A first-generation franchise from 1996 providing suburban and regional services from London Paddington to the Thames Valley and parts of the West of England.
Victory Railway Holdings was formed as a joint venture to bid for the franchise in 1996 (Go-Ahead Group, 65%: Thames Trains management/staff, 35%).
OPRAF gave conditional approval of the purchase by Go-Ahead of the shares held by staff on 26 March 1998 (confirmed 5 June 1998), and Thames Trains then became a wholly-owned subsidiary of Go-Ahead Group.
On 19 December 2001 the Strategic Rail Authority indicated that the Thames Trains contract could be extended by two years and then be ‘grouped with Great Western for replacement in 2006’. An SRA consultation on combining franchises followed on 12 March 2002, partly with the intention of reducing the number of operators at London termini. This again signalled a possible grouping of Thames Trains and Great Western, and confirmation of the creation of a new Greater Western franchise followed on 6 November 2002.
The SRA announced on 10 April 2003 that Go-Ahead and FirstGroup were being invited to bid for a two-year contract for Thames Trains, which would bridge the gap until the Greater Western contract could take over in 2006. FirstGroup was confirmed as preferred bidder for this new contract on 4 November 2003.
13 October 1996
1 April 2004
Victory Railway Holdings/Go-Ahead Group
Thames Trains Ltd
Outer London suburban and regional services. London Paddington-Slough-Reading–Basingstoke/Guildford-Gatwick Airport/Newbury-Bedwyn/Didcot Parkway-Oxford-Bicester Town/Leamington Spa-Stratford-upon-Avon/Worcester-Hereford. Oxford-Didcot Parkway-Bath-Bristol. Thames Valley branch lines to Henley, Marlow, Windsor & Eton Central, Greenford.
Thames Trains TOU
was replaced by
Great Western Link