Network SouthEast (NSE) was one of three passenger sectors of British Rail created in 1982. NSE principally operated commuter trains in the London area and inter-urban services in densely populated South East England, although the network reached as far west as Exeter. Before 1986, the sector was known as London & South Eastern.
Before the sectorisation of BR in 1982 the system was split into regions: those operating around London were London Midland Region (Marylebone, Euston, St Pancras and Broad Street), Southern Region (Waterloo, Victoria, Charing Cross, Holborn Viaduct, Cannon Street and London Bridge), Western Region (Paddington) and Eastern Region (King's Cross, Moorgate, Broad Street, Liverpool Street and Fenchurch Street). It has been claimed that the move to sectorisation of the main BR businesses - commuter services in the south-east of England, long distance intercity services, local services in the UK regions, parcels and freight - was due to the desire of the Conservative government of the time to reduce the level of public subsidy for the railways.
Upon sectorisation, the London & South Eastern sector took over passenger services in the South-East of England. The livery of this sector was nicknamed Jaffa Cake. The livery was composed of chocolate brown, orange and grey colours.
The last passenger train still in NSE livery was lost on 15 September 2007, when a Class 465, 465193, the last still in NSE colours, was sent to Stewarts Lane TMD by Southeastern for revinyling into Southeastern livery. However, there is still a departmental bubble car, used for route learning, in original NSE livery operating on the Chiltern Lines.
Beginning in 1983, BR’s operating regions were replaced with several business sectors: InterCity for principal passenger trains, Network SouthEast (NSE) for London commuter trains, Provincial for other local trains (including commuter rail outside London), Railfreight, and Parcels. BR’s regions were retained for infrastructure management purposes. The aim was to introduce greater budgetary efficiency and managerial accountability through sectorisation, rather than privatising BR outright. Although BR owned all five sectors, each sector was given primary responsibility for various assets (rolling stock, tracks, stations), and control resided with the primary user. Other sectors could negotiate access rights and rent facilities, using their own resources.
Sectorisation brought big changes to London with the creation of Network SouthEast. In contrast to BR Provincial, which was intended to operate interregional and other subsidised services, NSE was expected to cover most of its operating costs from revenues. Not all London commuter traffic was profitable, but NSE charged fees to other BR sectors using its tracks, and used more profitable commuter and express flows to cross-subsidise branch line operations. As before, the central government remained the source of capital funding for Network SouthEast.
Although NSE did not own or maintain infrastructure, it exercised control over almost all carrier core functions. NSE set its own goals and service standards in consultation with BR, and created its own management structure and oversight. BR allowed NSE to decide about scheduling, marketing, infrastructure enhancements, and rolling stock specifications on NSE-assigned lines and services. NSE owned its equipment, which it painted in its own colours, as other sectors (and PTEs in the other metropolitan areas) were doing. NSE was able to exert much greater control and accountability over both its operating budget and service quality than BR could under its Regions. Relations were generally good between NSE and other sectors, although operating pressures sometimes forced staff to use equipment and assets belonging to other sectors to meet immediate needs.
- Main article: Network Railcard
Although NSE ceased to exist in 1997, the grouping of services that it defined before privatisation remain grouped by the Network Railcard, which can be bought for £28 and which offers a 34% discount for adults and 60% discount for accompanying children after 10:00 on weekdays and all day at weekends (subject to a minimum weekday fare of £13).
NSE was broken down into various sub-divisions.
|Subdivision||Main Route(s)||Route Description|
|Chiltern||Chiltern Main Line, London to Aylesbury Line||London Marylebone-Aylesbury/Banbury|
|Great Eastern||Great Eastern Main Line||London Liverpool Street-Norwich/Ipswich/Harwich/Clacton-on-Sea/Walton-on-the-Naze/Southend Victoria|
|Great Northern||East Coast Main Line, Hitchin-Cambridge Line||London King's Cross-Peterborough/Cambridge (and subsequently London King's Cross-Cambridge-King's Lynn)|
|Island Line||Island Line||Ryde-Shanklin|
|Kent Link||North Kent Line, Bexleyheath Line, Dartford Loop Line, Mid-Kent Line, Catford Loop Line, Hayes Line||London Victoria/Charing Cross-Dartford/Gravesend/Gillingham/Orpington/Sevenoaks/Hayes|
|Kent Coast||Chatham Main Line, Hastings Line, Sheerness Line, South East Main Line||London Victoria/Charing Cross-Margate/Dover/Folkestone/Ashford/Tunbridge Wells/Hastings (and subsequently North Downs services as far as Redhill/Three Bridges)|
|London, Tilbury and Southend||LTS Line||London Fenchurch Street - Tilbury - Southend Central - Shoeburyness|
|North Downs||North Downs Line||Reading-Guildford-Reigate-Gatwick Airport-Tonbridge|
|Northampton Line/North London Lines||West Coast Main Line, Marston Vale Line, North London Line||London Euston/Broad Street-Watford-Milton Keynes-Northampton-Birmingham, Bedford-Bletchley|
|Solent and Wessex||Portsmouth Direct Line, South Western Main Line||London Waterloo-Guildford-Portsmouth, London Waterloo-Basingstoke-Southampton-Bournemouth-Weymouth|
|South London Line||South London LinesTemplate:Dn, Oxted Line, Sutton & Mole Valley Lines||London Victoria & London Bridge to Croydon
London Victoria-East Grinstead/Uckfield/Sutton/Epsom Downs/Dorking/Horsham
|South Western Line||Alton Line, Waterloo-Reading Line South West London Suburban services via Wimbledon or Richmond||London Waterloo-Alton/Reading/Windsor/Guildford/Epsom/Chessington South/Dorking/Hampton Court/Kingston Circle/Shepperton/Hounslow Circle/Weybridge|
|Sussex Coast||Brighton Main Line, Arun Valley Line, East Coastway Line, West Coastway Line||London Victoria/London Bridge-Gatwick Airport-Brighton/Eastbourne/Littlehampton, Brighton-Hastings, Brighton-Portsmouth-Southampton|
|Thames||Great Western Main Line, Cotswold Line Windsor branch||London Paddington-Slough- (-Windsor-) Reading-Oxford-Worcester/Stratford|
|Waterloo & City||Waterloo & City Line||Waterloo-Bank|
|West Anglia||Fen Line, Lea Valley Line||London Liverpool Street-Harlow-Cambridge-King's Lynn (express services to Cambridge, and almost all services to King's Lynn, were subsequently transferred to the Great Northern route from London King's Cross); London Liverpool Street-Stansted Airport|
|West of England||West of England Main Line||London Waterloo-Basingstoke-Salisbury-Exeter|
Soon after conception, Network SouthEast started to modernise parts of the network, which were run down after years of under investment. The most extreme example was the 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; stations were empty and needed more than a lick of paint; and Marylebone only served infrequent local trains from High Wycombe and Aylesbury. The lines were the best place to reminisce about the glory days of steam as there were frequent steam railtour services. It was more of a heritage railway than a commuter railway.
NSE realised that something needed to be done to these lines quickly. Numerous plans for the lines were proposed. One serious plan was to close the line between Marylebone and South Ruislip/Harrow-on-the-Hill, meaning that Marylebone would close and be converted into a coach station. Metropolitan Line trains would be extended to Aylesbury and BR services from Aylesbury will be routed to London Paddington via High Wycombe. Also the line north of Princes Risborough would close. However, this did not happen due to the fact that London Baker Street and Paddington would not be 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 state of the art 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 and there are now plans to increase speeds and quadruple sections of the line, returning the line back to the state it was before the Beeching Axe.
Network South East started a programme of replacing old rolling stock up to privatisation.
- Chiltern - British Rail Class 165
- Great Eastern - British Rail Class 321
- Great Northern - British Rail Class 365
- Island Line - British Rail Class 483 (LU 1938 Stock) (Ex-Underground stock built from 1938; replaced older 1920s units)
- Kent Coast - British Rail Class 465, British Rail Class 466, British Rail Class 365
- North Downs - British Rail Class 165, British Rail Class 166
- Northampton Line - British Rail Class 321
- Solent and Wessex - British Rail Class 442
- South London Lines - British Rail Class 456
- Thames - British Rail Class 165, British Rail Class 166
- Thameslink British Rail Class 319
- Waterloo and City - British Rail Class 482 (LU 1992 Stock)
- West Anglia British Rail Class 317 and British Rail Class 322
- West of England British Rail Class 159
Note: The British Rail Class 168 were also planned by Network SouthEast for the Chiltern line for a planned service to Birmingham but privatisation intervened. However, new private operators Chiltern Railways ordered 5 Class 168/0 units based on the NSE designs in 1996 for their service to Birmingham Snow Hill.
After privatisation, NSE was divided up into several franchises:
|LTS Rail||London, Tilbury and Southend||Rebranded c2c|
|Chiltern Railways (management)||Chiltern||Unchanged|
|Great Eastern Railway||Great Eastern||Rebranded as First Great Eastern, then merged into larger franchise operated by National Express East Anglia, then passed on to Greater Anglia in 2012|
|Thames Trains|| North Downs|
Thames section (Gatwick/Redhill - Dorking/Guildford/Reading)
|Merged into larger franchise operated by First Great Western|
|Island Line||Island Line||Operated by Stagecoach South Western Trains, but is still called Island Line|
|North London Railways|| Northampton Line|
North London Line
|Rebranded as Silverlink, later split up into two franchises operated by Ernest Midland (Northampton) and London Overground (N.London)|
|South Eastern||Kent Coast, Kent Link, North Downs (Tonbridge- Redhill section)||Rebranded by original franchisee Connex as Connex South Eastern, then passed to South Eastern Trains, then to Southeastern|
|Network SouthCentral|| South London LineTemplate:Disambiguation needed|
|Rebranded by original franchisee Connex as Connex South Central, then passed to Southern|
|Thameslink||Thameslink||Merged into larger franchise operated by First Capital Connect|
|WAGN|| Great Northern|
|Split with GN merged into First Capital Connect and WA merged into National Express East Anglia, then passed on to Greater Anglia|
|South West Trains|| Solent & Wessex|
South Western Line
West of England Line
|Operated by Stagecoach South Western Trains, but is still called South West Trains|
- British Railways Board: London and South East Commuter Services, 1980 Competition Commission report
- British Railways Board: Network South East, 1987 Competition Commission report
- NSE Pages - Information and enthusiast website
- Network SouthEast Railway Society
- Pictures of Chiltern Lines prior to Total Route Modernisation
- Network SouthEast Years - Timetables, Maps, Publicity Leaflets, Tickets and much more.