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First Great Western Link[1] was a train operating company in the United Kingdom owned by FirstGroup that operated the Thames Trains franchise from April 2004 until March 2006.

First Great Western Link
166217 at Reading.JPG
1 April 2004 – 31 March 2006
Main region(s)Thames Valley
Other region(s)North Downs, Cotswolds
Fleet size62
Stations called at95
National Rail abbreviationFK
Parent companyFirstGroup



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.[2][3]

On 12 June 2005 Heathrow Connect was introduced as a joint venture between First Great Western Link and BAA.[4]


Rolling stockEdit

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[5] releasing five Class 165 for transfer to Chiltern Railways.

Class Image Type Top speed Number Built
mph km/h
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.[6]

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.[7]


  1. ^ Companies House extract company 4804687 First Great Western Link Limited
  2. ^ Strategic Rail Authority (4 November 2003). "Preferred Bidder Announced for New Thames Trains Franchise" (Press release). Archived from the original on 2 December 2003.
  3. ^ Rail Magazine. No. 474. 12 November 2003. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  4. ^ "Heathrow Connect". Always Touch Out. 12 June 2005. Archived from the original on 7 August 2007.
  5. ^ Rail Magazine. No. 478. 7 January 2004. p. 13. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  6. ^ SRA Announces New Franchise for the West Strategic Rail Authority Press Release 6 November 2002
  7. ^ "Greater Western Franchise" (Invitation to tender). Department for Transport. 2 February 2006.

External linksEdit

Preceded by
Thames Trains
Operator of Thames franchise
2004 - 2006
Succeeded by
First Great Western
Greater Western franchise