Chiltern Railways - A
Chiltern Railways - A
Chiltern Railways (legal name The Chiltern Railway Company Limited) is a British train operating company that has operated the Chiltern Railways franchise since July 1996. Since 2009, it has been a subsidiary of Arriva UK Trains.
Chiltern Railways was founded as M40 Trains by a group of ex-British Rail managers backed by John Laing and 3i; in June 1996, it was announced that M40 Trains had been awarded the Chiltern Railways franchise. On 21 July 1996, it took over operations from British Rail. The company promptly commenced the redoubling of the Chiltern Main Line under the Evergreen initiative and ordered the Class 168 Clubman diesel multiple units (DMUs) to supplement its ex-British Rail fleet.
Following the awarding of a 20-year franchise to Chiltern Railways in August 2000, Evergreen phase 2 works begun to raise line speeds around Beaconsfield, built two new platforms at its London Marylebone terminus. In January 2010, a £250 million upgrade package was agreed for Evergreen phase 3, remodelling the line and permitting 100 mph operations, thus greatly reducing journey times.
In August 2002, the John Laing Group became the sole owner of Chiltern Railways after buying out all other shareholders; shortly after John Laing's purchase by Henderson Equity Partners, the company was sold to the German publicly owned railway company Deutsche Bahn in January 2008. Chiltern Railways became a subsidiary of Arriva UK Trains as a result of restructuring during early 2011.
Around this time, Chiltern was considered one of the best railway operators in Britain, with Public Performance Measure (PPM) regularly over 90%. However, the introduction of new timetables during the 2010s was repeatedly received negatively by the travelling public. Severe disruption to Chiltern's services occurred following the collapse of Gerrards Cross Tunnel on 30 June 2005; an unplanned six week closure of the main line was forced, resulting in compensation being paid by Tesco to both Chiltern Railways and Network Rail.
Chiltern Railways operates commuter/regional rail passenger services from its central London terminus at Marylebone along the M40 corridor to destinations in Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire and Warwickshire, as well as long-distance services to the West Midlands along two routes. Services on the Chiltern Main Line run from London to Birmingham Moor Street, Stratford-upon-Avon and Oxford, with some peak-hour services extended to Stourbridge Junction.
Chiltern Railways also runs trains on the London–Aylesbury line to Aylesbury (some of which continue on to Aylesbury Vale Parkway), and on the Princes Risborough to Aylesbury and Oxford to Bicester branch lines. From December 2010, Chiltern began operating the Chiltern Mainline service of two peak-hour locomotive-hauled services consisting of a Class 67 hauling a rake of modernised Mark 3 coaches and a Driving Van Trailer.
Chiltern Railways History
Chiltern Railways originated with a number of former British Rail managers who sought to conduct a management buyout on one of the soon-to-be-created rail franchises that would be produced as a part of the privatisation of British Rail.
However, their introduction was marred by unreliability, in part due to their rushed entry into service in response to booming passenger demand. By April 1999, the company claimed to employ 50% more staff than it had at the start of the franchise, and to be running 25% more services than had been operated by British Rail.
Meanwhile, under the terms of the franchise agreement, the annual subsidy provided by the British government was gradually reduced.
Due to a lack of available space, Tesco started building a tunnel over the active railway line to provide suitable land for the development. On 30 June 2005, the partially-constructed tunnel collapsed, nobody was injured, but a complete closure of the line was enacted for over six weeks before being permitted to reopen on 20 August 2005.
Tesco paid an estimated £200 million of compensation to both Chiltern Railways and Network Rail for the disruption, the retailer also pledged to fund a media campaign to win back passengers lost by the route's unplanned closure. The tunnel's construction resumed in January 2009. In late November 2010, the completed store was opened.
Chiltern Railways is one of several train operators impacted by the 2022–2023 United Kingdom railway strikes, the first national rail strike in the UK for three decades. Its workers were amongst those are participating in industrial action due to a dispute over pay and working conditions.
Chiltern Railways Services
Chiltern Railways Operates Regular Services on Five Routes.
The Chiltern Main Line is the core route for the majority of Chiltern Railways services and is one of two "mainline routes" operated by the company. The route links the major cities of London and Birmingham (Marylebone and Snow Hill stations respectively), passing through the towns of High Wycombe, Banbury, Royal Leamington Spa, Warwick and Solihull. Chiltern Railways operates trains along the entire line, services ranging from stopping suburban trains (e.g. London Marylebone – Gerrards Cross) to express trains running the full length of the line between London and Birmingham.
The fastest timetabled journey from Birmingham to London by this route is 99 minutes (compared with 82 minutes using Avanti West Coast services between Birmingham New Street and London Euston via the West Coast Main Line). In addition to the Chiltern Railways services, CrossCountry also operates regular services on the line north of Banbury, and West Midlands Trains operates regular services north of Dorridge.
The London–Aylesbury line is the second "mainline route" operated by the company. The route links London (Marylebone) with Aylesbury via Amersham. All Chiltern Railways services on this route run the full length of the line between Marylebone and Aylesbury stations and call at all stations north of Amersham; most trains are extended one station further to Aylesbury Vale Parkway.
The line runs alongside London Underground's Metropolitan line between Finchley Road (just north of Marylebone station) and Harrow-on-the-Hill, each operator running on separate tracks. Beyond Harrow-on-the-Hill, the tracks are shared between Chiltern Railways and Metropolitan line services. This is an example of National Rail services using non-Network Rail tracks, and it uses a unique unregulated track-access agreement with London Underground. Beyond Amersham (where the Metropolitan line terminates), all services are operated by Chiltern Railways only.
The other three routes regularly served by the company are all branch lines. The Aylesbury–Princes Risborough line links Princes Risborough, on the Chiltern Main Line, with Aylesbury, on the London to Aylesbury Line.
Most trains on the line continue beyond Princes Risborough to London Marylebone, which gives Aylesbury an alternative route to reach central London; however, a few services terminate at Princes Risborough. The Oxford–Bicester line branches off the Chiltern Main Line just south of Bicester and links the town with Oxford.
The line is mostly served by express services to and from Marylebone. Until December 2016, the line terminated a few miles northeast of Oxford, at the nearby Oxford Parkway station; the line was then extended to the main Oxford station. The Leamington–Stratford line branches off the Chiltern Main Line at Hatton (a few miles west of Leamington Spa) and runs to Stratford-upon-Avon. The branch line is also operated by regular West Midlands Trains services.
Chiltern Railways Routes
As of May 2023, a simplified description of the routes served off-peak Monday to Friday are as follows:
London – Birmingham
High Wycombe, Bicester North, Banbury, Leamington Spa, Warwick, Warwick Parkway, Dorridge, Solihull, Birmingham Moor Stree
High Wycombe, Haddenham & Thame Parkway, Bicester North, Kings Sutton (1tp2h) Banbury, Leamington Spa, Warwick, Warwick Parkway, Dorridge, Solihull
London – Oxford
Gerrards Cross, Beaconsfield, High Wycombe, Saunderton, Princes Risborough, Bicester Village, Oxford Parkway
Wembley Stadium, Gerrards Cross, Beaconsfield, High Wycombe, Princes Risborough, Haddenham & Thame Parkway, Bicester Village, Islip (1tp2h) Oxford Parkway
London – High Wycombe and Aylesbury
Wembley Stadium, Sudbury Hill Harrow, Northolt Park, South Ruislip, West Ruislip (1tp2h) Denham, Denham Golf Club (1tp2h) Gerrards Cross, Seer Green and Jordans, Beaconsfield
Trains either call at West Ruislip or Denham Golf Club
Monks Risborough Little Kimble
Trains run irregularly with either hourly or 90 minute gaps
Harrow-on-the-Hill, Rickmansworth, Chorleywood, Chalfont & Latimer, Amersham, Great Missenden, Wendover, Stoke Mandeville
Harrow-on-the-Hill, Rickmansworth, Chorleywood, Chalfont & Latimer, Amersham, Great Missenden, Wendover, Stoke Mandeville, Aylesbury
Leamington – Stratford and Birmingham
Warwick, Hatton, Claverdon, Bearley, Wilmcote, Stratford-upon-Avon Parkway
Warwick, Warwick Parkway, Hatton, Lapworth, Dorridge, Solihull
a.^ 3 trains per day from London and 1 train per day towards London extend to Stourbridge Junction, calling at Rowley Regis, with Smethwick Galton Bridge served once per day in each direction and Jewellery Quarter, The Hawthorns, Langley Green, Old Hill, Cradley Heath and Lye served once per day Stourbridge-bound only.
b.^ Some trains only run between London and Banbury
c.^ Doesn't run some hours
Chiltern Railways Parliamentary Trains
Chiltern Railways operates two parliamentary train services:
Buckinghamshire Railway Centre
On certain Bank Holiday Mondays, services are extended from Aylesbury to the Buckinghamshire Railway Heritage Centre facilities at Quainton Road, a short way north of Aylesbury Vale Parkway. However, this did not happen in 2019 and their future is uncertain. The link will continue to be used by freight services to Calvert.
Chiltern Railways Tickets
Since winning the franchise, Chiltern has introduced "Route: High Wycombe" tickets for the Chiltern route between Birmingham and London that are considerably cheaper than "Route: Any Permitted" tickets, valid on the faster Avanti West Coast service to London Euston as well a number of other operators and routes. Chiltern offers only standard class, not standard and First Class as on Avanti services.
Until January 2022, Chiltern offered a premium economy "Business Zone" carriage on their Class 68 loco-hauled services between Birmingham or Oxford and London. Passengers would pay an upgrade fee to sit in a larger first-class-style seat, and formerly, this upgrade came with complimentary refreshments but, since May 2017, refreshment services have been cut on all Chiltern Railways services, meaning the "Business Zone" no longer comes with complimentary refreshments.
From January 2022, Business Zone is no longer offered, and the former Business Zone carriage can be used by any customers holding a valid ticket to travel at no extra cost.
Chiltern Railways Overview
Chiltern Railways Franchise(s): Chiltern
Chiltern Railways Main route(s): Chiltern Main Line
Chiltern Railways Other Route(s):
Aylesbury–Princes Risborough line
Birmingham-Kidderminster line (peak only)
Chiltern Railways Fleet Size:
6 Class 68 locomotives
6 Mark 3 Driving Van Trailers
25 Mark 3 carriages
39 Class 165 Networker Turbo sets
24 Class 168 Clubman sets
1 Class 01 shunter
Chiltern Railways Stations Called at: 66
Chiltern Railways Stations Operated: 32
Chiltern Railways Parent Company: Arriva UK Trains
Chiltern Railways Reporting Mark: CH
Chiltern Railways Dates of Operation: 21 July 1996–12 December 2027
Chiltern Railways Technical Length: 336.4 km (209.0 mi)