For our family trip to London we decided to travel GWR first class to London Paddington especially as it was going to be very busy with Christmas. It was our first journey in GWR first class since their multi million pound rebrand from First Great Western to GWR which the company hopes will help transform the railway to its former glory. As part of this investment GWR also transformed their trains with new seats and facilities.
As you enter the first class carriage the difference in comfort and facilities compared to standard class is evident. It’s a much quieter and less crowded carriage, so for a long journey to London with children it was perfect. There are just eight rows of seats in each first-class carriage, with single seats down one side & two seats either side of a table on the other side.
The GWR logo has been tastefully added to the sliding doors and at the wall partition at the end of each carriage, and a new smart carpet runs through the train.
We were impressed by the new first class seats. The reclining seats were very comfortable and spacious with plenty of leg room. The seats have been reupholstered in smart grey leather, with the GWR logo sewn into the headrests against a green background.
Our journey to London was very comfortable and there was lots of space for all passengers without us encroaching on each other’s space. The toilets in the first class section were very clean especially when compared to standard class which can be filthy toward the end of your journey.
New tables have also been part of this revamp with two power sockets and two USB charging points at each seat. This together with the free WIFI on-board offers a great travelling environment for the business and leisure traveller. However on our train the power sockets and the WIFI were not working which was very disappointing.
First class customers receive complimentary refreshments throughout your journey, but there was no at-seat service on our train which resulted in us having to go to the on-board express cafe to order and collect our refreshments.
This was great however with a good choice of options on board such as tea / coffee, cold drinks, and snacks including crisps, pretzels, nuts, biscuits and a selection of cakes. On our weekend journey there were also no complimentary newspapers. During the week passengers receive a complimentary copy of the Times newspaper.
Our journey to London was comfortable but it did take 90 minutes longer to get into Paddington because of planned engineering works. However because of the relative calm, space and comfort of the 1st class carriage the journey did seem to go quicker than our 4 hour journey.
GWR first class offers a vast improvement over their standard class carriages, and was a much more relaxing and comfortable journey and without the hassle of driving into London.
Is it worth the extra cost?
Is first class worth the extra cost over a standard ticket? A first class ticket is much more expensive than standard class, typically over double the cost even if you book 12 weeks in advance, so I’d say it isn’t worth it.
However on weekends, GWR offer standard class passengers the chance of first class travel for a small premium. Depending on the route taken, the upgrade fee varies, as our journey crossed four zones the upgrade cost was just £25 per person, which I thought was fantastic value.