Railway remains a vital means of transport in Great Britain since the initial days of the Great Western Railway. Statistics indicate that the number of passengers travelling by railway has doubled for the last two years. In this article, we will focus on everything you need to know about the Great Western Railway.

People in railway station

The history of the Great Western Railway

From 1833 – 1854

The first national rail operated from 1833 to 1947. During that time, it linked London to the West Midlands. The entire construction was made in sections with the first section stopping at Taplow and the second at Bristol. This railway was the first to have an electric telegraph.

In 1833 March, through the act of parliament, the 27-year-old leading engineer Isambard Brunel was mandated to play a role as a chief engineer during the construction of the Great Western Railway. After a long period of construction, the contractor was able to deliver and people could use it on various routes. However, Brunel used gauge 2.2 instead of 1.55.

The headquarters were at Paddington station, and they would execute all the maintenance mainly at Swindon.  Since Swindon was midway of London and Bristol, it was also used as a junction. By 1844, the national rail had extended to Exeter and Gloucester. Up to 1854, problems came up because they choose a route that was far away from the town when transporting goods and passengers. Also, the broad gauge was big and brought a negative effect on the locomotives.

Present Day Operating Train Company

The privatization of the British railway came with positive results. In 1996 things changed when privatization commenced. It happened by companies acquiring shares, and the name changed in 2015. The company continued to assure people of quality services.

Today, the Great Western Railway operations at the 197 stations are managed by the FirstGroup. The group bought it from Great Western Holdings. It is estimated to carry around 105 million occupants annually.

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Routes and stations of the Great Western Railway

The ancient GWR that people at some point referred to as God’s Wonderful Railway had various routes and stations. It started as the main route and later developed various routes. Railway inquiry was common, and people could travel to West County and Southwest. The first route was from London to Maiden and they later extended to Twyford.

Another extension was in June of 1840 to Farringdon Road and later on to Bridgewater. By 1849 the carriage carrier on broad gauge had extended to Plymouth. The railway continued to extend and by 1869, it had extended from Oxford to Basingstoke.

In the 20th century, the two gauges were removed, and the focus was now on new and upgraded lines. Things changed when the world war came out. Most of the railway operators had joined the forces, and everything seemed to be on a standstill. When the wars ended, the government’s only option was to privatize the operations.

Services offered while travelling on the Great Western Railway

Passenger services. All the trains offered passenger services in various instances. People were free to choose whether it is the first or second class. With the railway carriages serving every station, the number of passengers who boarded between 1850 and 1934 had increased exponentially.

Freight services. Although passengers were the main money contributors, goods also brought significant revenue. However, large goods were carried on specific trains. With an increase in demand for carrying goods, the size of locomotives was increased accordingly.

Long-distance express services. Those choosing long distances were not left behind. Great Western Railway helped move goods and people on long distances that other means of transportation might not accommodate.

Suburban and rural services. Not only did the railway connect in the urban areas but also at the suburban levels. These are areas with multiple residents and linking them was the best thing. It was the same case with rural railway transport.

How efficient was the Great Western Railway

The tickets were cheap. You had a chance to travel to your preferred destination, and it would not cost you much. During holidays, the majority of travellers coming to London or travelling to the outskirts preferred trains.

It was luxurious by then. From 1929, the new centenary carriages were set up, and they received high recognition among the users. They were built to accommodate more customers and boost their comfort levels.

Employment came in hand. For many years of operation, the railway service had employed multiple individuals. During then, it was among the top employer where workers’ mandate was always a priority.

The railway opened ancillary operations. Some sections, especially the canals, became railway property. They added various stations at these places, opening the railway transport further. There were many transitions in the Great Western Railway. Brunel came up with locomotives that, at some point, seemed unsatisfactory. However, later improvements worked. Carriages and advanced wagons in the 1990s had a lot to offer due to improvement from the previous locomotives. Those who used the railway can witness the satisfaction acquired.