In unveiling its new dark- green and ivory livery, which will disappoint traditionalists who hoped for a return to the line's traditional chocolate and cream, the managing director of Great Western, Brian Scott, confirmed many of the improvements promised when the line was privatised in February.
Great Western, which operates inter-city services to the West and South Wales, is now run by a consortium controlled by the management-employee buy-out team, with support from a bus company and a merchant bank.
Mr Scott said Great Western had increased the number of trains every weekday from 134 to 139 and promised that a half-hour shuttle service to Bristol and Cardiff would be introduced by the summer of 1999. Two extra train "sets" had been bought, innovations such as family carriages are to be extended, and there will be a new uniform for 1,500 staff. Half the fleet of 38 trains will be sporting new livery by next autumn.
While John Watts, the rail minister, was on hand to extol the benefits of rail privatisation, Richard George, Great Western's deputy managing director, admitted that many of the improvements might well have happened under BR.
"In many respects it's not different under rail privatisation," he said. "But we can get off our backsides quicker and we have fewer bureaucratic constraints."Reuse content