A TIMETABLE overhaul of Swindon rail services will see commuters able to get to London in just 53 minutes.

And businesses are expected to benefit once the new timetable for the Great Western line is put in place as the culmination of a £6 billion electrification project.

Switch On To Swindon head Jenny Groves said: “We are looking forward to the new timetable and I’m absolutely sure it will be provide great opportunities for Swindon firms to do business and attract new talent to come and work with them.”

A spokesman for Business West said: “Generally speaking, businesses will welcome faster connectivity to London, despite electrification bringing only modest improvements in average journey times.

“Whilst welcome, perhaps of greater concern are rising fares and new routes from Swindon.

“Fares are still a major issue for businesses and residents, putting pressure on businesses to increase wages, increasing the cost of doing business and deterring visitors. Businesses also tell us that expansion of inter-city connections, rather than improving existing routes, should be a priority.

“Extending the Cambridge-Oxford expressway to Swindon would be a boost for the town’s burgeoning high-tech sector that would be welcomed by the business community.”

A Network Rail spokesman said: “This will be the biggest transformation to the rail timetable in a generation so this is good news for towns and cities along the line because journeys could be significantly quicker.

“The new electric infrastructure and trains are all ready but the new journeys will not be introduced until the new timetable arrives on December 15.

“There is currently one new 53-minute route from Swindon to London Paddington, which is faster than before. Before unveiling the timetable, Great Western Railway will let us know what times they want to run and what trains to use, then we will have to fit them all in.”

A GWR spokesman would not comment on new journey time specifics, though when the high-speed electric trains first pulled into Swindon station last November, Swindon Borough Council’s cabinet member for transport Coun Maureen Penny estimated that trips to London could be as quick as 45 minutes.

New Hitachi electric trains will run between Didcot Parkway and Swindon. It is expected the hybrid-fuel trains will run on overhead wires from Swindon to Bristol Parkway later this year.