Today, First Great Western have announced that they have signed the agreement with the DfT, which will see Intercity trains introduced on the Penzance to Paddington service.
The new trains will replace the 40-year-old High Speed Trains (HSTs) currently used on the Penzance to Paddington service and will be made up of seven nine-car and 22 five-car units. The five-car units can be coupled together to provide ten car trains.
They will all be bi-modes, able to run as electric trains under the wires as far as Newbury and then on diesel power to Cornwall, and will mean a 24% increase in seats for customers once they are all in service in 2018, creating more than 1,000 additional seats at peak times across the route every day.
As bi-modes, they are future proofed against any further extension of electrification to the South West, as they can operate in electric mode as far as the limit of the electrified network.
They are similar to the new Super Express Trains that will run to Bristol and South Wales, but have been specially modified for Devon and Cornwall and will utilise higher engine operating power to cope with the track gradients and will have larger fuel tanks to operate the longer distances on diesel power through to Penzance.
This and the use of automatic sliding doors, rather than slam doors, will help speed up typical journey times from London by up to 5 minutes (to Exeter), up to 6 minutes (Plymouth) and up to 14 minutes (Penzance).
First has already completed the procurement of the new trains, selecting Hitachi Rail Europe as the supplier. The £360 million fleet will be financed by Eversholt Rail and leased to First Great Western.
Commenting Sarah says: "Today's good news fits really well with the other improvements to the railways in Cornwall which will also be delivered by December 2018 - upgrade of the Night Riviera Sleeper service, expansion of the maintenance depot at Penzance, enhancements to mainline signalling and increased frequency of local train services on the Cornish mainline.
None of this would have been possible without the great teamwork of Nigel Blackler of Cornwall Council working with the Department for Transport and FGW in putting this agreement in place which will result in improvements in reliability, journey times, passenger capacity and comfort, and accessibility."
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