Chiltern Railways - B
Chiltern Railways - B
Chiltern Railways Performance
Chiltern Railways' early operations were subject to considerable criticism. During 1998, its poor performance figures in criteria such as reliability, punctuality, and customer approval has led to financial penalties being incurred by the company, some of which was in the form of refunds to its passengers.
By the mid-2010s, Chiltern was considered one of the best railway operators in Britain, with Public Performance Measure (PPM) regularly over 90%, until the introduction of changes in November 2015, and infrastructure issues saw punctuality fall to 86% in December 2015. Chiltern's PPM is measured on stricter conditions than its long-distance rivals, such as Avanti West Coast, as Chiltern has a five-minute window for performance while others have a ten-minute window.
Performance figures published by Network Rail rate Chiltern Railways sixth in train operating companies in the UK at 89.4% (PPM – period 9) and 94.3% (MAA) for the year to 12 December 2015.
A new timetable introduced in September 2011, combined with significant disruption caused by engineering work, caused a negative reaction from customers. A petition to have the service reviewed was started, and articles describing the disrupted journeys of commuters appeared in the local press.
A new timetable introduced in December 2012 also met with frustration and opposition from some customers, particularly those using Saunderton and Princes Risborough stations.
Chiltern Railways Project Evergreen
Evergreen is the name given by Chiltern to the major infrastructure works that the company has committed to over the 20-year duration of its franchise to improve routes and services. This has been divided into three distinct phases.
Chiltern Railways Evergreen 1
The main focus of phase 1 was the redoubling of the Chiltern Main Line between Princes Risborough and Bicester North, with work taking place during 1998, as well as between Bicester North and Aynho Junction during 2001. Furthermore, several stations were subject to reconstruction works. Haddenham and Thame Parkway was rebuilt to have two operational platforms instead of a single platform; a new platform was also installed at Princes Risborough. Finally, the line speed limit was raised following appropriate infrastructure improvements.
Chiltern Railways Evergreen 2
Phase 2 commenced shortly following the award of Chiltern's 20-year franchise period in August 2000. The most extensive works undertaken was the realignment of the route through Beaconsfield, which permitted line speeds to be increased to 75 mph (121 km/h). Further improvements in this phase included the enactment of signalling improvements between High Wycombe and Bicester, as well as between Princes Risborough and Aylesbury, two new platforms were constructed at London Marylebone on land formerly occupied by the carriage sidings, while a new depot was constructed at Wembley.
Chiltern Railways Evergreen 3
The Department for Transport, Chiltern Railways and Network Rail agreed in January 2010 to a £250 million upgrade of the Chiltern Main Line.
Chiltern Railways Phase 1
Phase 1 of the project, now complete, involved upgrading the Marylebone – Birmingham Chiltern Main Line to permit 100 mph (160 km/h) running on an additional 50 miles (80 km) of route. Junctions at Neasden, Northolt and Aynho were remodelled to permit higher speeds.
The 'up' through track has been restored at Princes Risborough, the existing 'up' line becoming a platform loop, a new turnback siding has been provided at Gerrards Cross, and a new, straighter 'down' through track built from Northolt Junction (where the original layout favoured the now little-used Paddington route) to Ruislip Gardens.
The existing 'down' track continues to serve South Ruislip station. The former speed restrictions through Bicester North have been removed to permit 100 mph running. Two additional terminating platforms at Birmingham Moor Street were reopened in December 2010. Accelerated services were initially planned to start in May 2011, but there were delays and it was not until 5 September 2011 that Chiltern was able to introduce a new timetable to take advantage of the improvements.
As a result of the speed increases, journey times have been reduced significantly. From Marylebone, the fastest peak-hour journey time to Birmingham Moor Street is now 90 minutes, instead of 117 minutes previously. Chiltern Railways former chairman Adrian Shooter stated: "This is the biggest passenger rail project for several generations not to call on the taxpayer for support.
Working closely with Network Rail, we are going to create a new main-line railway for the people of Oxfordshire and the Midlands. This deal demonstrates that real improvements to rail services can be paid for without public subsidy by attracting people out of their cars and on to trains."
The table below outlines the peak timetable improvements.
Chiltern Railways Fastest Peak Time from London (minutes)
Previous Time Post Phase 1 time
Gerrards Cross 21 18
High Wycombe 34 23
Princes Risborough 41 32
Bicester 56 44
Banbury 63 50
Leamington Spa 85 67
Solihull 107 84
Birmingham (Moor Street) 117 92
Chiltern Railways Phase 2
During October 2012, the Secretary of State for Transport granted permission for work to begin on Phase 2 of the Evergreen 3 project, with services between London Marylebone and Oxford. Under Phase 2, a quarter-of-a-mile double track has been constructed joining the Oxford–Bicester line at Bicester Village to the Chiltern Main Line, allowing a new Oxford to London Marylebone service to operate.
A new station, Oxford Parkway, has been constructed at Water Eaton; the service between Oxford Parkway and London started on 26 October 2015, with the link from Oxford Parkway to Oxford becoming operational on 12 December 2016. All signalling on the route (including the new platforms at Oxford) is controlled by the Marylebone Signalling Centre.
As part of Phase 2, the Oxford to Bicester Village service transferred from First Great Western to Chiltern in May 2011. Part of the line between Wolvercote Tunnel (on the outskirts of Oxford) and Bicester Village was restored to double track, and the scheme included additional platforms at Oxford, Islip and Bicester Village.
Network Rail provided the capital for the upgrade and will recover this through a facility charge over the subsequent 30 years, initially payable by Chiltern until its franchise expires, and then by the next franchisee. The infrastructure upgrade was carried out by main contractor BAM Nuttall, in partnership with Jarvis and WS Atkins.
Oxfordshire County Council supported the scheme, but required convincing of the benefits of the new Oxford Parkway station at Water Eaton, which is in the Green Belt. In November 2011, there was a further setback to the project when a planning inspector withheld approval due to the discovery of bats roosting in Wolvercote Tunnel. Great crested newts also had a breeding habitat close to the route. In early 2012, the "bat problem" was apparently resolved.
Chiltern Railways Rolling Stock
Chiltern Railways inherited a fleet of 34 Class 165 Turbos diesel multiple units (DMUs) from British Rail. From the franchise's onset in July 1996, the company publicly promised to introduce new rolling stock. During December 2004, a further five Class 165s were transferred from First Great Western Link.
As the fleet had been designed for suburban use, rather than InterCity travel, the Class 165s tend to be concentrated on services to Aylesbury and Banbury, although this stock can also be found operating the service between Birmingham and Leamington Spa.
Chiltern ordered several batches of Class 168 Clubman DMUs. Between 1998 and 2004, these entered revenue service, the company eventually operated nine three-car and ten four-car sets. These operate across the network.
Although initially intended for use on all-stations services out of London, they frequently operated as far afield as Birmingham. During mid-2021, all of Chiltern's Class 172s were leased to West Midlands Trains for use with their existing Class 172 fleet pending the delivery of British Rail Class 196 DMUs. In December 2021, it was later announced that the Class 172/1 fleet would not be returning to Chiltern once the Class 196s enter service with WMT.
After Wrexham & Shropshire ceased operations in January 2011, Chiltern started using a second ex-Wrexham & Shropshire set from May 2011. For the introduction of Chiltern's new timetable in September 2011, these sets had a Mainline logo and blue stripes added to their silver livery. Motive power continued to be provided by several Class 67s, including 67010, 67012-015 and 67018, all of which had been modified to operate with Driving Van Trailers.
Chiltern Railways Current Fleet
All Chiltern Railways services (apart from Mainline services) 1990–1992
Chiltern Mainline and some local services 1998, 2000, 2004
Chiltern Main Line services 2014
Chiltern Railways Past Fleet
Former train types operated by Chiltern Railways include:
Chiltern Main Line services 1999–2000 December 2014
Aylesbury–Princes Risborough 1959–60 19 May 2017
All Chiltern Railways services (apart from London-Amersham/Aylesbury line) 2011 May 2021
In addition to the completed Evergreen initiatives, other potential enhancements for Chiltern's route have been discussed, but had not progressed as at the end of 2017. These include:
Upgrading the Acton–Northolt line (formerly the "New North Main Line") to new platforms at Old Oak Common. This upgrade will also extend to London Paddington to increase capacity on the Chiltern Main Line as there is no room to expand the station at Marylebone.
Restoration of fast through lines at Beaconsfield as part of a longer-term aspiration for a 90-minute journey time between London and Birmingham.
Chiltern Railways Remodelling Banbury Station and tracks.
Since successful completion of Project Evergreen 3 has fulfilled Chiltern Railways' obligation to invest in infrastructure, there is no clear road to completion for these projects.
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)
Chiltern Railways Route Legend
Smethwick Galton Bridge
Birmingham Snow Hill
Birmingham Moor Street
Parkway Widney Manor
Oxford Leamington Spa
Oxford Parkway Banbury
Islip Kings Sutton
Bicester Village Bicester North
Aylesbury Vale Parkway
Haddenham & Aylesbury
Thame Parkway Little Kimble
Monks Risborough Stoke Mandeville
High Wycombe Wendover
Seer Green & Jordans Great Missenden
Denham Golf Club Amersham
West Ruislip Chalfont & Latimer
Sudbury Hill Harrow Rickmansworth
Wembley Stadium Harrow-on-the-Hill
West Ealing London Marylebone