13 October 1996 – 31 March 2004
|Main region(s)||Thames Valley|
|Other region(s)||West Midlands, Cotswolds and North Downs|
|Fleet size||57 (March 2004)|
|Stations called at||Similar number to that of|
First Great Western Link
|National Rail abbreviation||TT|
|Parent company||Go-Ahead Group|
The Thames Trains franchise was awarded by the Director of Passenger Rail Franchising to Victory Rail Holdings, a company owned by Go-Ahead (65%) and some ex British Rail managers (35%), with operations commencing on 13 October 1996. Go-Ahead bought the remaining shares it didn't own in June 1998.
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.
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. Upon the warranty expiring, a new livery was introduced in 2000.
|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|
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. 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.
- Companies House extract company no 3007943 Thames Trains Limited
- Companies House extract company no 3147927 Victory Rail Holdings Limited
- Go-Ahead annual report 1997 Archived 23 November 2012 at the Wayback Machine Go-Ahead Group plc 28 June 1997
- Go-Ahead Group buy out Thames Trains Today's Railways UK issue 29 May 1998 page 8
- Go-Ahead annual report 1998 Archived 23 November 2012 at the Wayback Machine Go-Ahead Group plc 27 June 1998
- Route Information Thames Trains
- New Oxford to Bristol service Rail Express issue 22 March 1998 page 7
- First direct Oxford-Bristol service starts Rail issue 335 15 July 1998 page 18
- New livery logo for Thames Trains revealed Rail issue 317 5 November 1997 page 13
- New image for Thames Trains Rail Express issue 19 December 1997 page 8
- Thames Trains unveils a new livery for its Turbos Rail issue 390 23 August 2000 page 15
- Go-Ahead facing Thames tussle Evening Standard 10 April 2003
- SRA invites First Group to bid for Thames extension Rail issue 460 30 April 2003 page 11
- "Preferred Bidder Announced for New Thames Trains Franchise". Sra.gov.uk. 2 December 2003. Archived from the original on 2 December 2003. Retrieved 22 September 2012.
- Go-Ahead loses Thames Trains as SRA hands franchise to First Rail issue 474 12 November 2003 page 26
Media related to Thames Trains at Wikimedia Commons
As part of British Rail
| Operator of Thames franchise
1996 - 2004
First Great Western Link