TRAIN journeys to London from Somerset could be set to get shorter.

Great Western Railway (GWR) has unveiled a new timetable for lines through Bristol and says it offers faster journey times, more seats, and more frequent services to key locations.

Among them is a faster journey time between Bristol stations and London, which will see journeys cut by as much as 17 minutes thanks to new electric lines which can be utilised by GWR's Intercity Express Trains (IETs).

This includes services from Taunton and Weston super Mare, which pass through Bristol.

Regular users are being asked to check their new journey times ahead of the biggest timetable change on the network since 1976.

The new timetable comes into use on Sunday, December 15.

As well as the electric lines, from December, three extra trains will operate between Bristol Temple Meads and London Paddington in the morning and evening peaks, increasing the frequency of service from two an hour to three.

The extra trains will call at fewer stations, and will use the full accelerating power of GWRs new trains.

Two additional services in the morning and evening peaks will also operate from South Wales to Bristol Parkway and then direct into London Paddington.

From May 2020 GWR plans to extend these extra peak time trains to operate throughout the day.

West of England Mayor, Tim Bowles said: “This is great news for the West of England and will help people switch from cars to public transport, reducing congestion and improving the air we breathe.

"The new timetable will support the new rail services we have planned across the region through MetroWest and it’s great to see even more investment in both track and train.”

The changes are enabled by GWR’s Intercity Express Trains (IETs), which will take advantage of infrastructure improvements to run to a fully electric timetable for the first time.

This unlocks the full benefits of the train’s modern design and improved acceleration to provide faster more frequent services.

Customers will see journey times into London, non-stop from Bristol Parkway, cut to just 1 hour 8 minutes.

The fastest journey times between London Paddington and Bristol Temple Meads will be cut to 1 hour 19 minutes, 17 minutes faster than is possible today.

Chard & Ilminster News:

'ALL CHANGE PLEASE': First Great Western managing director, Mark Hopwood

GWR managing director, Mark Hopwood, said: “It’s just 12 weeks until Sunday December 15, and we have been working hard behind the scenes to prepare to implement the biggest timetable change on this network since 1976, enabling us to take advantage of the full benefits that new Intercity Express Trains are bringing.

“In providing more frequent and quicker journeys, our new timetable will for the vast majority of users quite literally mean ‘all change please’ and we are pleased the new timetable has been published.”

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There are also more improvements for customers travelling into the city between Cardiff and Portsmouth, a popular route for commuters travelling to and from Bristol, as GWR continues to roll out more modern, five-carriage Turbo trains to replace the current three-carriage Class 150 units.

Those travelling on GWR services between Cardiff and Taunton/Exeter via Bristol can also expect to see Castle trains, modernised High Speed Trains with four carriages and automatic closing doors, running at the busiest times of day on the route. These trains will help to increase seats numbers on the line by over 1,800 every weekday.

The Severn Beach line, which was the first to see newer, longer Turbo trains to improve capacity in 2017, sees a significant improvement to Sunday services with trains extending through to Severn Beach.

Mike Gallop, route managing director for Network Rail, said: “The timetable change this December will be the biggest since 1976 and will mean faster journeys and more frequent services for passengers.

“It follows unprecedented investment in railway infrastructure including electrification, improved signalling, upgraded stations and much more which together with the introduction of new trains will transform rail travel.”