NEARLY 8,000 extra seats will be available on Great Western Railway trains starting from this month after the new Electrostar fleet hits the tracks.

The fleet, which were introduced to the network at the start of the year, mean that ten per cent more seats will be available at peak times in and out of London Paddington and a 20 per cent rise in seats through Bristol Temple Meads.

The new services mark a major milestone in the modernisation of the Great Western Mainline and follows Network Rail's successful work to electrify the railway line between Paddington and Didcot.

Mark Hopwood, GWR managing director, said: “January marks a massive step towards delivering the capacity improvements we have promised, and the most significant series of improvements for rail passengers in a generation.

“Electric trains will run under the wires between Didcot and London for the first time, delivering real improvements for our passengers in London and the Thames Valley and enabling us to make further improvements throughout our network, supporting the communities we serve.

“Let me also take this opportunity to thank our passengers in advance for their patience during the Christmas period, as Network Rail continue Crossrail works, and its programme to modernise the Great Western.”

Services covering Bristol, Gloucester, Cardiff and Taunton will also see more modern trains introduced, providing up to double the number seats per train.

Mark Langman, Network Rail Western Route Managing Director, said: “This is another major step forward in the biggest ever transformation on the Great Western Mainline as we deliver more trains, more seats and better journeys for communities across the route.

“This will boost local communities and provide a better service for passengers travelling in Didcot, Reading, across the Thames Valley and west London.

“It has been a real team effort as Network Rail and GWR staff worked tirelessly to get to this stage. It is an example of track and train working together for the benefit of the passenger and really does herald an exciting time on the railway.”