Thames Trains

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Thames Trains
Evesham railway station - - 40286.jpg
Franchise(s)Thames Trains
13 October 1996 – 31 March 2004
Main region(s)Thames Valley
Other region(s)West Midlands, Cotswolds and North Downs
Fleet size57 (March 2004)
Stations called atSimilar number to that of
First Great Western Link
National Rail abbreviationTT
Parent companyGo-Ahead Group

Thames Trains[1] was a train operating company in the United Kingdom owned by Go-Ahead that operated the Thames Trains franchise from October 1996 until March 2004.


The Thames Trains franchise was awarded by the Director of Passenger Rail Franchising to Victory Rail Holdings,[2] a company owned by Go-Ahead (65%) and some ex British Rail managers (35%), with operations commencing on 13 October 1996.[3] Go-Ahead bought the remaining shares it didn't own in June 1998.[4][5]

The major incident in the history of this franchise was the Ladbroke Grove rail crash which claimed 31 lives and injured 500.


Thames Trains ran services along the Great Western Main Line from London Paddington to Didcot with services continuing to north to Oxford, Bicester Town, Hereford and Stratford-upon-Avon. It also operated services on the Greenford, Windsor & Eton Central, Marlow, Henley and Bedwyn lines and on the Reading to Basingstoke and North Downs lines.[6]

In 1998 a service from Oxford to Bristol was introduced in partnership with First Great Western.[7][8] This was withdrawn in 2003 at the request of the Strategic Rail Authority to relieve congestion.

Rolling stock[edit]

A Class 166 Thames Turbo Express unit at Oxford.
A Class 166 at Stratford-upon-Avon in 2002.
Pictures of various Thames Trains Thames Turbo/Turbo Express interiors and a cab shot are from 2000 to 2004 are of the following parts - (clockwise, from top left) 1st class, the driver's cab, 2nd class Class 166 seats and 2nd class Class 165 seats.

Thames Trains inherited a fleet of near new Class 165s and 166s from British Rail. Because the paintwork was still under warranty, the existing Network SouthEast livery was retained with only a Thames Trains logo added.[9][10] Upon the warranty expiring, a new livery was introduced in 2000.[11]

Class Image Type Top speed Number Built
mph km/h
Class 165/1 Network Turbo Reading Thames Turbo 165 class 2002.png diesel multiple unit 90 145 36 1990-1992
Class 166 Network Express Turbo Evesham railway station - - 40286.jpg diesel multiple unit 90 145 21 1992-1993


Thames Trains' fleet was maintained at Reading TMD.


In April 2003 the Strategic Rail Authority invited FirstGroup and Go-Ahead to bid for a two-year franchise that would coincide with the end date of the First Great Western franchise, after which both would become part of the Greater Western franchise.[12][13] In November 2003 the Strategic Rail Authority awarded the new franchise to First with the services operated by Thames Trains transferring to First Great Western Link on 1 April 2004.[14][15]


  1. ^ Companies House extract company no 3007943 Thames Trains Limited
  2. ^ Companies House extract company no 3147927 Victory Rail Holdings Limited
  3. ^ Go-Ahead annual report 1997 Archived 23 November 2012 at the Wayback Machine Go-Ahead Group plc 28 June 1997
  4. ^ Go-Ahead Group buy out Thames Trains Today's Railways UK issue 29 May 1998 page 8
  5. ^ Go-Ahead annual report 1998 Archived 23 November 2012 at the Wayback Machine Go-Ahead Group plc 27 June 1998
  6. ^ Route Information Thames Trains
  7. ^ New Oxford to Bristol service Rail Express issue 22 March 1998 page 7
  8. ^ First direct Oxford-Bristol service starts Rail issue 335 15 July 1998 page 18
  9. ^ New livery logo for Thames Trains revealed Rail issue 317 5 November 1997 page 13
  10. ^ New image for Thames Trains Rail Express issue 19 December 1997 page 8
  11. ^ Thames Trains unveils a new livery for its Turbos Rail issue 390 23 August 2000 page 15
  12. ^ Go-Ahead facing Thames tussle Evening Standard 10 April 2003
  13. ^ SRA invites First Group to bid for Thames extension Rail issue 460 30 April 2003 page 11
  14. ^ "Preferred Bidder Announced for New Thames Trains Franchise". 2 December 2003. Archived from the original on 2 December 2003. Retrieved 22 September 2012.
  15. ^ Go-Ahead loses Thames Trains as SRA hands franchise to First Rail issue 474 12 November 2003 page 26

External links[edit]

Media related to Thames Trains at Wikimedia Commons

Preceded by
Network SouthEast
As part of British Rail
Operator of Thames franchise
1996 - 2004
Succeeded by
First Great Western Link