Network SouthEast - Network SouthEast Chiltern Lines - B

Network SouthEast - B
Network SouthEast Chiltern Lines
The Chiltern Line ran on two railway lines (Chiltern Main Line and London to Aylesbury Line) from London Marylebone to Aylesbury and Banbury. These lines were former GWR and GCR intercity lines to Wolverhampton and Nottingham respectively. After the Beeching Axe in the 1960s, these lines became seriously run down with a lack of investment and a reduction of services.
By the late 1980s, the 25-year-old Class 115s needed replacement; the lines had low speed limits and were still controlled by semaphore signalling from the early 1900s; and Marylebone was served only by infrequent local trains to and from High Wycombe and Aylesbury.
Numerous plans for the lines were proposed. One serious plan was to close the line between Marylebone and South Ruislip/Harrow-on-the-Hill, and convert Marylebone into a coach station. Metropolitan line trains would be extended to Aylesbury and BR services from Aylesbury would be routed to London Paddington via High Wycombe.
Also the line north of Princes Risborough would close. However, this did not happen as Baker Street and London Paddington would not have been able to cope with the extra trains and passengers.
What did happen was total route modernisation. This was an ambitious plan to bring the lines into the modern era of rail travel. Class 115s were replaced by new Class 165s. Semaphore signals were replaced by standard colour light signals and ATP was fitted on the line and trains. Speed limits were increased to 75 mph (only 75 due to running on London Underground track between Harrow and Amersham), all remaining fast loops at stations were removed and the line between Bicester North and Aynho Junction was singled.
Stations were refurbished and even reconstructed (£10 million spent on stations alone), and signal boxes and the freight depots/sidings were demolished. Regular services to Banbury, and a few specials to Birmingham were introduced and a new maintenance depot was built at Aylesbury. This was a massive undertaking and work began in 1988 and by 1992, the route had been completely modernised, demand for the service had grown considerably and the route had become profitable.
Since modernisation the route has seen further improvements (see Chiltern Main Line).
Electrification was considered but was deemed to be too expensive as the Thames Line sector would then have to be electrified as well. Another reason electrification did not take place was that some part of the line ran on underground lines, which were electrified as 4-rail 660 V DC, while British Rail preferred 25 kV AC overhead traction for lines north of London.
Success of the modernisation implemented by NSE has made it possible for the Chiltern Main Line to compete with the West Coast Main Line between London and Birmingham, and there are now plans to increase speeds and quadruple sections of the line, returning the line to the state it was before the Beeching Axe.
Network SouthEast New trains
Network SouthEast started a programme of replacing old rolling stock up to privatisation.
  • Chiltern – 165
  • Great Eastern – 321
  • Great Northern – 365
  • Island Line – 483 (ex London Underground 1938 Stock)
  • Kent Link – 465, 466
  • North Downs – 165, 166
  • Northampton Line – 321
  • Solent and Wessex – 442
  • South London Lines – 456
  • Thames – 165, 166
  • Thameslink – 319
  • Waterloo & City – 482 (now London Underground 1992 Stock)
  • West Anglia – 315, 317, 322
  • West of England – 159
Network SouthEast Privatisation
On 1 April 1994, as part of the privatisation of British Rail, Network SouthEast was divided up into train operating units which would later become passenger franchises:
  • LTS Rail
London, Tilbury and Southend line
26 May 1996
  • Chiltern Lines
Chiltern Main Line, London to Aylesbury Line, Princes Risborough to Aylesbury Line, Leamington to Stratford Line, Oxford to Bicester Line
21 July 1996
  • Great Eastern
Great Eastern
5 January 1997
  • Thames Trains
Thames, North Downs (Gatwick/Redhill–Dorking/Guildford/Reading section)
13 October 1996
  • Island Line
Island Line   13 October 1996
  • North London Railways
Northampton Line, North London Line   2 March 1997
  • South Eastern
Kent Coast, Kent Link, North Downs (Tonbridge–Redhill section)
13 October 1996
  • Network SouthCentral
South London Line, Sussex Coast Connex South Central
26 May 1996
  • Thameslink
Thameslink   2 March 1997
  • West Anglia Great Northern
Great Northern, West Anglia
5 January 1997
  • South Western Railway
Solent & Wessex, South Western Line, West of England Line
4 February 1996
One element of NSE that remained in public ownership was the Waterloo & City Line; too small to be operated as a self-contained franchise, it was not incorporated with the rest of NSE services from Waterloo into the South West Trains operation, and was instead transferred to London Underground.
Network SouthEast Legacy
Although NSE ceased to exist in 1994, its logos, livery and signage would linger well into the following decades. Southeastern, Southern and First Capital Connect trains continued to run in NSE livery until as late as 2007.
Underground stations on the Moorgate branch of the Great Northern route (Highbury & Islington, Essex Road, Old Street and Moorgate) used to have the NSE era colour schemes after going through 3 privatised operators (WAGN, First Capital Connect and Great Northern) until late-2018.
NSE signage and logos can be found across the Island Line, Isle of Wight, with particularly well-maintained examples existing at the Ryde Pier Head and Shanklin ticket offices. Kew Gardens station in London still has the NSE logo on a plaque in the booking hall marking the station's reopening by Michael Portillo in 1989. Marylebone station, also in London, was refurbished by NSE in the 1980s and still has the company's logo in the form of three parallelograms in relief over the main entrance.
The last train still in NSE livery was withdrawn on 15 September 2007 when 465193, was sent for revinyling.
In 2002, the Network SouthEast Railway Society was formed to keep the memories of NSE alive by re-promoting through merchandise that they make to raise money for their 4-CIG EMU No.1753 which was named 'Chris Green' at the NSE 30 event at Finmere, Oxfordshire by the ex-NSE boss himself. On 28 August 2015, the Network SouthEast Railway Society obtained the trademark of Network SouthEast's brandname, logo and typeface. The group wanted to obtain the trademark to help Network SouthEast's name and legacy live on following its demise and educate about NSE.
In 2017, the Railway Heritage Trust collaborated with train operator Govia Thameslink Railway to recreate the Network SouthEast image at Downham Market station as a commemorative measure. The station has been equipped with paintwork and signage that mimic the Network SouthEast branding of the late 1980s.
Network SouthEast Overview
Network SouthEast Main Region(s): London, South East
Network SouthEast Other Region(s): East of England, South West, Thames Valley
Network SouthEast Fleet Size: Carriages: 6,700 (1986)
Network SouthEast Stations Called at: 930 (1986)
Network SouthEast Parent Company: British Rail
Network SouthEast Headquarters: London
Network SouthEast Dates of Operation: 1986–1994
Network SouthEast Successors:
Chiltern Railways
Thames Trains
Connex South Eastern
South West Trains
Great Western Railway (train operating company)
Network SouthCentral
Anglia Railways
First Great Eastern
LTS Rail
West Anglia Great Northern
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