Speedier Banbury to London train on its way
Great Western Railway, which serves Banbury, will speeds up its timetable from December, offering faster journey times and more frequent services to key locations.
Train services between the North Cotswolds via Oxford and London will be restructured to deliver a more consistent service pattern throughout the day.
It is the biggest timetable change on the network since 1976, GWR’s Intercity Express Trains (IETs) will take advantage of recent infrastructure improvements to deliver a series of improvements.
In restructuring the timetable GWR will be able to offer a new direct IET fast service between Banbury and London Paddington during the peak periods removing the requirement to change trains at Oxford for customers traveling to and from Banbury.
This will offer an increase in capacity and reduce journey times to 1 hour 8 minutes from the current 1 hour 34 minutes at the same time in the evening peak.
GWR managing director Mark Hopwood said: “While December may seem a long time away for many, we have been working hard behind the scenes to prepare to implement the biggest timetable change on this network since 1976, enabling us to take advantage of the full benefits that new Intercity Express Trains are bringing.
“In providing more frequent and quicker journeys, our new timetable will for the vast majority of users quite literally mean ‘all change please’ and we are looking forward to publishing further details soon.”
Lord Richard Faulkner, chair of the North Cotswolds Line Taskforce said: “This is excellent news for the economies of Oxfordshire, Gloucestershire and Worcestershire. More trains and faster journeys will help with inward investment, and will be a great support for visitors and commuters alike.
"The switch from cars to public transport will be good for the environment, and we expect this to accelerate with the opening of the new Worcestershire Parkway station.
He added: “We will continue to press for more doubling of the line so that in time we can achieve our plans for two trains an hour between Worcestershire and London, but it is great to see meanwhile that by Christmas we will be able to see the benefit of the current investment in both tracks and trains.”
A minimum hourly standard pattern through service, with some peak time additional trains will also be provided between London Paddington and the North Cotswolds.
Mike Gallop, interim route managing director for Network Rail, said: “The timetable change this December will be the biggest since 1976 and will mean faster journeys and more frequent services for passengers.
“It follows unprecedented investment in railway infrastructure including electrification, improved signalling, upgraded stations and much more which together with the introduction of new trains will transform rail travel.”
The planned improvements are so significant, particularly for those who travel regularly and used to catching a particular service every day, that GWR is launching an awareness campaign to highlight the changes ahead, and make sure customers are prepared.
The timetable is expected to come into effect on 15 December, and the plans are subject to final industry approval including from Network Rail. It is expected to be published on 15 September.