AFTERNOON train services between the Malvern/Worcester area and London Paddington are set to be improved when First Great Western unveils its new timetable later this year.

The train operating company says new train services are being provided to ease overcrowding, especially on one mid-afternoon service, which leaves London for Worcester at 3.52pm.

Among the improvements are extending the 3.22pm from Paddington, which currently only runs as far as Oxford, all the way to Great Malvern.

The existing 3.52pm service will now be terminated at Moreton, but the current 4.22pm from London to Oxford will be extended to Great Malvern, replacing the current 5.15pm from Didcot to Great Malvern west of Oxford, so passengers will no longer need to change trains at Oxford.

With the 3.52pm now finishing at Moreton, there will also be a new 5.32pm service from Moreton to London, which will run non-stop from Moreton to Oxford.

And a new late-night service will leave Paddington at 11.18pm, reaching Moreton at 1.15am. If it proves popular, there is the possibility that it will be extended as far as Worcester.

John Ellis, chairman of the Cotswold Line Promotion Group, said he welcomed the changes.

He said: "The group is very much supportive of these proposals. They will give the services out of London in the afternoon much greater regularity and and improve the situation considerably.

"We're strongly of the view that there should be hourly services from London to Worcestershire, and these proposals go a considerable way towards achieving that aim."

A First Great Western spokesman said: "These changes see additional services, extensions to existing services and longer trains on key services, which will improve the number of seats available for customers on this route.

"This follows the successful introduction of Advance Purchase fares on the route earlier this year, which has helped this line grow at twice the rate of other long distance routes on our network."