First Great Western Train London (Paddington)-Cheltenham Spa First Class – Review

By Jonathan Spira on 4 April 2014
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Most travelers think of the Heathrow Express when it comes to London Paddington Station, but Paddington, as most Londoners call it, is an historic terminal that has served the Great Western Railway and its successors since 1838.  The current station dates from 1854 and is notable as having been, in 1863, the western terminus of the Metropolitan Railway, the world’s first subway,.

First Great Western is the descendant of the Great Western Railway, founded in 1835. It operates high-speed trains between London Paddington, the Cotswolds, South Wales, and the West Country in addition to a variety of commuter rail trains.

I arrived at Paddington about 35 minutes prior to departure, more than enough time to pick up my ticket, which I booked online, and then visit the first-class lounge.


The lounge itself showed pretensions of grandeur, with a red carpet and velvet ropes at the main entrance.  Inside was a more modest affair, with a variety of comfortable chairs, a work area, snacks and drinks, and what I was told was very slow but free Wi-Fi.  Given that the Internet service required setting up an account, I instead opted for my portable hotspot from Xcom Global.


The agent in the lounge was not sure where my train was boarding from and, at first, told me platform 2.  When I pointed to the digital display above his head to my train, he just nodded when I said Platform 1. Indeed, the first-class carriages were in the middle and almost directly opposite the first-class lounge. Boarding was not announced in the lounge and I left a few minutes prior to 9:36 and was quickly aboard.

Soon the train was underway and I was off to my first trip to the English countryside since I was a wee lad travelling with my parents.

Click here to continue to Page 2The Journey, Seat Comfort, and Dining

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