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Great Western Railway

Rail services to be severely affected this week as strike action looms

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The National Union of Rail, Maritime, and Transport Workers (RMT) has announced strike action will take place on Wednesday 27 July, and train drivers’ union, ASLEF, has announced its members will strike on Saturday 30 July.

Great Western Railway (GWR) have said that none of its rail services will operate on the South Wales main line between Carmarthen, Swansea and Cardiff Central.

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Transport for Wales (TfW) say they are not involved in either dispute but its services will be affected, particularly on the 27 July, when the majority of services on the Wales and Borders network will be suspended.

Apart from core valley lines services, the only TfW services operating will be a Cardiff to Newport shuttle, with one train operating hourly in each direction, between 07:30 and 18:30 hours.

Due to the shift patterns of Network Rail’s signallers and the significant challenges moving trains and crew to operate between strike days there is likely to be disruption on Thursday 28 July as well.

On Saturday 30 July, TfW will be running a full timetable but say services are likely be impacted by strike action at other train operating companies. This could result in short-notice cancellations and changes.

Services from Swansea to Newport are expected to be very busy due to the reduced Great Western Railways timetable.

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Passengers are advised not to travel unless necessary.

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Great Western Railway

More rail strikes set to seriously disrupt train travel

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Great Western Railway (GWR) have said that industrial action by the RMT, Aslef and the TSSA unions will severely affect trains across the GWR network this weekend and next week, with services unable to operate across many routes – including the South Wales mainline.

The action is planned for Saturday 13, Thursday 18 and Saturday 20 August, with days immediately after the strike days also affected. A significantly reduced temporary timetable has been put in place.

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Passengers are advised to find alternative ways to travel on these days and to only travel if absolutely necessary. The majority of GWR train services will not operate and there will be no services on many routes.

While Transport for Wales are not affected by the strikes, services may be very busy in places where GWR are unable to run.

Strike ballots are due to close on 25 August for train drivers working for Transport for Wales and represented by union ASLEF, so further disruption could still be on the cards.

On strike days GWR will operate an extremely limited service between 0700 and 1830, and last trains will leave much earlier.  Where trains are able to operate, they will be extremely busy. 

GWR has said it will operate as many trains as possible during the strike action, however the following travel advice is in place over the strike period: 

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Friday 12 August 
Trains will run as planned but will be busy, and with some minor changes to late night services. Please check before you travel. 

Saturday 13 August 
An extremely limited service will only operate between Bristol Temple-Mead and London Paddington, between Reading and Oxford and between Reading and Basingstoke, with services starting later and finishing much earlier than normal.

No other GWR services, including those in South Wales will run. 
 
Sunday 14 August 
Trains will continue to be severely disrupted, especially on long-distance intercity routes, with GWR asking passengers to make alternative travel arrangements and only travel if absolutely necessary. 
 
There will be no service on the Oxford to Worcester and Hereford route.

A reduced service frequency will operate on other long-distance routes including London Paddington to Bristol Temple Meads, London Paddington to Swansea, London Paddington to Plymouth and Penzance, and London Paddington to Oxford. 

Local stopping services will operate. GWR are asking passengers to check before travelling.
 
Monday 15 August 
A normal timetable will operate. 
 
Tuesday 16 August 
A normal timetable will operate. 
 
Wednesday 17 August 
Trains will run as planned with some minor changes to late night services. GWR are asking passengers to check before travelling.
 
Thursday 18 August 
A significantly limited service will operate, with GWR asking passengers to make alternative travel arrangements and only travel if absolutely necessary. 

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No GWR services will operate on the South Wales main line between Carmarthen and Swansea to Cardiff Central.

No rail services will operate on any lines in Cornwall, including all branch lines. No services will operate west of Newton Abbot (change at Exeter) or towards Plymouth and Cornwall due to no contingency signallers.

All branch lines in Devon including Barnstaple, Exmouth, Paignton, Okehampton will not see any service.

GWR Services will not run on the Berks & Hants line (Reading–Taunton via Castle Cary), Wessex main line (Bath Spa–Portsmouth Harbour), Heart of Wessex line (Westbury–Weymouth), TransWilts line (Swindon–Westbury via Melksham), Severn Beach line (Bristol Temple Meads–Severn Beach), North Cotswolds line (Hereford/Worcester–Oxford), South Cotswolds line (Cheltenham Spa–Swindon), Greenford branch line, North Downs line (Reading–Gatwick Airport) or between Worcester and Gloucester. 

GWR are asking passengers to check before travelling.

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Friday 19 August 
Trains will continue to be disrupted, with passengers urged to make alternative travel arrangements and only travel if absolutely necessary. 

Trains will start later and there will be a reduced level of service throughout the day. Please check before you travel. 
 
Saturday 20 August 
An extremely limited service will operate. GWR services will start later and finish much earlier than normal. 
 
No GWR rail services will operate between Cardiff and Bath or on the South Wales main line between Carmarthen and Swansea to Cardiff Central.

No services will run between Bristol Temple Meads and London Paddington, between Bristol and Gloucester or between Bristol and Exeter. 

All lines in Cornwall, including all branch lines will see no service.

There will also be no trains west of Newton Abbot towards Plymouth and Cornwall. 

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All branch lines in Devon, including Barnstaple, Exmouth, Paignton, Okehampton will not see any service.

GWR Services will not run on the Berks & Hants line (Reading–Taunton via Castle Cary), Wessex main line (Bath Spa–Portsmouth Harbour), Heart of Wessex line (Westbury–Weymouth), TransWilts line (Swindon–Westbury via Melksham), Severn Beach line (Bristol Temple Meads–Severn Beach), North Cotswolds line (Hereford/Worcester–Oxford), South Cotswolds line (Cheltenham Spa–Swindon), Greenford branch line, North Downs line (Reading–Gatwick Airport) or between Worcester and Gloucester. 

GWR are asking passengers to check before travelling.

Sunday 21 August 
Trains will start later, however a normal level of service is expected. Please check before you travel. 

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Great Western Railway

Severn Rail Tunnel to close for engineering works

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Trains that run through the Severn Tunnel between Bristol and South Wales will be affected as part of an ongoing programme of rail improvement work this July.

Network Rail say they will carry out essential track maintenance as well as testing the electrical power supply in the tunnel in July.

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The work will see more than two miles of track, sleepers and ballast (the stones on the railway) replaced to ensure the continued safe and reliable operation of the railway.

The new track will also enable the removal of a temporary 50mph speed restriction through the tunnel, improving passenger’s journeys and reducing the risk of infrastructure faults.

The track work will affect Great Western Railway services from Friday 1 to Sunday 10 July.

David Bailey, GWR’s customer service manager for South Wales, said: “The work inside the Severn Tunnel will support our train service in Wales, especially those trains running under electric power serving Cardiff Central and Newport.

“We will divert long-distance trains via an alternative route and provide road transport between Newport and Bristol Parkway to ensure customers can complete their journeys.”

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Trains between London and South Wales will use an alternative route between Swindon and Newport, stopping at Gloucester instead of Bristol Parkway.

A limited train service will still run between London Paddington and Bristol Parkway on weekdays only, otherwise they will travel via Bristol Temple Meads instead.

Buses will replace trains between Bristol Parkway and Newport, with customers advised to plan their journey beforehand.

In addition, buses will also replace trains at Lawrence Hill and Stapleton Road for Filton Abbey Wood or Bristol Parkway on Friday 8 and Saturday 9 July.

Follow-up engineering work is planned that will affect trains between Bristol and South Wales on Sunday 17 July and again on Sunday 14 August (until midday).

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Mark Dix, Project Manager at Network Rail, said: “The Severn Tunnel is a vital rail link for passengers travelling between Wales and England, so it is extremely important that we invest in its future.

“Once this work is finished, passengers travelling via Bristol Parkway will experience fewer delays with much more reliable journeys.

“I appreciate that this work is going to cause some disruption for passengers, so I would like to thank them in advance for their patience.”

(Lead image: Network Rail / GWR)

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Great Western Railway

Great Western Railway get contract renewal to continue running services til 2025

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The Department for Transport (DfT) has awarded a National Rail Contract (NRC) to Great Western Railway (GWR) to continue operating the Great Western network.

The new contract will run until at least 21 June 2025, with the potential for a further three years at the Secretary of State’s discretion.

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In line with the contract, GWR is committed to attracting people back to the railway by continuing to deliver improvements in customer experience, while focusing investment on sustainable services, and providing better value for money for customers and the taxpayer.

Since taking over the Great Western franchise in 2015, GWR has seen satisfaction levels among customers climb from 81% to 91%, helped considerably by the introduction of its high-speed Intercity Express Trains and the biggest timetable change in a generation in December 2019.

GWR Managing Director Mark Hopwood said: “We are delighted to have been awarded a National Rail Contract by the Department for Transport, which is a sign of its confidence in GWR as a trusted operator, and means we can continue to build on welcoming more people back to the railway.

“We look forward to working with our rail partners to develop services designed to meet changing customer needs, and putting passengers at the heart of an updated, modern railway.”

Rail Minister Wendy Morton said: “We’re delighted to continue our partnership with Great Western Railway, and excited by its plans to deliver more benefits for local communities.

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“During the pandemic, GWR was instrumental in keeping critical services moving and this new contract will see it continue to deliver our ambitious Plan for Rail and provide a fantastic service for passengers.”

(Lead image: GWR)

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