First Great Western Link
1 April 2004 – 31 March 2006
|Main region(s)||Thames Valley|
|Other region(s)||North Downs, Cotswolds|
|Stations called at||95|
|National Rail abbreviation||FK|
In April 2003 the Strategic Rail Authority invited First and Go-Ahead to bid for a two-year extension to the Thames Trains franchise. On 4 November 2003 the Strategic Rail Authority awarded the franchise to First and the services operated by Thames Trains transferred to First Great Western Link on 1 April 2004.
First Great Western Link ran passenger services from along the Great Western Main Line from London Paddington to Greenford, Windsor & Eton Central, Marlow, Henley, Reading, Bedwyn, Oxford, Bicester Town, Worcester, Hereford and Stratford-upon-Avon and the Reading to Basingstoke and Gatwick Airport services.
- Great Western Main Line (Local services between London Paddington and Didcot Parkway).
- Cherwell Valley Line (Didcot Parkway - Oxford)
- Cotswold Line (Oxford - Hereford)
- North Downs Line (Reading - Redhill)
- Reading to Plymouth Line (Reading - Bedwyn)
- Reading to Basingstoke Line (Reading - Basingstoke)
- Slough to Windsor & Eton Line (Slough - Windsor and Eton Central)
- Oxford to Bicester Line (Oxford - Bicester Town)
- Marlow Branch Line (Maidenhead - Marlow)
- Henley Branch Line (Twyford railway station - Henley-on-Thames)
- Greenford Branch Line (London Paddington - Greenford)
First Great Western Link inherited a fleet of Class 165 and Class 166s from Thames Trains. A franchise commitment was to use five Class 180 Adelantes from sister company First Great Western on Cotswold Line services from December 2004 releasing five Class 165 for transfer to Chiltern Railways.
|Class 165/1 Network Turbo||diesel multiple unit||90||145||36||1990-1992|
|Class 166 Network Express Turbo||diesel multiple unit||90||145||21||1992-1993|
First Great Western Link's fleet was maintained at Reading depot.
On 6 November 2002 as part of a franchise reorganisation by the Strategic Rail Authority, it was announced that the Great Western, Thames Trains and Wessex Trains franchises would be combined to form the Greater Western franchise. This was part of a Strategic Rail Authority strategy to reduce the number of train operating companies providing services from a single London terminal. This was expected to improve efficiency and reliability.
On 13 December 2005 the Department for Transport awarded the new Greater Western franchise to First with the services operated by First Great Western Link transferring to First Great Western on 1 April 2006.
- Companies House extract company 4804687 First Great Western Link Limited
- Strategic Rail Authority (4 November 2003). "Preferred Bidder Announced for New Thames Trains Franchise" (Press release). Archived from the original on 2 December 2003.
- Rail Magazine. No. 474. 12 November 2003. Missing or empty
- "Heathrow Connect". Always Touch Out. 12 June 2005. Archived from the original on 7 August 2007.
- Rail Magazine. No. 478. 7 January 2004. p. 13. Missing or empty
- SRA Announces New Franchise for the West Strategic Rail Authority Press Release 6 November 2002
- "Greater Western Franchise" (Invitation to tender). Department for Transport. 2 February 2006.