GREAT WESTERN Railway (GWR) is expanding seating on key routes from today, following the electrification of core rail lines.

From January 2, the railway operator is introducing over 8,000 extra seats across its network. This includes 4,800 additional seats on trains to and from London Paddington during peak times, representing a 10 per cent increase.

Throughout London and the Thames Valley, GWR's fleet of new Electrostar trains will replace most of the ageing, 25-year-old trains currently running in the region. Commuters will also benefit from free Wi-Fi and more accessible toilets.

GWR's managing director, Mark Hopwood, said today marked "a massive step towards delivering the capacity improvements we have promised, and the most significant series of improvements for rail passengers in a generation".

He added: "Electric trains will run under the wires between Didcot and London for the first time, delivering real improvements for our passengers in London and the Thames Valley and enabling us to make further improvements throughout our network, supporting the communities we serve."

Mark Langham, managing director for Network Rail Western, said: "This will boost local communities and provide a better service for passengers travelling in Didcot, Reading, across the Thames Valley and west London."