >
read more blog posts from 'the sleeper' >


The challenge of completing Crossrail

05/07/2019The challenge of completing Crossrail

With a new plan now in place to deliver Crossrail, Hedley Ayres, National Audit Office manager, major projects and programmes, takes a look at ho... more >
Preparing the industry to deliver trains for the future

04/07/2019Preparing the industry to deliver trains for the future

The move to decarbonise the rail network involves shifting to cleaner modes of traction by 2050. David Clarke, technical director at the Railway ... more >
Sunshine future beckons for South Wales Railways, says 10:10 Climate Action’s Leo Murray

02/07/2019Sunshine future beckons for South Wales Railways, says 10:10 Climate Action’s Leo Murray

Smart electrification is the way to boost clean energy resources, argues Leo Murray, director at 10:10 Climate Action. Contractors are clear... more >
Ambition doesn’t have to be expensive, says Midland Connect's Maria Machancoses

02/07/2019Ambition doesn’t have to be expensive, says Midland Connect's Maria Machancoses

The TCR Midlands conference is only days away and tickets are going fast for the sector event of the year at the Vox Conference Centre in Birming... more >

rail industry focus

View all News


Andrew Haines, CE of Network Rail, tells BBC News his organisation could issue future rail franchises

24/06/2019Andrew Haines, CE of Network Rail, tells BBC News his organisation could issue future rail franchises

Andrew Haines, the Chief Executive of Network Rail, has told the Today programme on Radio 4's BBC’s flagship news programme that he wo... more >