More trains to Weymouth and the return of extra Summer Saturday services in GWR’s May Timetable
GWR has responded to changes in passenger travel patterns in Dorset and made changes to their Heart of Wessex route from Castle Cary to Weymouth, adding additional services to bring the line up to a regular two hourly service during the week.
Passengers will also benefit from a new year-round 2128 Weymouth to Westbury service, running Monday to Thursday, meeting the aspiration for a later return journey.
In addition, throughout the summer, from 22 May, visitors to Weymouth will see two additional direct Summer Saturday morning services at 0809 from Gloucester and 0845 from Swindon. Additional return services from Weymouth will operate at 1845 to Bristol Temple Meads and 1940 to Swindon.
Welcoming the launch of new services, Cllr Ray Bryan of Dorset Council said:
"I'm delighted to see additional services on the Weymouth to Bristol line. It is important that people have access to modern, frequent public transport options to reduce car use which in turn lessens traffic congestion and improves air quality and helps us meet our climate targets.”
GWR remains committed to further improvements on the Heart of Wessex line, which in the long term would require changes to the infrastructure. The train operator is continuing to work with Network Rail, Western Gateway Sub-National Transport Body, Dorset Council, and local partners to support the development of the rail improvement plan for Dorset.
West Dorset MP Chris Loder said:
“After 3 and a half years of campaigning, this is a major improvement to train services on the Yeovil to Dorchester and Weymouth Line. It will mean that local people can enjoy an evening at the beach in summer.”
As well as improvements to services on the Heart of Wessex line, GWR will extend their Swansea services through to Carmarthen and following funding by the West of England Combined Authority will increase the frequency of services from Bristol to Gloucester, Worcester, Bath and Westbury with some services extending to Salisbury and Southampton.
The changes will help deliver on long-planned ambitions across the network and will see around 20% of all trains retimed to better suit passenger needs, providing greater value for money for taxpayers and leaner and greener travel options on public transport.
GWR Managing Director Mark Hopwood said:
“Weekend and leisure travel has seen considerable growth on the GWR network since the Covid-19 pandemic, with many people choosing to travel to key destinations such as Weymouth by train. This new timetable reflects that change and will allow more people, whether they’re local or visiting from further afield, to enjoy a great day out in Dorset.”
The number of GWR services on an average weekday will increase from 1643 in May 2019 to 1720 in May 2023.
The new May timetable also includes changes to London and Thames Valley services, bringing greater connectivity with Elizabeth Line destinations; a significant number of extra trains in South Wales better connecting Carmarthen to Swansea and beyond towards London; and further enhancements as part of the MetroWest scheme, doubling GWR services between Gloucester and Bristol, and adding an extra train an hour between Westbury and Bristol.
Passengers will also benefit from carbon reductions from changes in the type of train used on some routes.
Detailed service changes are now available in online journey planners and through GWR’s Journey Check service https://www.gwr.com/travel-information/travel-updates/check-your-journey and those used to catching a specific train should check their journey in advance.
Note to editors
London and Thames Valley
Additional Elizabeth line services will run with up to ten trains per hour east of Heathrow Airport Junction, allowing GWR to make changes to better shape services in the Thames Valley:
London Paddington-Didcot Parkway Class 387 (electric trains) services will run non-stop from Slough to Paddington on the mainline – saving as much as 10 minutes on journey times.
Switching from the relief lines will also help performance, avoiding conflict with Elizabeth line services. Services on the mainlines will be retimed, and there will be various minor changes to re-cast services around the revised Paddington-Didcot service. The 0634 Didcot-Paddington, 0831 Reading-Paddington, 1656 Paddington-Maidenhead and 1757 Paddington-Reading services will be replaced by Elizabeth line services.
London Paddington-Oxford services will now call at Didcot Parkway.
Marlow, Henley, Windsor and Greenford branch line services will be retimed to ensure they better connect with the mainline services in the revised timetable.
London Paddington-North Cotswolds services will no longer call at Slough off peak. This will enable them to be sped up progressively. This will reduce journey times by approximately 5 minutes.
South and West Wales
GWR intends to introduce 65 additional direct services between Carmarthen and London Paddington.
It will introduce additional direct services to Carmarthen, calling at Llanelli, Pembrey and Burry Port. This is an extension of the Swansea services, and will mean two hourly services with additional weekday departures at:
- Carmarthen to London - 0927, 1127, 1424, 1619, 1818, 2030 (to Bristol Parkway)
- London to Carmarthen - 0648, 0948, 1148, 1348, 1548
And additional Saturday departures at:
- Carmarthen to London - 0932, 1325, 1528, 1720, 1919 (to Swansea)
- London to Carmarthen - 0648, 0848, 1048, 1248, 1448
The popular summer services to Pembroke Dock will also return for the first time since Covid, with four services a day between May and September.
The current 2022 Swansea to Swindon service will terminate at Bristol Parkway from May.
Enhancing leisure travel
Responding to changes in demand for leisure travel, GWR has reviewed its South-West timetable to develop support for this important market.
- The 0637 Paddington-Penzance will cease to operate and the 0545 Paddington-Bristol will be replaced by a new 0600 Paddington-Penzance service travelling via Swindon and Bristol, calling Plymouth at 0940 and Penzance at 1140. This will provide a direct service from Swindon, Bath and Bristol to Devon and Cornwall
- GWR will add eight additional weekday direct services between London and Weston-super-Mare by extending Bristol services. All services will call additionally at Nailsea, Yatton and Worle
- GWR will add an 0838 Paddington-Westbury service calling at all Kennet Valley stations between Reading and Westbury to allow for earlier travel. Kennet Valley calls on the 0938 Paddington to Paignton will be removed to allow for a reduced journey time to Torbay
- Additional Saturday Weymouth services will run with two morning services (0809 Gloucester-Weymouth and 0845 Swindon-Weymouth) and two evening services (1845 Weymouth-Bristol Temple Meads and 1940 Weymouth-Swindon) throughout the summer, along with a new, year-round additional service at 2128 from Weymouth to Bristol, Monday to Thursday
- The 1004 Paddington-Penzance service will run non-stop from Reading to Exeter to give an earlier arrival in Devon and Cornwall
- Direct London services to Newquay will run throughout the summer, alongside a number of other high summer services
Impacting Bristol, Gloucester, Worcester, Westbury, Salisbury, Southampton, Weymouth.
The next phase of the MetroWest Timetable will start in May, funded by the West of England Combined Authority. This will mean:
- Bristol-Westbury becomes three trains per hour, with the new service being a stopping service (some services extend beyond Westbury to Salisbury and Southampton
- Bristol-Gloucester becomes two trains per hour and Bristol-Worcester becomes one train per hour, by extending a Gloucester service to Worcester
The MetroWest changes also allow GWR to retime Bristol-Weymouth services into a regular two-hourly pattern.
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Great Western Railway
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