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FGW fights overcrowding with first class conversion contract

Overcrowding on First Great Western (FGW) trains could soon be eased after the operator secured an agreement with the DfTto increase standard class capacity on all its HSTs, by converting some first class carriages.

The deal will create around 3,000 more standard class seats a day for customers across the network and deliver nearly 16% more standard class accommodation on high speed services into London in the busy morning peak.

Mark Hopwood, FGW’s managing director, added that “ultimately, the only long-term solution to busy services is more trains”.

The new IEP stock does not start coming into service on the Great Western Main Line until December 2017.

“Therefore, the conversion of these carriages to create more standard class seating is ‘crucial’ in the interim period,” Hopwood said.

The first completed carriages are expected to be running by June 2014, with the entire fleet completed by late summer 2015.The programme to provide additional standard class seats is being funded by the DfT, while the changes to first class accommodation are being funded by FGW.

The conversion work will be carried out by Wabtec at Kilmarnock.

In addition to the standard class re-seating, work will be undertaken to refresh the remaining first class accommodation, 1.5 carriages per train, recognising the importance of this to commuter, business and leisure customers.

FGW said this activity will include realignment of single seats, installation of privacy screens, more comfortable headrests, re-covered seats, new carpets and other changes designed to improve the experience for first class customers.

Speaking to media, transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin added that for too long the south west has been left behind when it comes to investment.

“There are few things more annoying than walking past first class carriage with spare seats only to find there aren’t any in standard. People have the right to be able sit down, particularly on long journeys,” he added.

(Image copyright: Kevin R Boyd)

Tell us what you think – have your say below or email [email protected]


Mark In Yorkshire   14/03/2014 at 12:07

Whilst I concur with Mr McLoughlin's statement, I think he may find that the National Conditions of Carriage and the way that the DfT calculates how it can afford additional capacity does not entitle any passenger to a seat unless their ticket is accompanied with a specific seat reservation (on Operators' services that provide this facility).

Jak Jaye   14/03/2014 at 16:27

What a cop out by FGW and they have managed to con the DFT into extending their cash cow franchise too,unbelievable Here's a tip pop along to Great Marston and other railway storage sites think you may find some nice MK111 coaches looking for work

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