Electric train: GWR Class 387 No 387132 at Maidenhead with the 07.42 to Paddington on 22 May 2017, the first day of the new EMU service to London.
Russell Wykes

GREAT WESTERN Railway has introduced its Class 387 Electrostar EMUs on services between London Paddington and Maidenhead.

Three eight-car workings were planned for introduction at peak periods, but power supply issues meant only two EMU diagrams operated for the first few days, with the third covered by a Turbo DMU. The first three diagrams are due to be supplemented by a further three eight-car diagrams in July; full service is planned to follow in September, and GWR says this will deliver a 40% increase in seating capacity in the Thames Valley. Extension of EMU operation west to Reading and Didcot Parkway is due to take place in January 2018.

GWR has ordered a total of 45x4-car Class 387s from Bombardier, financed by Porterbrook. It first introduced the ‘387s’ on shuttle services between Paddington and Hayes & Harlington in January. Eventually they will operate in 12-car formations.

The ‘387s’ replace Class 165/166 Turbo DMUs, some of which will be moving to Bristol as part of a fleetwide cascade. The first Turbos are due to be introduced on the Severn Beach line from 3 July, replacing the Sprinters currently used.

Electrification of the Great Western main line between Airport Junction and Maidenhead has been completed as part of Network Rail’s programme of surface works for Crossrail. The work has seen 1,400 overhead structures and 225km of new wiring installed over the 12-mile stretch. Resignalling, lowering of track and the rebuilding of five bridges has also taken place. Wiring further west to Reading and Didcot falls under the separate Great Western electrification programme.

The introduction of EMUs to Maidenhead means through trains from the Marlow branch to Paddington are withdrawn. However, GWR says improved connections will be available at Maidenhead, while the operator has also boosted Henley branch services to half-hourly seven days a week.