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Train journey times to London cut by six minutes
NEW intercity express trains are expected to cut journey times by six minutes between Oxford and London Paddington.
The news was welcomed by commuters yesterday as the Government announced a £4.5bn contract for the new trains, helping to create 900 jobs.
As part of the deal, Agility Trains, a consortium led by Japanese company Hitachi, will build 92 trains at a new factory in County Durham.
The first trains will be seen from 2017 on Great Western main line services between London, Oxford and the Cotswolds, as well as between Didcot, Bristol, Cardiff and Swansea.
As well as offering a six-minute saving on journeys between Oxford and the capital, the new trains – which replace the iconic Inter City 125s – will offer journey time savings of 15 minutes for Swansea to London journeys, and 21 minutes for Bristol to London.
Department for Transport spokesman Paul Starbrook said: “The new trains have a comparable speed to the 125s but are lighter and have faster acceleration, so they can reach top speed a lot quicker. The further you go, the bigger time saving you can get.”
Cotswold Line Promotion Group chairman John Ellis said: “Oxford to London journeys take 55 to 60 minutes depending on whether trains stop at Slough.
“A six-minute journey time reduction is very positive but we had hoped the reduction would be even greater.”
Chief executive of rail watchdog Passenger Focus Anthony Smith added: “The new trains should also mean more seating.”
First Great Western ’s managing director Mark Hopwood said: “This is an essential piece of the jigsaw in improving passenger journeys across our network.
“These trains will give passengers a faster and more comfortable journey experience when travelling on the Great Western main line between London and destinations including Oxford, Newbury, Bristol, Cardiff and Swansea.
“The new trains under the Intercity Express Programme (IEP) will replace many of our iconic High Speed Trains that revolutionised rail travel in the 1970s with their 125mph top speed.”
The fleet for the Great Western route will be a combination of all-electric and bi-mode trains.
The bi-mode trains will be able to use overhead electric power between Oxford and London.
But on routes which will not be electrified, including the Cotswold Line, between Oxford and Worcester, they will switch to under-floor diesel engines.
On Great Western routes there will be 21 nine-coach all-electric trains and 36 five-coach bi-mode trains.
A total of 730 jobs will be created at Newton Aycliffe, with a further 200 created during construction of the factory, where Hitachi will assemble the fleet.
The new trains will have more seats and space than existing high-speed trains, but the interior design has not been finalised.
The announcement follows last week’s news of further electrification on the Great Western line between London and Swansea.
Last week, five extra 125mph Class 180 Adelante trains were brought back into service between London and Oxford and on the Cotswold Line after a three-year break.