First Great Western

First Great Western Ltd. is a British railway company owned by the First Group and operates railway lines from London to the West of England, and Wales; Main route is the Great Western Main Line.

The company was founded in 1996 as part of the gradual privatization of British Rail. The concession did not go to an already existing private railway company but was acquired by a management buy- outs. The company was named the Great Western Trains. The name derives from the Great Western Railway, one of the four major private railway companies of Great Britain was until nationalization in 1948 and served a similar, but slightly larger area.

1998 Great Western Trains was acquired by the bus company FirstGroup and received its present name. On 1 April 2006 towards the concessions by First Great Western, First Great Western Link and Wessex Trains were merged and re-tendered. In addition to the FirstGroup also the National Express Group and Stagecoach Group competed. In December 2005, First Group was awarded the contract for a further ten years.

Route network

First Great Western operates intercity trains running from London Paddington Station to Cardiff and Swansea, Bristol, Exeter, Plymouth and Penzance, as well as to Cheltenham and Gloucester. Other important railway stations are Reading ( here keep all intercity trains by First Great Western ), Didcot, Swindon, Newport, Westbury and Taunton. First Great Western also operates some InterCity trains to Oxford, Worcester and Hereford, weekends also to Paignton and Newquay.

Suburban and regional transport

From London Paddington Station provides regular First Great Western suburban trains to Slough, Maidenhead, Reading, Didcot, Oxford, Newbury, Bedwyn, Hereford, Worcester and Banbury. From Reading operate local trains to Basingstoke as well as Guildford and Dorking to Gatwick Airport.

Before 1 April 2006, the concession for the suburban traffic was separated from the concession for intercity traffic. Originally there was this under the brand name Thames Trains owned by the GoAhead Group. The First Group took over the concession in March 2004 and operated the routes by the end of March 2006 under the name First Great Western Link.

First Great Western is also responsible for almost all the regional transport in the region South West England.


Main routes

  • Great Western Main Line ( London - Bristol - Exeter - Plymouth - Penzance )
  • South Wales Main Line (Bristol - Cardiff - Swansea - West Wales)
  • Wessex Main Line (Bristol - Bath - Salisbury - Southampton )
  • West Coastway Line ( Southampton - Portsmouth - Brighton )

Branch lines

  • Atlantic Coast Line (Par - Newquay )
  • Avocet Line ( Exeter - Plymouth)
  • Golden Valley Line ( Swindon - Gloucester)
  • Heart of Wessex Line ( Westbury - Weymouth )
  • Looe Valley Line ( Liskeard - Looe )
  • Maritime Line ( Truro - Falmouth )
  • Riviera Line ( Exeter - Paignton )
  • Severn Beach Line ( St. Erth - St Ives )
  • Tamar Valley Line ( Plymouth - Gunnislake )
  • Tarka Line ( Exeter - Barnstaple )


In fiscal year 2004/ 05 22.3 million passengers were transported on the network by First Great Western. A total of 2.718 million passenger kilometers were registered, corresponding to an average trip length of 121 kilometers. 79.6 % of all trains had less than 10 minutes late. This value is itself a low by British standards.

First Great Western has three main operating workshops: Old Oak Common ( three and a half kilometers west of Paddington ), Laira in Plymouth and St Phillips Marsh at Bristol Temple Meads train station. Other minor maintenance workshops are located in Penzance, Landore and Exeter.

Rolling stock

  • Class 43 - for high-speed long-distance express trains; HST trains by First Great Western were redesigned by Bombardier in Derby since 2007 and are now equipped with new seats from Grammer and sockets
  • Class 57 - locomotives for sleeping-car and car trains
  • Class 180 ' Adelante' diesel locomotive for express trains
  • Class 143 - Rail buses for suburban services in Bristol
  • Class 150 - DMUs for regional transport
  • Class 153 - Diesel Railcars (especially for amplifier trains)
  • Class 158 - DMUs for regional transport
  • Class 165 - diesel railcars for suburban transport in London
  • Class 166 - diesel railcars on longer suburban routes from London
  • Class 360 - EMUs for the Heathrow Connect offer ( joint operation with BAA plc )