NEW trains and electrified rails has 'cemented Didcot's role as a regional hub for Oxfordshire', according to a council chief.

John Cotton, the leader of South Oxfordshire District Council said the introduction of new, bigger 'Electrostar' trains on to the tracks at Didcot will be a 'big boost' for the area.

Great Western Railway has operated the new fleet of trains, which boast more seats and tables, from Didcot Parkway since January 2.

But the introduction has been soured by delays and the largest fare rise in five years.

Mr Cotton said: "Anything that can bring us an easier journey into work is a good thing.

"Supporting movement around the region will also bring real benefits for our economy as businesses find it easier to operate and people get on to public transport and off the roads.

"The new electrified services are a big improvement from what we had before.

"As a council, we are trying to create a place where it's easier for people to live and work near to each other without having to regularly cover long distances.

"But people will always need to travel further and having services like this will make it easier to do that.

"It is a big boost for the town and increases its important role in the region."

The new trains entered service after Network Rail finished electrifying the line from Maidenhead to Didcot as part of a wider modernisation project.

The electrification had been planned to stretch as far as Oxford but this work has been put on hold.

One of the first of the new trains to operate, the 8.10 from Didcot Parkway to London on January 2, was cancelled on the first day of operations.

There were further problems last Thursday when an electricity supply failure disrupted services between Didcot Parkway and London Paddington throughout the morning.

Commuters also faced price rises on their first day back at work after the New Year with a season ticket from Didcot to London now topping £5,000 for the first time.

Great Western Railway said the increased ticket prices would help to pay for the new services.

It's managing director, Mark Hopwood called the changes 'the most significant series of improvements for rail passengers in a generation.'

Mr Cotton said: "It is important the services are competitively priced.

"It is the responsibility of the operators who run the trains to not price them so highly that it puts people off using them."