Chiltern Railways

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Image:Chiltern railways logo.gif
Image:Chiltern train at Kidderminster.jpg
Franchise(s): Chiltern
1996 – 2002
2002 – 2022
Main route(s): Chiltern Main Line
Other route(s): London to Aylesbury Line
Princes Risborough to Aylesbury Line
Leamington to Stratford Line
Fleet size: 39 Class 165 Turbo sets
19 Class 168 Clubman sets
1 Class 121 ‘Bubble Car’
Stations: 60
Parent company: Laing Rail
Web site:

Chiltern Railways is a train operating company in England. It was formed by the privatisation of British Rail in 1996 and it operates train mainline services from Marylebone station in London, to Aylesbury and Birmingham Snow Hill. Initially the line was franchised to a company formed by the British Rail managers of the route, but since 2003 has been a wholly owned subsidiary of Laing Rail, who owned a much smaller shareholding at privatisation. In 2002 a new 20 year franchise began which promises significant investment in the route.

Going by the "peak time" punctuality statistics published by the Strategic Rail Authority, they are the 5th most punctual train operating company.


[edit] Routes

Chiltern operate services on four routes.

The London to Birmingham route used by Chiltern Railways goes via High Wycombe, Bicester, Banbury, Leamington Spa, Warwick and Solihull. The line to Aylesbury via Amersham shares tracks with London Underground's Metropolitan Line between Harrow-on-the-Hill and Amersham.

Some trains continue beyond Birmingham Snow Hill station to Stourbridge or Kidderminster, where the preserved steam Severn Valley Railway starts at the adjacent Kidderminster station. On certain Bank Holiday Mondays services are extended from Aylesbury to the Buckinghamshire Railway Heritage Centre facilities at Quainton Road, a short way south of Verney Junction. These services are often run by Chiltern's Class 121 diesel multiple unit, referred to as a "bubble car".

Image:121020 at Bewdley.JPG
Chiltern Railways operate a single Class 121 "Bubble Car" on Aylesbury to Princes Risborough shuttles.

A shuttle service operates on the branch line from Aylesbury to Princes Risborough on the line to Birmingham via High Wycombe. Certain services from Marylebone via High Wycombe also provide a limited through service to Aylesbury.

Chiltern Railways also recently took over operations on the Leamington Spa to Stratford-upon-Avon branch line.

[edit] Services

The "core" off-peak Chiltern Railways timetable currently comprises the following services:

In addition, Chiltern Railways runs one train a day to and from London Paddington to keep traincrew route knowledge up-to-date, as the route is regularly used for diversions during periods of Engineering Work, and one train a day from Birmingham Snow Hill to Oxford.

It should be noted that the core timetable will be subject to alteration when the two new platforms at London Marylebone and additional signalling throughout the route, being installed as part of Chiltern's "Evergreen 2" project, are fully commissioned in December 2006.

[edit] Rolling Stock

Chiltern Railways operates services using a modern fleet of Class 165 "Turbo" and 168 "Clubman" units. The "Turbo" units have undergone refurbishment work at Bombardier's Ilford Works, and the Class 168s have recently been lengthened. Chiltern also operates a single Class 121 "Bubble Car" on its Aylesbury to Princes Risborough heritage route. This unit was extensively refurbished, and operates the majority of the services on the line.

As well as the passenger rolling stock, Chiltern have a number of additional former Class 121 units, in a range of liveries, which are used for things such as route learning, Sandite duties, towing failed trains and test trains. In addition, they have a Class 960, formerly Class 117 unit 117 308, which has been converted for use as a water-cannon unit, and is used in conjunction with the Sandite units.

[edit] Current fleet

Class Image Type Top speed Number Routes operated Built
mph km/h
Class 121 ‘Bubble Car’ Image:121020 at Bewdley.JPG diesel multiple unit 70 112 1 Aylesbury - Princes Risborough 1960
Class 165 Turbo diesel multiple unit 75 120 39 Chiltern Main Line 1990 - 1992
Class 168 Clubman Image:Chiltern train at Kidderminster.jpg diesel multiple unit 100 160 19 Chiltern Main Line 1997 - 2003

[edit] Gerrards Cross incident

A tunnel being constructed near the Gerrards Cross railway station to enable the construction of a new Tesco store collapsed at 19:30 on 30 June 2005. Nobody was injured but the line was closed for over six weeks. It eventually reopened on 20 August 2005. Compensation by Tesco to Chiltern is believed to have cost at least £8.5m and the retailer has pledged to fund a media campaign to win back passengers lost by the closure of its route.

[edit] Future

There are several suggested plans [1] [2] for this route:

  • All services to and from Birmingham Snow Hill station could be operated by Chiltern Railways from 2007. Chiltern services would continue past Kidderminster to Malvern.
  • The restoration of the quadruple track between South Ruislip (Northolt Junction) and West Ruislip, allowing trains to call at both stations without blocking the line. Triple track currently exists at West Ruislip, with the up platform loop still in situ, and at South Ruislip, with the Down Main through line also in situ. This would involve the reconstruction of the down platform at West Ruislip, the reconstruction of the up platform at South Ruislip, and the demolition of West Ruislip signalbox. This 'Chiltern Metro' service was not programmed in to the last round of franchising agreements.
  • Restoration of fast through lines at Beaconsfield. This project has been shelved; the existing lines have been realigned and can now be traversed by locomotive-hauled trains at 50 miles an hour, and by the Chiltern DMUs at 75 miles an hour.
  • Double track the line from Princes Risborough to Aylesbury.
  • Remodelling Banbury Station and tracks.
  • New Chiltern Metro Service that would operate 4+tph for Wembley Stadium, Sudbury & Harrow Road, Sudbury Hill Harrow, Northolt Park, South Ruislip and West Ruislip. This would require a reversing facility at West Ruislip, passing loops at Sudbury Hill Harrow and a passing loop at Wembley Stadium (part of the old down fast line is in use as a central reversing siding, for stock movements and additionally for 8-car football shuttles to convey passengers to the stadium for events). See [3]
  • Re-opening the line between Oxford and Princes Risborough, which would provide an alternative to the Oxford Paddington route. The Oxford to Banbury spur would then be handed over to the Chiltern Main Line to create a diversionary loop from Princes Risborough to Banbury via Oxford. This option requires an expensive crossing of the M40 motorway.
  • Building a connection at Bicester to the Oxford to Bicester Line, allowing direct trains from Marylebone to Oxford via Bicester Town.
  • A new station is proposed at Aylesbury Vale to serve a planned residential development in the area. This station will also improve access from those parts of Buckinghamshire not at present directly served by the rail network.

[edit] See also

[edit] External links

Preceded by:
Network SouthEast
As part of British Rail
Operator of Chiltern franchise
Succeeded by:

Domestic: Arriva Trains Wales - c2c - Central Trains - Chiltern Railways - First Capital Connect
First Great Western - First ScotRail - Grand Central1 - GNER - Heathrow Connect
Hull Trains - Island Line2 - Merseyrail - Midland Mainline - Northern Rail
Northern Ireland Railways3 - 'one' - Silverlink - Southeastern - Southern
South West Trains2 - TransPennine Express - Virgin Trains
International: Enterprise3 - Eurostar
Airport Link: Gatwick Express - Heathrow Express - Stansted Express4
Sleeper: Caledonian Sleeper5 - Night Riviera6
1 Starts 20 May 2007 - 2 To be replaced by the South Western franchise in February 2007
3 Operated on the Irish railway network - 4 Operated by 'one' - 5 Operated by First ScotRail
6 Operated by First Great Western

Future passenger train operators in Great Britain
New Franchises: Cross Country1 - East Midlands1 - London Overground1 - South Western2
West Midlands1
Proposed open-access
Grand Union3 - Wrexham & Shropshire4
1 Starts November 2007 - 2 Starts February 2007 - 3 Proposed - 4 Awaiting Approval
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Chiltern Railways

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