More About Chiltern Railways
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.
Chiltern Railways Train 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 Town. 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".
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.
In 2004 Chiltern Railways took over the operation of passenger services on the Leamington Spa to Stratford-upon-Avon branch line.
Chiltern's newly formed sister company, the Wrexham, Shropshire and Marylebone Railway, hopes to run services from North Wales along the Chiltern route to London.
Chiltern Railways Train 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.
Chiltern Railways Rolling Stock
Chiltern Railways was the first of the UK's privatised railway companies to order new trains and bring them into service. Since privatisation, they have more than doubled the size of the original train fleet.
Chiltern Railways operate 3 types of passenger train on our line - class 165 (Turbo), class 168 (Clubman) and class 121 (Bubble Car) – all of which are diesel powered.
Chiltern Railways Class 165 ‘Turbo’
The Class 165s are used mainly on the commuter and suburban services. These units mainly work the shorter distance routes between Banbury or Aylesbury and London.
The Class 165 ‘Turbo’ carriages have recently undergone a major refurbishment programme following a major consultation with passengers as to their needs from these trains. In addition to a refreshed appearance, included in this refurbishment programme was the installation of air conditioning, CCTV cameras, improved passenger information display screens and a disabled area for the use of wheelchairs.
Chiltern Railways Class 168 "Clubman"
Class 168 "Clubman" trains are specially designed for longer distance travel on our route between the West Midlands and London. There are plans to completely refurbish the entire Clubman fleet in 2007. The refurbished trains will offer greater comfort for passengers in addition to better on-train facilities including improved catering on peak business services and power plugs at table seats.
Chiltern Railways Class 121 "Bubble Car"
The Class 121 "Bubble Car" is the oldest train in the fleet and has recently been refurbished to modern standards which includes a passenger information display screen and central door locking. The Class 121 train is used only on peak hour shuttle trains between Aylesbury and Princes Risborough. This allows a Class 165 to be released to work a peak hour commuter service to London.
Chiltern Railways Into The Future
On 6th July 2007, Henderson Fund Managers, the owner of John Laing, announced the sale of its Chiltern Railway subsidiary, as it wants to focus on its public infrastructure portfolio. Arriva plc and Go-Ahead Group have both expressed an interest in acquiring the company.
If the Croxley Rail link gets the go ahead from Tfl and Hertfordshire County Council, direct services into Watford junction from Aylesbury will be likely, as it will link the Chilterns to the important commercial centre at Watford and the important transport connections at the Junction.
The High Speed Two mainline route is under consideration, and preliminary budgets have been made using the M40 / Chiltern Railways route between London and Birmingham. If this goes ahead, a new line will be built linking with High Speed One between St. Pancras International and Stratford International with a link to St. Pancras and a little further on Heathrow Airport, up to Aynho, just south of Banbury.
The remenant of the line wil be upgraded to French TGV standard and will split from the mainline again to serve Birmingham International Airport and will terminate at Birmingham Moor Street. This would allow passengers from Birmingham and other places (Coventry, Warwick, Banbury, Bicester, Aylesbury, Oxford) a direct train link to High Speed One, otherwise known as the Channel Tunnel Rail Link, with the passenger only having to get off at St. Pancreas or Stratford to board a Eurostar train.
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