A NEW Great Western Railway timetable for the Thames Valley has been made public for the first time.

The new schedule will start in December, offering faster journey times and more frequent services to key locations.

Regular users are being asked to check their new journey times ahead of the biggest timetable change on the network since 1976.

Half (50 per cent) of GWR's stopping services between Reading and London Paddington will be transferred to Transport for London Rail from Sunday, December 15.

GWR will continue to operate services between Reading and London Paddington calling at intermediate station stops, with many extending to Didcot and being formed of 12 carriage Class 387 electric trains in the evening peak where they are needed most.

These will dovetail with TfL’s stopping services to provide an improved overall service with significant extra capacity on the Reading to Paddington corridor.

Paul Britton, chief executive of the Thames Valley Chamber of Commerce, said: "An extra 10,000 seats in the morning peak into London Paddington is great news for businesses in the Thames Valley and London.

"Updated technology, new facilities and reduced journey times for business travellers and commuters will allow them to use their time more effectively."

On the popular Reading to Newbury route, passengers will benefit from an increase to three trains an hour, journey time improvements of around five minutes, and a more consistent service throughout the day with up to two fast services an hour running through to London Paddington.

New Intercity Express Trains already operating between Reading and London Paddington will also see journey time improvements.

GWR managing director Mark Hopwood said: "It's just 12 weeks until Sunday, December 15, and we have been working hard behind the scenes to prepare to implement the biggest timetable change on this network since 1976, enabling us to take advantage of the full benefits that new Intercity Express Trains are bringing.

"In providing more frequent and quicker journeys, our new timetable will for the vast majority of users quite literally mean 'all change please' and we are pleased the new timetable has now been published."

Those travelling between Reading and Basingstoke will be able to take advantage of a third train an hour at peak times, adding approximate 250 more seats at the busiest times.

Mike Gallop, route managing director for Network Rail, said: "The timetable change this December will be the biggest since 1976 and will mean faster journeys and more frequent services for passengers.

"It follows unprecedented investment in railway infrastructure including electrification, improved signalling, upgraded stations and much more which together with the introduction of new trains will transform rail travel."

The planned improvements are so significant, particularly for those who travel regularly and used to catching a particular service every day, that GWR is launching an awareness campaign to highlight the changes ahead, and make sure customers are prepared.

The timetable will come into effect from December 15.