30 MARCH 2015
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In spite of much criticism from regular users, and with big promises of improvements, First Group has retained the rail franchise from Paddington to Bristol and onwards as First Great Western, until April 2019.
A major international transport organisation (it operates school buses in the United States) First plans the largest fleet upgrade on the route in a generation, with new or updated trains planned for every area of the network. This will result in additional and service improvements, using faster and more comfortable trains with improved amenities including free wi-fi. Journey times from London to Oxford, Bristol, South Wales, and Devon and Cornwall will reduce.
Key commuter markets including Bristol, Exeter, Oxford and Gatwick Airport will benefit from increased capacity, and there will be 16% more peak time seats into and out of London Paddington station. Services between London and Bristol will increase by 70%. By December 2018 there will be 9,000 additional seats every day across the franchise.
Stations will be upgraded with investment in facilities including security, customer information, accessibility and more car parking and bike storage. During the new franchise period a £2.2m community investment fund will enable station and train service improvements around lower income communities. www.firstgreatwestern.co.uk
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