This week, Great Western Railway began operating a three-an-hour train service on the North Downs Line.
It has been an ambition for more than 10 years to get additional services on the line, and now 8 extra weekday trains will run between Redhill and Reading.
GWR Business Assurance Director Joe Graham said: “Introducing three trains an hour on the North Downs line has been a long-held ambition of ours and we’ve worked closely with Network Rail and other partners to deliver these improvements, which couldn’t be better timed as we welcome more people back to the railway.
“A lot of hard work has been done to make sure people can be confident to travel safely, and that includes running more trains and carriages to make extra room, as well as enhanced cleaning and social distancing measures.”
In addition, from this coming Saturday, trains will operate hourly throughout the day, except the first and last hours.
By early next year, all services are expected to have more carriages, with the introduction of new Class 769 tri-mode trains, the first of which arrived last month.
The Class 769 fleet can run on overhead and third-rail electric lines, as well as under its own diesel power. The trains have more capacity and have been refurbished inside and out. Power is available at each seat, and there will be free onboard Wifi.
Deputy Leader of Reading Council, Councillor Tony Page, said: “Reading Council has long campaigned for these extra services. The line is important for commuting, for education and for leisure and has shown significant growth over many years. This is therefore a positive step forward.
“We will continue to press for more trains at peak times and we want to see the new tri-mode trains, with their dual electric diesel traction, on the route as soon as possible. Rail is an important driver for our local and regional economy and we will continue to work with GWR and NR to keep up the momentum for further improvements.”
North Downs Line Officer for the Southeast Communities Rail Partnership, David Daniels, said: “The introduction of the third train per hour has been a long-held aspiration of GWR and the communities along the North Downs Line it serves, so we’re delighted to see the extra trains being added to the timetable and look forward to trying the 769 fleet when it becomes available.”
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