GWR Intercity Express (UK)

These swish, very new trains, which travel at up to 125 miles per hour/200 km/h, are now used on all of the services provided by Great Western Railway on these routes:

London Paddington <> Bristol/Weston S. Mare via Bath
London Paddington <> Swansea and West Wales via Cardiff and Newport
London Paddington <> Penzance via Taunton, Exeter, Plymouth and stations in Cornwall
London Paddington <> Paignton via Taunton, Exeter and Torquay
London Paddington <> Hereford via Oxford, Worcester and Great Malvern
London Paddington <> Cheltenham via Stroud and Gloucester 

On some departures two Intercity Express trains can be joined together, usually so that towards the end of the route, the train at the front can leave the other behind and reach more distant and therefore less popular destinations.

So take care when boarding, particularly if you haven’t reserved, but the on board information and train conductor will help ensure that you’re travelling in the correct part of the train.

BOARDING   l    CATERING

ASSISTED TRAVEL
   l   SUMMARY

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11 Things that are good to know about travelling on an InterCity Express train:

(1) Complimentary Wi-Fi access is available throughout the train.

(2) Power sockets are available at all seats and USB sockets are also available at table seats in First Class.

(3) Each 1st and Standard Class coach on the train offers a mix of table seats and airline style seats, and you can specify a preference for being sat at a table seat when booking tickets.

(4) When booking tickets on the Great Western Railway website, you can also request forward-facing seats when adding a complimentary seat reservation.

(5) Some seats in both First and Standard Class have restricted views from the window, but when making a reservation you have to leave this to chance, as there’s no means of checking whether you have been assigned these seats.

(6) A somewhat odd aspect of the reservation process on the Great Western Railway website, is that you will be informed that you have been assigned a seat in a non-smoking coach/carriage, but like all British trains smoking is not permitted anywhere on board.

(7) At least one 'Quiet Coach' is available in Standard Class on all departures, in which travellers are asked not make or receive calls during a journey.

(8) An at-seat catering service is provided in First Class and in Standard Class on most departures.

(9) Spaces for non-folding bikes must be reserved ahead of boarding and these bike reservations can be added when booking your travel tickets on the Great Western Railway website.
Or you can book at a later date by calling 0345 7000 125.
ShowMeTheJourney doesn’t recommend booking at stations, as spaces are limited and non-folding bikes can’t be stored anywhere else on the train.

The bike storage areas for non-folding bikes are in coaches B and/or H and it is your responsibility to load and secure you bike on to the rack.

 (10) A positive feature of these new Intercity Express trains is that more space has been provided for luggage.
Though Great Western Railway understandably recommends that only larger items of luggage are placed on the racks, the maximum suitcase size permitted is 25cm x 45cm x 70cm.
More information is available here.

(11) Up to two dogs can travel for free with an individual, or group of travellers.

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Boarding:

If you have a seat reservation:

At  London Paddington the number of the platform (track) that a specific departure will be leaving from, normally appears on the information screens 10 -15 minutes prior to departure.

This will signal the start of a race to board the train, but if you have a reservation, you can take your time as your seat(s) will be waiting for you to occupy them.

If you will be boarding at a station at which the train will be calling during a journey, there are now usually signs on the platform (track) which will show you where to wait for boarding into each coach/carriage.

Don’t just check the coach/carriage numbers by the doors, also check the seat number info that’s on the outside of the train, all coaches will have two doors, one at each end and the other door may be nearer to your seat.

Worth knowing is that you don’t have to occupy the seat you have been assigned, in order for your travel ticket to be valid, the train conductor will check the ticket, but not the reservation.

So if for any reason you want to travel in a different seat, you can do so, as long as you check that the alternative seat(s) you want to move to haven’t been reserved, so will be available for your journey.

If you don’t have heavy luggage, then after departure it can be worth having a walk through the train, to see what seats are available in other coaches.
On some departures some of the coaches on the train tend to be relatively busy, while others will be comparatively empty.

Though it will be fairly obvious if you are travelling on a busy train, if that is the case persevering with remaining in your allocated seat(s) will be the best option.

If you don’t have a seat reservation:

On busy trains you will have to leave finding available seats to chance, Great Western Railway doesn’t provide any particular info which will help guide travellers to available seats.

Though don’t despair if no seats are initially available, many travellers make short-distance journeys by these trains, so it’s often likely that seats will become available at the next station call.

Booking online in advance so that you can access complimentary seat reservations is particularly recommended by ShowMeTheJourney if you will be:

(1) travelling in either direction between London and Bath, Bristol and Worcester between 16:00 and 19:30 on Mon-Friday as these routes are particularly popular with commuters.

(2) Any journey after 14:00 on Fridays and Sundays.

(3) When travelling before 14:00 to/from destinations in Devon and Cornwall on summer Saturdays.

Back to the menu.

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Catering:

Standard Class:

On MOST departures at some point during the journey, a catering trolley will be taken through the train, from which you can order hot/cold drinks, snacks and sandwiches at your seat.
Though this service doesn’t tend to be available when trains are exceptionally busy.

There is also an on-board café from which you can order hot food and a more extensive range of food/drink items.

First Class:

If you won’t be making a short-distance journey, on Monday-Saturday a complimentary food and drink trolley service is USUALLY available to First Class passengers at their seats.
On Sundays and when the trolley service isn’t available, the on board conductor will issue tokens to first class travellers, which can be exchanged for items in the on-board café.

Though on a recent Saturday journey taken by ShowMeThe Journey, First Class travellers were issued with complimentary snack boxes

The complimentary menus can be viewed here – though note that hot food items and alcoholic drinks are not included in the offering.

Pullman Dining in the on-board restaurant:

An on-board restaurant is available on these departures only:

From London Paddington:
10:45 to Swansea via Newport and Cardiff
12:03 and 13:03 and 18:03 to Penzance via Exeter, Plymouth and Truro
19:03 to Plymouth via Exeter.

To London Paddington:
The train which arrives in London on Mon-Sat at around 08:56 from Swansea via Cardiff and Newport
The train which arrives in London on Mon-Fri only at 10:02 from Penzance via Truro, Plymouth and Exeter
The train which arrives in London on Mon-Sat at around 15:20 from Penzance via Truro, Plymouth and Exeter.
The train which arrives in London daily at 16:21 from (Penzance via Truro), Plymouth and Exeter
The train which arrives in London on Mon-Fri only at 21:22 from Penzance via Truro, Plymouth and Exeter

First Class passengers can reserve prior to boarding and ShowMeTheJourney recommends booking your travel tickets and dining reservations together by calling 0345 7000 125.
The reason being is that two InterCity Express trains can be joined together on some departures and when that is the case the Pullman Dining service will be available in one of the trains, but not the other.

Second class ticket holders can ask the conductor if Pullman Dining places are available once you have boarded.

Back to the menu.

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Assisted Travel:

These Intercity Express trains have both wheelchair spaces and seats with additional leg-room available on all departures, but even if you don’t require these specific services, you can book assisted travel, the information is available here.

Back to the menu.
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