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.
  • Between 2003 and 2005, all 39 Class 165s were overhauled by Bombardier at Ilford EMU Depot; during this work, air conditioning units were installed throughout the fleet, while the hopper opening windows were removed; a first-class seating area was also implemented.
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.
  • During April 2003, Chiltern restored a single Class 121 Bubble Car for use on the Aylesbury to Princes Risborough shuttles. In May 2011, a second Class 121 followed after being overhauled at Tyseley TMD.
  • During March 2013, a third Class 121 (121032) was acquired from Arriva Trains Wales for use as a spare parts donor. On 19 May 2017, the Chiltern Bubble cars ran for the last time, as their age made spare parts increasingly difficult to obtain.
  • In January 2008, Chiltern ordered four two-coach Class 172 Turbostars; these entered service during June 2011. Because they cannot be fitted with the tripcock safety equipment necessary to operate on London Underground lines, none of the Class 172s can operate via Amersham unless attached to a Class 165 or Class 168 DMU.
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.
  • Starting in December 2010, Chiltern began operating two peak-hour loco-hauled services consisting of a Class 67 diesel locomotive hauling a rake of Mark 3 coaches and a Driving Van Trailer. A single set was initially hired from fellow DB Regio subsidiary Wrexham & Shropshire to operate a Birmingham Moor Street to London Marylebone service while another was made up of some DB-Regio-owned Mark 3s painted in British Rail blue/grey and Virgin Trains livery and operated from Banbury to London Marylebone.
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.
  • During 2012, the ex-Wrexham & Shropshire Mark 3 coaches were overhauled and fitted with sliding plug doors (similar to those fitted to South West Trains' Class 444 Desiros) and toilet retention tanks by Wabtec's Doncaster Works. Once this work was completed, a further ten Mark 3s were overhauled by Wabtec to create a fifth set and to extend the existing sets up to six coaches.
  • In 2012, the DB-Regio-owned Mark 3s used on the peak-hour Banbury service were given a light overhaul at LNWR, Bristol, and the Virgin-liveried examples repainted into British Rail blue/grey. To allow Class 168s to be cascaded to the new Oxford services as part of Evergreen 3, more Mark 3s are to be returned to service in the future.
  • Between 2015 and 2016, Class 170 Turbostars with First TransPennine Express transferred to Chiltern Railways. Chiltern took five of the First TransPennine Class 170s from May 2015 and the remaining four in July 2016. Upon delivery, the Class 170s were modified to allow them to be used with Chiltern's existing Class 168s, and reclassified as Class 168/3s.
  • In early 2014, Chiltern Railways agreed a sub-lease from Direct Rail Services (DRS) for six Class 68 locomotives for use on its London Marylebone to Birmingham service to replace the existing fleet of Class 67s. Maintenance and commissioning for the new fleet is assisted by DRS.
  • During 2017, Chiltern Railways entered into an agreement with Artemis Intelligent Power and the Rail Safety and Standards Board to provide one of its redundant DVTs as a donor vehicle for conversion into a new type of diesel locomotive.
  • In July 2021, Chiltern Railways converted a single Class 168 unit (168329) into a Battery Hybrid train, referred to as "HybridFlex"; during February 2022, it was first run on services between London and Aylesbury. The company promoted the HybridFlex as increasing acceleration while reducing fuel consumption, vibration, and noise emissions, along with lessening the environmental impact of rail travel.
Chiltern Railways Current Fleet
  • Networker   165/0 Networker Turbo   DMU
All Chiltern Railways services (apart from Mainline services)   1990–1992
  • Bombardier Turbostar   168 Clubman
Chiltern Mainline and some local services   1998, 2000, 2004
  • Stadler UKLight   68 UKLight   Diesel locomotive
Chiltern Main Line services   2014
  • Mark 3   Passenger carriage
  • Driving Van Trailer   Control car
Chiltern Railways Past Fleet
Former train types operated by Chiltern Railways include:
  • 67   Diesel locomotive
Chiltern Main Line services   1999–2000   December 2014
  • 121   DMU
Aylesbury–Princes Risborough   1959–60   19 May 2017
  • 172/1
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.
  • Building of the West Hampstead interchange to allow easy interchange with the London Overground - North London Line, Jubilee line, Metropolitan line and Thameslink services.
  • New Chiltern Metro Service that would operate more than four trains per hour 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 eight-car football shuttles to convey passengers to the stadium for events). This 'Chiltern Metro' service was not programmed into the last round of franchising agreements.
  • Re-opening the passenger line between Oxford and Bedford as part of the East West Rail project, and from Aylesbury to East West Rail at Claydon LNE Junction to provide a route to Milton Keynes and the West Coast Main Line via Bletchley.
  • Two miles of the line north of Aylesbury re-opened on 14 December 2008, terminating at a new station, Aylesbury Vale Parkway. However, during late 2017, the Government announced that the private company, East West Rail Company, had been formed to build and operate the line exclusively.
  • Opening a rail line from Aylesbury to an M6-M1 Parkway Station near Rugby.
  • Extending Oyster Pay-as-you-go to High Wycombe and Aylesbury.
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):
London–Aylesbury line
Aylesbury–Princes Risborough line
Leamington–Stratford line
Oxford–Bicester 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
                                           Stourbridge Junction
  Cradley Heath
  Old Hill
  Rowley Regis
  Langley Green
  Smethwick Galton Bridge
  The Hawthorns
  Jewellery Quarter
  Birmingham Snow Hill
  Birmingham Moor Street
  Small Heath
  Acocks Green
Stratford-upon-Avon      Olton
Stratford-upon-Avon      Solihull
Parkway                            Widney Manor
Wilmcote                          Lapworth
  Warwick Parkway
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
Princes Risborough
High Wycombe                Wendover
Seer Green & Jordans     Great Missenden
Gerrards Cross
Denham Golf Club          Amersham
West Ruislip                     Chalfont & Latimer
South Ruislip
Northolt Park
Sudbury Hill Harrow      Rickmansworth
Sudbury &
Harrow Road
Wembley Stadium          Harrow-on-the-Hill
West Ealing                      London Marylebone
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