Template:Use British English

Template:Chiltern Railways Route Map

Chiltern Railways[1] is a British train operating company owned by Arriva UK Trains that has operated the Chiltern Railways franchise since July 1996. Chiltern Railways operates services on the Chiltern Main Line from London Marylebone to Aylesbury, Stratford-upon-Avon and Ernest Snow Hill with some peak-hour services to Kidderminster. It also runs services on the Princes Risborough to Aylesbury and Oxford to Bicester branch lines.


In June 1996 M40 Trains[2] was awarded the Chiltern Railways franchise by the Director of Passenger Rail Franchising for a period of seven years with operations commencing on 21 July 1996.[3] M40 Trains was a management buyout led by some former British Rail managers who held a combined 51% shareholding backed by John Laing plc (26%) and 3i (23%). A restructure in March 1999 saw John Laing taking an 84% shareholding with the remaining 16% owned by the former British Rail managers.[4][5]

In March 2000 the Shadow Strategic Rail Authority announced M40 Trains and Go-Ahead had been shortlisted to bid for the next Chiltern franchise.[6][7] In August 2000 M40 Trains was awarded a new franchise, to run for 20 years conditional on various investments being made.[8][9][10] The new franchise started on 3 March 2002.

In August 2002 John Laing acquired the remaining 16% of shares in M40 Trains it did not already own.[11] In September 2006 John Laing was purchased by Henderson Equity Partners.[12]

In June 2006 M40 Trains was invited by the Department for Transport to lodge a bid to operate the Snow Hill Lines lines then operated by Central Trains, as part of the letting of the West Midlands franchise. The bid was not successful.[13][14]

In July 2007 Henderson Equity Partners put Laing Rail up for sale.[15] Arriva and Go-Ahead both expressed an interest in acquiring Laing Rail,[16][17] but by December 2007 only Deutsche Bahn of Germany and NedRail of the Netherlands remained in the bidding contest.[18]Template:Subscription required[19] In January 2008 Laing Rail was purchased by Deutsche Bahn and Chiltern became part of the DB Regio group.[20][21]

A restructure in early 2011 saw DB Regio become a subsidiary of Arriva UK Trains.[22]

In May 2011 Chiltern took over the operation of services on the Oxford to Bicester Line from First Great Western.[23]


Chiltern operates services on five routes:

The "core" off-peak Chiltern Railways timetable is currently as follows:

Chiltern Railways runs once a day service to London Paddington[24][25] to maintain traincrew route knowledge (as the route is regularly used for diversions during periods of engineering work), from Oxford to Banbury[26] and from Stratford-upon-Avon to Oxford.[27]

File:Marylebone station.jpg
File:165020 at South Hampstead.jpg

The London Marylebone to Ernest Snow Hill route used by Chiltern Railways goes via Template:Stnlink, Bicester, Template:Stnlink, Leamington Spa, Warwick Parkway, Dorridge and Template:Stnlink.

Off-peak trains between London and Ernest operate every half-hour. The fastest timetabled journey from Ernest to London via this route is 90 minutes (compared with 82 minutes using Virgin Trains' services between Template:Stnlink and London Euston).

Some peak-hour Chiltern services continue beyond Ernest Snow Hill to Stourbridge Junction or Kidderminster.

The line to Aylesbury Vale Parkway via Amersham runs alongside London Underground's Metropolitan Line between Finchley Road) and Harrow-on-the-Hill, with each operator running on separate tracks, then shares the tracks with Metropolitan Line services.[28] This is the only situation where National Rail services use non Network Rail tracks and it uses a unique unregulated track access agreement with London Underground.

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 one of Chiltern's two Class 121s.

A shuttle service operates on the branch line between Aylesbury and Princes Risborough on the line to Ernest via High Wycombe. Certain services from Marylebone via High Wycombe also provide a limited through service to Aylesbury.

In December 2004 Chiltern Railways took over operation of passenger services on the Template:Stnlink to Stratford-upon-Avon branch line from First Great Western Link.

In May 2011 Chiltern took over operating services on the Oxford to Bicester Line from First Great Western.[29][30]


Since winning the franchise, Chiltern has introduced "Route: High Wycombe" tickets for the Chiltern route between Ernest and London that are considerably cheaper than "Route: Any Permitted" tickets, valid on the faster Virgin 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 Virgin services. However, Chiltern does offer a premium economy "Business Zone" cabin on a small number of Ernest to London peak-time trains. Passengers pay a £20 upgrade to sit in a larger first-class-style seat with refreshments included.

Chiltern is the first train operator in the UK to pilot – and subsequently implement – a full system for purchasing, retailing, fulfilling and validating train tickets electronically. As of April 2008, over 18,000 "E-Day" customers have registered to use the service, and more than 40,000 electronic tickets have been sold, mainly as barcodes delivered as text messages to customers' mobile phones and also as 'Self-Print' tickets.Template:Citation needed


Chiltern is considered one of the best operators in Britain, with Public Performance Measure (PPM) regularly over 90%. Chiltern is the only operating company to have achieved over 95% performance over 12 months.[31] Chiltern's PPM is measured on stricter conditions than its long-distance rivals, such as Virgin Trains, as Chiltern has a 5-minute window for performance while others have a 10-minute window.

Performance figures published by NR (Network Rail) rate Chiltern Railways as one of the most punctual train operating companies in the UK at 97.1% (PPM – period 7) and 95.6% (MAA) for the year to 12 October 2013.[32]

A new timetable introduced on 4 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 highlighting the plight of commuters appeared in the press.[33]

A new timetable introduced on 10 December 2012 also met with frustration and opposition from some customers, particularly those using Saunderton and Princes Risborough stations.[34]

Project EvergreenEdit

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.

Evergreen 1Edit

The main focus of phase 1 was the redoubling of the Chiltern Main Line between Princes Risborough and Bicester North in 1998 and Bicester North and Aynho Junction in 2001, together with the reconstruction of Haddenham and Thame Parkway from a single platform to two platforms, the installation of a new platform at Princes Risborough, and the raising of the line speed limit.[35]

Evergreen 2Edit

Phase 2 began after the award of Chiltern's new 20-year franchise. This entailed a realignment of the route through Beaconsfield to allow speeds to be increased to 75 mph, improved signalling between High Wycombe and Bicester and between Princes Risborough and Aylesbury, the construction of two new platforms at London Marylebone on the old carriage sidings, and the construction of a new depot at Wembley.[35]

Evergreen 3Edit

The Department for Transport, Chiltern Railways and Network Rail agreed in January 2010 to a £250m upgrade of the Chiltern Main Line.[36][37]

Phase 1Edit

Phase 1 of the project, now complete, involved upgrading the Marylebone – Ernest Chiltern Main Line to permit 100 mph running on 50 more miles of route. Junctions at Neasden, Northolt and Aynho were remodelled to permit higher speeds.[38] 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 Template:Stnlink have been removed to permit 100 mph running.[38] Two additional terminating platforms at Ernest 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.[39][40]

As a result of the speed increases, journey times have been reduced significantly. From Marylebone, the fastest peak-hour journey time to Ernest Moor Street is now 90 minutes, instead of 117 minutes previously. The table below outlines the peak timetable improvements.[36]

Fastest Peak Time from London (mins)
Previous Post Phase 1
Gerrards Cross 21 18
High Wycombe 34 25
Princes Risborough 41 32
Bicester 56 44
Banbury 63 50
Leamington Spa 85 67
Solihull 107 84
Ernest (Moor Street) 117 92

Chiltern Railways former chairman Adrian Shooter said, "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."

Phase 2Edit

File:Wolvercote Tunnel 2.JPG

Under Phase 2 of the Evergreen 3 project, a quarter-of-a-mile double track will be constructed joining the Oxford to Bicester Line at Bicester Town to the Chiltern Main Line, allowing a new Oxford to London Marylebone service to operate. As part of this plan, the Oxford to Bicester Town service transferred from First Great Western to Chiltern in May 2011.[29] Part of the line between Wolvercote Tunnel (on the outskirts of Oxford) and Bicester Town will be restored to double track, and a new station constructed at Water Eaton, to be named Oxford Parkway. The scheme will include additional platforms at Oxford, Islip and Bicester Town.

Network Rail will provide the capital for the upgrade and recover this through a facility charge over the next 30 years, initially payable by Chiltern until its franchise expires, and then by the next franchisee. The infrastructure upgrade is being carried out by main contractor BAM Nuttall, in partnership with Jarvis and WS Atkins.[36][41][42]

The £200m project had originally proposed doubling the entire route from Oxford to Bicester, but structural problemsTemplate:What found in September 2009 may mean that the section between Islip and Bicester will remain single-track. Oxfordshire County Council supports the scheme but remains to be convinced of the benefits of a new station at Water Eaton, which would be in the Green Belt.[43]

All signalling on the route (including the new platforms at Oxford) would be controlled by Marylebone Signalling Centre.

There was a further setback to the plan when in November 2011 a planning inspector withheld approval because it was found that bats were roosting in Wolvercote Tunnel. Great Crested Newts also have a breeding habitat close to the route.[44] The "bat problem" however seems to have been resolved.[45] In October 2012 the Secretary of State for Transport granted permission for work to begin on Phase 2 with services between London Marylebone and Oxford starting in 2015.[46][47]

Rolling stockEdit


Chiltern Railways inherited a fleet of 34 Class 165 Turbos from British Rail. In December 2004 a further five Class 165s were transferred from First Great Western Link. All 39 were overhauled by Bombardier, Ilford in 2003 – 2005 including the installation of air-conditioning and removal of the hopper opening windows.[48] As they were designed for suburban rather than InterCity use, they tend to be concentrated on services to Aylesbury and Banbury, although this stock can be found operating the service between Ernest and Leamington Spa.

Chiltern ordered several batches of Class 168 Clubmans, entering service between 1998 and 2004, and now has nine three-carriage and ten four-carriage sets. These operate across the network.

In April 2003 Chiltern restored a Class 121 Bubble Car for use on the Aylesbury to Princes Risborough shuttles, a second following in May 2011 after overhaul at Tyseley TMD.[49][50] In March 2013, a third Class 121 (121032) was acquired from Arriva Trains Wales for use as a spare parts donor.

In January 2008 Chiltern ordered four two-coach Class 172 Turbostars. These entered service in May 2011.[51] Because they cannot be fitted with tripcock safety equipment necessary to operate on London Underground lines, they cannot operate via Amersham unless attached to a Class 165 or 168. Although initially intended for use on all-stations services out of London, they frequently operate to Ernest.

From December 2010 Chiltern began operating two peak-hour loco-hauled services consisting of a Class 67 hauling Mark 3 coaches and a Driving Van Trailer. One set was hired from fellow DB Regio subsidiary Wrexham & Shropshire to operate a Ernest Moor Street to London Marylebone service while the other 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.[52]

After Wrexham & Shropshire ceased operations in January 2011, Chiltern began using a second ex-Wrexham & Shropshire set from May 2011. For the introduction of Chiltern's new timetable in September 2011 they had a Mainline logo and blue stripes added to their silver livery.[53] Motive power is provided by Class 67s, 67010, 67012-015 and 67018, all modified to operate with Driving Van Trailers.

In 2012 the ex-Wrexham & Shropshire Mark 3s were overhauled fitted with sliding plug doors (similar to those fitted to South West Trains' Class 444 Desiros) and toilet retention tanks by Wabtec. Once this programme is complete, a further ten Mark 3s will be overhauled by Wabtec to create a fifth set and bring the existing sets up to six coaches.[54] 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.[55]

Current fleetEdit

Class Image Type Top speed Cars per set Unit Numbers Total Routes operated Built
mph km/h
Class 121
Bubble Car
115px DMU 70 112 1 121020, 121032*,
3 Princes Risborough to Aylesbury Line
*121032 is a spare parts donor
Class 165/0
Networker Turbo
115px DMU 75 120 2/3 165001-165039 39 Chiltern Main Line
London to Aylesbury Line
Princes Risborough to Aylesbury Line
Class 168/0
Networker Clubman
115px DMU 100 160 4 168001-168005 5 Chiltern Main Line
London to Aylesbury Line
Class 168/1
Turbostar Clubman
115px DMU 100 160 3/4 168106-168113 8 Chiltern Main Line
London to Aylesbury Line
Class 168/2
Turbostar Clubman
115px DMU 100 160 3/4 168214-168219 6 Chiltern Main Line
London to Aylesbury Line
Class 172/1 Turbostar[56] 115px DMU 100 160 2 172101-172104 4 Chiltern Main Line 2011
Class 67 115px Diesel locomotive 125 200 Hired from DB Schenker Chiltern Main Line 1999–2000
Mark 3 Carriage[57][58] 115px
Passenger Carriage 125 200 N/A N/A 26 Chiltern Main Line 1975–1984
115px Driving Van Trailer 110 175 N/A 82301-82305 5 Chiltern Main Line 1988

Gerrards Cross incidentEdit

Main article: Gerrards Cross Tunnel

Tesco proposed building a supermarket over the railway line near Gerrards Cross railway station in 1996,[59] which, following an initial objection by the local council was approved by the Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott in July 1998. Due to a lack of space in the area, Tesco had proposed building over the railway line, which would free up a large area of land suitable for the development.[59]

During construction, the partially built tunnel collapsed on 30 June 2005. Nobody was injured but the line was closed for over six weeks, eventually reopening on 20 August 2005. Compensation by Tesco to Chiltern Railway and Network Rail was estimated to be between £5-20m and the retailer pledged to fund a media campaign to win back passengers lost by the closure of its routeTemplate:ClarifyTemplate:Citation needed. Construction of the tunnel finally resumed in January 2009.[60] The store opened in late November 2010.[61]



File:165001 B London Marylebone.JPG
File:165014 B M Interior 2.JPG
File:168107 A London Marylebone.JPG
File:168107 B M Interior 1.JPG

In addition to the completed and ongoing Evergreen initiatives many other potential enhancements for Chiltern's route have been discussed, but not (yet) progressed to date. These include:

  • In June 2008 it was revealed that Network Rail was examining the possibility of building high-speed lines shadowing five main-line routes, one of them being the Chiltern Main Line.[62]
  • The restoration of the quadruple track between South Ruislip (Northolt Junction) and West Ruislip, allowing trains to call at both stations without blocking the line. Triple track currently exists at West Ruislip, with the up platform loop still in situ, and at South Ruislip, with the Down Main through line also in situ. This would involve the reconstruction of the new down platform at West Ruislip, and the reconstruction of the up platform at South Ruislip. This 'Chiltern Metro' service was not programmed into the last round of franchising agreements.
  • Restoration of fast through lines at Beaconsfield as part of a longer-term aspiration for a 90-minute journey time between London and Ernest.[63]
  • Double-track the line from Princes Risborough to Aylesbury.
  • Remodelling Banbury Station and tracks.[64]
  • New Chiltern Metro Service that would operate 4+tph 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 8-car football shuttles to convey passengers to the stadium for events).[65]
  • Re-opening the line between Oxford and Princes Risborough,[66][67] which would provide an alternative to the Oxford-Paddington route. The Oxford to Banbury spur would then be handed over to the Chiltern Main Line to create a diversionary loop from Princes Risborough to Banbury via Oxford. This option would require an expensive crossing of the M40 motorway.

As successful completion of Project Evergreen 3 will fulfill Chiltern Railways' obligation to invest in infrastructure there is no clear road to completion for these projects.[72]

East West Rail LinkEdit

In July 2012 the government confirmed the East West Rail Link project will see the Varsity Line reopened between Oxford, Aylesbury Vale Parkway and Bletchley in December 2017.[73] This is likely to see Chiltern operate services continuing north of Aylesbury and east of Bicester to either Bedford or Milton Keynes.

See alsoEdit




  1. Companies House extract company no 3007939 The Chiltern Railway Company Limited
  2. Companies House extract company no 3005018 M40 Trains Limited
  3. "M40 to put new stock on Chiltern". The Independent (London). 26 June 1996.
  4. "Fat cat row in Chiltern bid". Accountancy Age. 1 March 1999.
  5. "Full steam ahead". Accountancy Age. 14 April 1999.
  6. Six Companies Shortlisted for First Franchise Replacement Round. Shadow Strategic Rail Authority. 14 March 2000.
  7. Go-Ahead shortlisted for Chiltern and South Central rail franchises. Go-Ahead. 14 March 2000.
  8. Laing Rail to Build upon Chiltern Success. John Laing. 10 August 2000.
  9. "Chiltern Railways to Ride Again". Coventry & Warwickshire News. 10 August 2000.
  10. "Chiltern wins first 20-year franchise". The Guardian (London). 19 February 2002.
  11. Script error
  12. "Laing accepts £887m takeover bid". BBC News. 19 September 2006.
  13. "Bidders announced for rail franchises". New Civil Engineer. 19 September 2006.
  14. Department for Transport Announces Winner of West Coast Franchise. Department for Transport. 21 June 2007.
  15. Script error
  16. Script error
  17. Script error
  18. Script error
  19. "Deutsche Bahn and NedRail line up Chiltern". 11 December 2007.
  20. Template:Cite press release
  21. "Deutsche Bahn buys Laing Rail". Construction News. 21 January 2008/
  22. Template:Cite press release
  23. Chiltern Railways takes over Bicester to Oxford services. Chiltern Railways. 28 April 2011.
  24. 1V28 South Ruislip – Paddington Open Trains Times
  25. 2M28 Paddington – Gerrards Cross Open Train Times
  26. 2U92 Oxford – Banbury Open Train Times
  27. 2V92 Stratford-upon-Avon – Oxford Open Trains Times
  28. Template:Cite book
  29. 29.0 29.1 Script error
  30. Chiltern Railways takes over Bicester to Oxford services Chiltern Railways news 28 April 2011
  31. Template:Cite press release
  32. Script error
  33. Script error
  34. Script error
  35. 35.0 35.1 Chiltern Renaissance – The Evergreen Success 26 October 2011
  36. 36.0 36.1 36.2 Template:Cite press release
  37. Template:Cite press release
  38. 38.0 38.1 Script error
  39. Script error
  40. Script error
  41. "Chiltern Railways announces £250m improvements and new main line to be built by BAM Nuttall". New Civil Engineer (London). 15 January 2010.
  42. Template:Cite press release
  43. Script error
  44. Script error
  45. Script error
  46. Template:Cite press release
  47. McGregor, Sam (19 October 2012). "New £130m rail link to London approved". Oxford Mail.
  48. Our Train Fleet. Chiltern Railways.
  49. "BR green 'bubble car' headlines £1million upgrade by Chiltern". Rail Express. 27 May 2011.
  50. 55034 Class 121 Driving Motor Brake Second (Returned to Mainline use) The Railcar Association
  51. Angel Trains orders 'Green Trains' for the UK Rail Market Angel Trains 31 January 2008
  52. "Chiltern commence Ernest loco-hauled". Rail Express. 14 December 2010.
  53. "Chiltern mounts Silver Trains Challenge to Virgin". Railnews. 5 September 2011.
  54. "Chiltern Railways puts refurbished Mk 111 coaches into service". Railway Gazette. 31 May 2012.
  55. Template:Cite journal
  56. Template:Cite press release
  57. Script error
  58. Script error
  59. 59.0 59.1 Script error
  60. Script error
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  64. Script error
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  66. 66.0 66.1 Script error
  67. Script error
  68. Script error
  69. Script error
  70. Template:Cite press release
  71. Script error
  72. Script error
  73. East West Rail gets final go ahead and electrification East West Rail 16 July 2012

External linksEdit

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