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Wessex Trains[1] was a train operating company in the United Kingdom owned by National Express that operated the Wessex Trains franchise from October 2001 until March 2006, when the franchise was merged with the Great Western and Thames Valley franchises to form the Greater Western franchise.

Wessex Trains
Wessex trains logo.svg
158869 at Truro.JPG
14 October 2001 - 31 March 2006
Main region(s)South West England
Other region(s)South East England, South Wales
Fleet size70
Stations called at161
Stations operated125
National Rail abbreviationWE
Parent companyNational Express
A Wessex Trains Class 153
A Class 150 unit in West Country advertising livery. Many of these units were named after local attractions.
A class 143 in Advertising vinyls for the City of Bristol


In October 1996, Wales & West commenced operating the South West & Wales franchise in Wales and the West Country. It also operated services to Liverpool Lime Street, Manchester Piccadilly, Birmingham International, Southampton Central, Brighton and London Waterloo.

In 2001 the Strategic Rail Authority decided to re-organise the Valley Lines and Wales & West franchises, both being operated by National Express. Wales & West became Wessex Trains from October 2001.

Wessex Trains retained the West Country services with the Welsh services transferred to Wales & Borders although Wessex Trains operated services to Cardiff.


Wessex Trains ran the majority of local trains in the South West as seen in their route map.[2]

Services ran from Great Malvern and Cardiff to Brighton, Portsmouth, Weymouth and Penzance and on these secondary lines:

Rolling stockEdit

Wessex Trains inherited a fleet of Class 143, Class 150, Class 153 and Class 158s from Wales & West.

Wessex Trains leased Class 31s from Fragonset to haul a set of Mark 2 carriages from 2002 on services from Cardiff and Bristol Temple Meads to Brighton and Weymouth.[3]

Class Image Type Top speed Number Built
mph km/h
Class 143 Pacer   Diesel multiple unit 75 120 8 (one scrapped due to fire at Flax Bourton fleet reduced to 7) 1985–86
Class 150 Sprinter   25 1984–87
Class 153 Super Sprinter   13 1987–88
Class 158 Express Sprinter   90 145 12 1989–92
Mark 2 carriage   Passenger Carriage 100 160 5 1969–75


Wessex Trains' fleet was maintained at Cardiff Canton and Exeter depots.


In 2002 as part of a franchise re-organisation 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 London terminal stations.[4]

Originally it was planned for Wessex Trains to take over the diesel services from Exeter St Davids to London Waterloo on the West of England Main Line operated by the South West Trains as part of the South Western franchise.

On 13 December 2005 the Department for Transport awarded the Greater Western franchise to FirstGroup and the services operated by Wessex Trains transferred to First Great Western on 1 April 2006.[5]


  1. ^ Companies House extract company no 3011029 Wales & West Passenger Trains Limited
  2. ^ Wessex Trains route map
  3. ^ Rail Magazine Issue 458 2 April 2003 Page 49
  4. ^ SRA Announces New Franchise for West Strategic Rail Authority Press Release 6 November 2002
  5. ^ "Greater Western Franchise - Invitation to tender". Department for Transport. 2 February 2006. Archived from the original on 7 November 2012.

External linksEdit

Preceded by
Wales & West
Wales & West franchise
Operator of Wessex franchise
Succeeded by
Great Western Railway
Greater Western franchise