Wessex Trains used their fleet primarily on commuter services around Bristol, although towards the end of the franchises they were increasingly on longer distance Cardiff to Taunton services. They were occasionally used on rural branch lines but this was generally avoided where possible due to problems with wheel wear and the noise on sharp corners.
First Great Western inherited the seven Wessex Trains units when the franchises were merged in April 2006. An eighth set used by Wessex Trains (143613) caught fire near Nailsea and Backwell in October 2004 and was scrapped.
In Autumn 2008, the Class 143s began a further refurbishment program at Eastleigh works; the interior improvements include:
- New 'easy to clean' flooring
- A retrim of the existing Chapman seats with First Great Western moquette
- Refurbished toilet area with new flooring, wall coverings, toilet and sink basin
- Brighter interior saloon fluorescent lighting diffusers
Since December 2008 the Class 143s are based at Exeter TMD alongside seven similar Class 142s. They are now allocated to the following services:
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—Mark Twain [Samuel Langhorne Clemens] (18351910)
“The Westerly Wind asserting his sway from the south-west quarter is often like a monarch gone mad, driving forth with wild imprecations the most faithful of his courtiers to shipwreck, disaster, and death.”
—Joseph Conrad (18571924)