First Great Western: Gateway to the West

Author(s): John Balmforth 

ISBN: 9781781550045
£11.99 £14.99
A complete profile of this thriving modern railway franchise, serving the South East and the West from its base in Swindon.
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This is the story of First Great Western, the Train Operating Company whose performance rose from being the worst for a long distance operator in the UK to becoming one of the best in a few short years; whose passengers felt so disgruntled they even organized a fares strike. The franchise grew out of the Great Western, set up upon privatisation in 1993, and the company as it currently stands was created after the merger of the First Great Western, Great Western Link and Wessex Trains franchises in 2006. But in 2008, the Department for Transport became so disillusioned it issued a Remedial Notice Plan (the first step to a holder losing its franchise) before a new management team kick started the company back into life.

In this book, the reader can find out how First Great Western became an award winning train operator after coming so close to losing the franchise. They can see photographs of the only Pullman Dining service in the UK on the Paddington—Penzance sleeper train. We learn what goes on at one of its main Traction Maintenance Depots and how new life was breathed into rolling stock old enough to be considered railway heritage. The book also discusses how electrification of the Great Western Main Line will improve passenger services and cut journey times.

This is a book that will have plenty to interest modern railway enthusiasts, but will also have much to offer to readers with an interest in the running of a successful rail business in this era of privatisation.

BOOK ISBN 9781781550045
FORMAT 235 x 165 mm
BINDING Paperback
PAGES 96 pages
ILLUSTRATIONS 120 colour photographs



John Balmforth is a retired professional railway man who has continued a lifelong interest in the railways as the author of five successful books. These being Virgin Trains - A Decade of Progress (2007), GNER - the route of the Flying Scotsman (2008), Virgin Atlantic (2009), South West Trains (2011), Virgin Trains - From HST to Pendolino (2012). Prior to that he was Deputy Chair of the Statutory Rail Passengers Committee for the Midlands where was the author of a number of reports published by the RPC on railways.