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First class seats removed to make more space

Work has begun to rip out thousands of first class seats on some of the region's busiest train routes to tackle overcrowding.

Carriages on First Great Western trains will be converted so they can be used by standard class passengers instead.

The thirteen million pound scheme is expected to create an additional 3000 seats for standard class passengers, according to the train company. The existing three first class carriages on high speed trains will be reduced to two or two and a half carriages.

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Improvements promised after franchise extension

Passengers are being promised a series of improvements from First Great Western during the franchise extension, including better wifi and additional sleep carriages:

I am also determined that we see further improvements during the lifetime of this contract; more standard class and fewer first class seats on key services and the delivery of more electric trains for the Thames Valley.

This agreement provides further proof that the Government's new franchising schedule is on track, delivering value for money for the taxpayer and supporting the ongoing multibillion-pound investment programme in our railways.

– Patrick McLoughlin, Transport Secretary

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First Great Western line deal extended by government

First Great Western has been given a 23-month extension to its franchise. The company will carry on running the Great Western main line until September 2015 before bidding starts for a new long-term franchise.

The line runs from London's Paddington station out to the Cotswolds, South Wales and south-west England.
The line runs from London's Paddington station out to the Cotswolds, South Wales and south-west England Credit: Press Association
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First Great Western to cut number of announcements

First Great Western is to cut the number of announcements on its trains. By the end of this month it will have re-trained 1,000 staff to keep them relevant and brief.

Passengers have long said many are annoying, pointless and repetitive.

Even Transport Minister Norman Baker has urged train operators to curb "excessive" announcements.

In this report we talk to David Crone of First Great Western and George Bentley a Train Manager who makes announcements on the line to Paddington, and hear from Passengers.

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