COMMUTERS can expect almost 3,000 more standard class seats on First Great Western services each day in and out of London by late summer 2015.

The train operator plans to convert its existing first class carriages in order to accommodate more passengers looking to pay a standard rate for their travel.

First Great Western (FGW) last week reached an agreement with the Department for Transport, which will fund the programme to provide additional standard class seats.

The thousands of extra seats will be implemented across the network and deliver 16 per cent more standard class accommodation on high speed services into London during peak times.

This is on top of an increase in peak-time seats delivered by the company in the summer of 2012, through the rebuilding and upgrading of disused buffet cars to create additional seats.

FGW managing director Mark Hopwood said: “We know that, ultimately, the only long-term solution to busy services is more trains.

“New Intercity Express trains are on their way, however, it is still some time before they will be ready for service.

“The conversion of these carriages to create more standard class seating is crucial in the interim period.”

A standard carriage contains 80 seats – 32 more than a first class carriage. Currently, FGW’s high-speed trains are made up of either six standard and two first class carriages, or five standard and 2.5 first class carriages.

After the conversion there will still be one and a half first class carriages per train.

As well as an increase in standard class seats, there will be an update to existing first class accommodation.

In one-and-a-half carriages per train there will be a realignment of single seats, installation of privacy screens, more comfortable headrests, re-covered seats, new carpets and other changes to improve the first-class experience.

The first completed carriages are expected to be running in June 2014, with the entire fleet completed by late summer 2015.

The programme to provide additional standard class seats is being funded by the Department for Transport, while the changes to first class accommodation are being funded by First Great Western.