First Great Western has announced that it will begin a formal timetable consultation on proposed changes to rail services to Devon and Cornwall.

response to customer and stakeholder demand.

First Great Western Managing Director Mark Hopwood said: “After the tough times in recent weeks, First Great Western has been considering how it can improve the train service between London and key destinations in Devon and Cornwall.

"Working with Network Rail and the Department for Transport we have developed proposals that could deliver improvements from December 2014 onwards.”

The current 0706 Paddington to Paignton service would run to Plymouth and key stations in Cornwall; achieving around a 40 minute earlier arrival than today’s first London train at Totnes (1007), Plymouth (1035) and through to Penzance (1237).

The present 0730 service from London Paddington to Penzance would run to Paignton via Bristol, retaining London connectivity, but with the added advantage of improved connectivity from South Wales and Bristol to Torbay. Torbay and Exeter would gain a 19 minute journey time improvement, with the present 1106 Paignton-London train leaving later and still arriving in London Paddington at 1454.

From Cornwall, high speed services to London would be more evenly spread through the day. New journey opportunities would be created by the introduction of a 11.33 Paddington to Exeter service and a 14.53 Exeter to London service.

There would be a number of consequential changes to local services in Devon and Cornwall.

In advance of this consultation FGW has announced that it has reached agreement with DfT on a number of timetable changes that it will be introducing in May. These changes will "provide for additional strengthening of services across the West of England in the summer".

Features include more capacity on the Cornish and Devon branches and use of a loco-hauled train between Par and Exeter on summer Saturdays.