Leader welcomes faster, direct morning service for city

Plymouth City Council leader Tudor Evans today welcomed First Great Western’s announcement of an improved service for the South West, providing an earlier morning direct service from London to Plymouth and Cornwall.

The first train from London is 40 minutes earlier than now, with a 10 minute faster journey time. The new service will leave London at 7.06am and arrive in Plymouth at 10.37am.

He said: “This is a great day – we have won something we have campaigned long and hard for. We are being listened to. The service will be faster, more direct and arrive earlier into Plymouth. It’s fantastic news. It’s good for business as it means clients and contacts can do a day’s business here and get back to London in a reasonable time.

“It sends out the message that Plymouth is connected. People will no longer have to wait for a connecting train from Newton Abbot to be here in the morning. This is transformational – not just for here in Plymouth but it’s great for the region too – especially Cornwall. It all helps to change the perception that we are long away from the action and is helping to shrink the country and journey times.

“I know a lot of hard work has gone on behind the scenes for First Great Western and I’d particularly like to thank Mark Hopwood, their Manaaging Director. This is a great result.”

The Department for Transport has agreed to the first significant redesign of First Great Western’s mainline timetable in Devon and Cornwall for over a decade. Answering the calls of local business, the proposals will deliver a much-improved service for the region, supporting the generation of economic growth through improved connectivity between major centres.

Other improvements include:

• The 0706 Paddington-Paignton service will now instead run to Plymouth and Penzance, arriving 40 minutes earlier at key stations from Totnes and beyond than the current first direct service from London. The 0730 Paddington-Penzance service will now instead run to Paignton.
Additional capacity for summer travellers on the late morning (1039) service from Plymouth through Cornwall by using an eight carriage High Speed Train rather than a smaller local train.
• Faster mid-morning service between Paddington and Plymouth
• Improved connections between Paddington and Torbay
• Faster return service between Paignton and London

First Great Western Managing Director Mark Hopwood said: “We have been able to make important changes that have gone a long way to support the communities we serve, increasing the number of services in the south west by 143% since 2007.

“The South West is a key region for First Great Western and one which we are proud to serve. We know the needs of the region are changing and we need to make sure our timetable reflects the requirements of passengers and communities. In particular, these changes we are planning reflect the long standing aspirations of customers across the South West. It is something we have wanted to do for some time and I am delighted that the Department for Transport and the responses to the local consultation have allowed us to take this forward.

“This has been a difficult year for rail travel in the south west and it is great to deliver some good news to follow the speedy recovery from the sea wall collapse.”