UK rail operator Great Western Railway's first Intercity Express Train has begun operating in the country.

UK Transport Secretary Chris Grayling travelled from Bristol Temple Meads to London Paddington during the service's inaugural journey, accompanied by Great Western Railway officials and commuters.

The entire £5.7bn Intercity Express fleet of 57 Class 800 trains is currently under construction at Hitachi Rail Europe’s manufacturing facility in Newton Aycliffe, County Durham.

The fleet is expected to enter service in the next three years and will operate along the Great Western and East Coast lines.

Chris Grayling said: “These new state-of-the-art trains show our commitment to put passengers at the heart of everything that we do and will carry people across Britain, from Swansea to Aberdeen and London to Inverness.

"These new state-of-the-art trains show our commitment to put passengers at the heart of everything that we do and will carry people across Britain."

“Our railways are a huge success but passengers rightly expect improved services and better trains, and only last week I announced another £48bn for the network from 2019 that will focus on better maintenance to dramatically improve reliability.”

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By GlobalData

The new trains will replace the old Intercity network's 125 fleet, which was originally introduced in 1976.

The Intercity Express Programme (IEP) is funded by Agility Trains and aims to bring together rail operators and manufacturers such as Hitachi Rail, GWR, Virgin Trains East Coast and Network Rail to develop new trains and refurbish rail infrastructure along the Great Western and East Coast routes.

GWR managing director Mark Hopwood said: “I am delighted to have this first train in passenger service.

“Over the next year we will continue to expand the operation of these new trains, including the introduction of another fleet specific to Devon and Cornwall.”