What are thought to be the first journeys made by a nine-coach InterCity Express Train along the Cotswold Line took place on Monday, May 14, when GWR IET 800302 worked a test train both ways between Oxford and Worcester.
The train operated from and back to trainbuilder Hitachi’s maintenance depot at Stoke Gifford, north of Bristol.
On Friday, 800302 also made a test run from Stoke Gifford to Worcester and Hereford and then ran back to Stoke Gifford along the Marches Line through Abergavenny to Newport. This route will be used by empty IETs running between the depot and Hereford in future.
The train paused briefly at stations to check the locations of stopping point markers and verify which doors can be opened safely.
GWR managing director Mark Hopwood told the CLPG’s annual meeting on Saturday, May 12, that the first use of a nine-coach IET in passenger service on the Cotswold Line was pencilled in for Monday, June 11, when one is expected to operate the 17.22 from London Paddington to Hereford and the 21.51 return service.
A number of other Cotswold Line services should be converted from HST operation to nine-coach IETs from Monday, June 25.
In the same way as on HSTs, passengers will need to listen for announcements about which coaches will have their doors unlocked at the short platforms at the stations along the route.
Work to extend platforms, so that most will be able to accommodate seven of the 26-metre coaches on IET trains, is due to be carried out by Network Rail in the autumn.
Click here for more details of the platform extensions project.