Places | Thu 10 Sep
Daytripper: Visit Evesham
Hilary Mantel's literary success takes our interest to Evesham, where the rich and powerful ...
Travellers on the North Cotswold line will no doubt have noticed over the last few months that a big change was on the horizon. The full scale of that change has only now been unveiled as distinctive and strikingly liveried trains begin to take pride of place on the line, badged with a new (yet comfortingly familiar) set of initials: GWR.
To connect with their heritage, First Great Western changed their name to Great Western Railway (GWR) in September 2015 as part of their £7.5 billion schedule of improvements – the biggest investment since the network’s founding days 182 years ago.
The new name is a symbol of change, but it also looks to the past - celebrating a history stretching all the way to the ingenious civil engineer, Isambard Kingdom Brunel, honouring the legacy of the man whose iron will and innovative outlook made the Great Western Railway possible.
But the new name is only one aspect of the package of changes and improvements that GWR will deliver. Uniforms designed in consultation with staff, new train liveries, locally sourced food go alongside faster journeys, more seats and more frequent journeys as part of the new remit. (They’ve even created a Little Black Book of Seafood that promotes ‘food heavens’ in the South West and London).
All the changes won’t happen overnight: it's one of the UK's largest and most complex rail networks after all, carrying 1.5 million passengers every week on 9,000 services, and calling at 276 stations.
But it goes without saying that GWR are now steaming ahead into a different era of rail travel – with electric-powered Super Express Trains a symbol of new times for the company and its passengers.
The changes usher in an exciting set of developments for rail travellers in the Cotswolds.
Those using Kingham Station to travel to and from London and other destinations will be delighted to discover a new car park (containing additional spaces for 122 cars) and a new footbridge connecting the platforms.
Moreton-in-Marsh Station will be fully transformed by a makeover, with new landscaping and signage bringing the station, one of visitors’ main gateways into the Cotswolds, into line with the new vision.
Meanwhile, local history was honoured at Evesham Station, where the historic Battle of Evesham was commemorated with signage commemorating its 750th anniversary. On the London-bound platform, a Revenue Protection Inspector’s office will open.
All eleven stations on the line will be furnished with new welcome signs and new poster frames where customer information will be displayed. New ramps have been installed and access to station toilets improved for disabled passengers.
In Charlbury, Kingham, Moreton-in-Marsh and Evesham stations, RADAR locks have been fitted, meaning that anybody possessing a special RADAR key, used to access accessible toilets around the country, will be able to use them at any time – not just during station opening hours.
Alan Field, Station Manager, North Cotswolds, said: ‘It is always encouraging to see our stations being improved and to be able to provide better facilities for customers.
"Some of our stations are quite old so to be able to provide better access to toilets and improved ramps is a big enhancement."
To book journeys and see service updates, visit www.gwr.com