“ 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. Going by the "peak time" punctuality statistics published by the Strategic Rail Authority, they are the 5th most punctual train operating company. Chiltern operate services on four routes: Chiltern Main Line, London to Aylesbury Line, Princes Risborough to Aylesbury Line, Leamington to Stratford Line. „
Ditch your Virgin tickets now and head towards Chiltern railways. If you want to go from Birmingham to London cheaply and actually arrive on time (or arrive at all), then Chiltern Railways is the way to go!
The Birmingham to London route starts at Birmingham Snow Hill and goes to London Marylebone. Along the way it stops at Birmingham Moor Street, Warwick, Leamington Spa, Banbury, Bicester North and High Wycombe. The journey time is just under two hours.
London Marylebone is a small station but just as handy as any other. It has a tube station as well, and as the station is small, it's a matter of a few minutes to get off your train and onto the tube. The tube station is on the Bakerloo line so you can get around London just as easily.
Birmingham Snow HIll and Moor Street stations are easily accessible from the centre of Birmingham and Moor Street is a five minute walk from New Street station. Like Marylebone, they are small but contain what you need. Moor St has a small cafe and a newsagents.
The best thing about the journey is the trains. They are clean, tidy, don't smell, they have charge points for your mobile/laptop, quiet zones, a buffet cart service and toilets. What more could you want or need. I use this line several times a year and have never experienced a serious delay or problem.
They have a range of special offers for London tickets. If you book in advance, they have tickets from £5 for a single. All you have to do is book the time of the train. The ticket is emailed or texted to you, so all you have to do is print it off, or remember to take your mobile. Tickets available to buy on the day can be decently priced as well, especially if you're not travelling at peak times.
I travel regularly from London to Birmingham and find the Chiltern Railways route to be really useful.
The trains leave from Marylebone and go into Birmingham Moor Street or Snow Hill.
The more popular route is the Euston / New Street route with Virgin rail. However this can be expensive.
Marylebone station is very easy to use, it is a small station so no long hike from the tube, to the plaforms or to the shops. Although small, it still has the essentials like WHSmith and M&S food.
Moor Street and Snow Hill are both in the centre of Birmingham, Moor Street is very close to the Bull Ring and from either station is about 5-10 mins to New Street station if you need it for connections.
The advantages of the Chiltern Railways trains are that they are very comfortable. There are plenty of tables and most chairs have access to power sockets for mobile phone chargers or laptops.
The other advantage is the excellent fares. They have good advance fares but they also have an off-peak return fare of £18.90 - although this is restricted to certain trains, it offers excellent value as it is a walk up fare and you aren't tied to certain trains.
The journey is also very pleasant, most trains don't stop for a hour or so and you can generally get a seat. The countryside that the train travels through is lovely.
The disadvantages are that the train journey takes around 2hrs which is quite a bit longer than Virgin. If I could get a bargain fare with Virgin I would probably travel with them but once their cheap fares go they are really expensive and this is where Chiltern wins out.
I get this train from Birmingham down to London Marylebone and have had some very pleasant journeys! There are many attributes to this train service that may suit you very well, and some that beat other trainlines!
:) Space availability- I've never had a reserved seat on these trains but find they are very spacious, with many seats and tables available. They do fill up when you get nearer London but the train is very open and airy so you can never feel clostrophobic or stuffy.
:) Many cool tables- It's a nice contrast from the stuffy Virgin carriages to find cool white tables in funky round shapes. There are so many tables available, you wonder why more trains don't have so many!
:) Colour scheme- Cool white and blue, not stuffy or suffocating by having carpets and fuzzy chairs. These trains are very airy and relaxing. You don't feel sleepy, you feel bright.
:) The journey- There's no endless fields and loads of stops. There's something about the journey that feels like you stay within cities so you stay awake and refreshed, not bored? Not sure if that is psychological but you don't feel worn out, like you've travelled forever through the countryside from one end of the country to another!
:) The price. I once travelled from Birmingham to London for £3.30! Can't beat that!
Any gripes? No not really! There seems to be no food or drink on this train, which may have changed and you might prefer this, so bring your own for much cheaper! Also the journey is a little longer than what Virgin offers.
Chiltern railways is in my opinion Britains best rail service. They opearte services between London and Birmingham and I would say that Chiltern is your best bet for travel between London and Birmingham. Even though Virgin are faster the Chiltern service is far superior. The excellence Begins as soon as you reach Marylebone station which has the best atmosphere of all London termini. The station is small, clean and maintained to a very high standard with less crowds then you get at other stations such as Euston. There are good catering outlets with a Bagel Bar, a Soup Stall and the more common Burger King and Upper Crust. There is also a small pub that serves real ales. Shops include a flower stall, barbers and WHSmith. Toilets here are free and cleaner then other stations. The only real downside Marylebone is that it is only served by the Bakerloo Line. However Baker Street is within walking distance and coming off a sub surface line (Circle, H&C and Metropoliton) it is probably best to walk. However from the Jubilee it is easiest to get the Bakerloo one stop as it is on the same level. There are 2 train types class 165 and class 168. The Newer trains are the class 168 which are excellent. They are spacious with a good ambience, better than the current Virgin stock. Seating is 2+2 with a mixture of face to face and airline(airline seats are not cramped). They are also air conditioned. Class 168 units mostly operate the weekday London to Birmingham Services. The other trains are the Class 165. They are around 10 years old and operate mostly on shorter services. They have 2+3 seating. Their ambience is not as good as the class 168 units. They are due for refurbishment. This will hopefully make their ambience similer to the class 168 units. There are of a good standard for outer suburban services. However the 3+2 seating makes the slightly too cramped for london to birmingham services. Chiltern trains are punctual.
I think 5 minutes is about the longest delay I have ever had compared with frequent half hour delays with Virgin. I would reccomend that you traval with chiltern when there are engineering works on the West Coast Main Line in the Autumn. Rather then using the replacement bus service which could add an hour on the journey.
Introduction ~~ Well the British railways are in a bit of a state. Unsafe, late and unreliable are three words that come to mind. Well those three words don’t go with all of Britain’s railways. Well those three words certainly don’t go with Chiltern Railways, who I use a lot. They provide services between Birmingham, the West Midlands and London. Though I only use their service to travel into London from Beaconsfield or Gerrards Cross or go from Beaconsfield to Gerrards Cross to see friends. Frequency of trains ~~ Out of the many times I have used Chiltern Railways the train has never been more than 5 minutes late. And usually it is dead on time or early. Yes I bet your thinking if only all British rail services were like Chiltern Railways. Trains are very frequent in the week and on Saturdays but trains are very infrequent on Sundays and the service is restricted. The service is also interrupted on Sundays due to track maintenance. Value ~~ If you are only going a couple of stations Chiltern appear quite bad value but if you are going a fair distance or to London for example from Beaconsfield Chiltern Railways are quite reasonable. For me (a child) it costs £5 for a one-day return travel card from Beaconsfield to London. I think that is quite reasonable and well-priced as London is about 25 miles from Beaconsfield. And as that’s a travel card it also includes the tube in London and buses. But for me to go to Gerrards Cross from Beaconsfield; two towns within 3 or 4 miles of each other it is about £2.50 return. However I do confess that I don’t often bother with a ticket as there are no barriers at either station and there is never a guard onboard other than at peak times. Doing that though does run the risk of a £10 fine plus your fare! Comfort ~~ All of Chiltern Railways trains are fairly new and they are always clean and comfortable. The seats are bright blue and comfortable and
there is ample legroom. And on all services there is at least one first class carriage, the seats in first class are larger and more comfortable. Oh and there bright red instead of blue! And as I said before as there is rarely a guard there is nothing stopping you going in first class. Though be warned you will have to pay the difference in fares if there is a guard! Snacks! ~~ On most trains there is a snack trolley offering sandwiches, soft drinks, tea and coffee and some alcoholic drinks. Though it is rather expensive so I don’t usually bother and instead buy something at the station. Overall ~~ Overall Chiltern Railways are excellent, the only disadvantage being that fares are expensive to go one or two stations. Apart from that Chiltern Railways are brilliant, they prove that not all British railway services are bad. They’re trains are new and clean. They’re trains usually run on time and their prices are reasonable if you are going quite a long way.
Given the current state of the nation's rail network, a railway company that gives a consistently good service ought perhaps to be regarded as bordering on the miraculous. Nevertheless credit should be given where it is due, and that's certainly the case where Chiltern Railways are concerned. They're a relatively small Train Operating Company (TOC), which admittedly gives them an edge over the sprawling networks of such outfits as Virgin, but even so the contrast between Chiltern and many of their competitors is stark. Competition was always given as one of the main reasons given for privatisation (well, Mr Major could hardly come out with the truth, ie "we're going to get hammered at the next election, so we'd better push this through as part of a scorched-earth policy to make Prescott look stupid and to hell with the public", could he?). Unfortunately, the great majority of routes still have no competition at all, which has led to the worst of all worlds - an inefficient private monopoly. Birmingham to London, though, is one of the few major journeys on which the passenger has a genuine choice. At the top, you have Virgin - when it is working, it's often an excellent service, but its "turn up and go" fares are ludicrously expensive, and there are far too many restrictions on cheap (well, less extortionate) tickets. At the other end of the scale, Silverlink provide a rock-bottom, no-frills service which is certainly cheap - but it's barely above bus levels of comfort. Chiltern have aimed from the start to fill this gap, and it's a task they perform admirably. Unlike Virgin and Silverlink, which operate from Birmingham New Street to London Euston, Chiltern use a different route, from Snow Hill to Marylebone. Snow Hill, to be frank, is not the most auspicious place to begin a journey - it's a soulless, windswept place, devoid of much in the way of comfort or facilities. The toilets are almost a
lways "temporarily closed due to vandalism", which I fear prefigures a move to that dreadful system used in an increasing number of stations whereby a passenger has to trek back to the ticket office (a long way) to get a key, use the toilet, return the key, and arrive back at the platform just in time to see the train disappear into the distance. The only place to get anything to eat (given that the chocolate machines have languished unmended for months) is a tiny shop, whose staff are friendly and helpful but which closes ridiculously early in the evening. Oh, and despite the (welcome) presence of litter bins, it's normally not all that clean. On the plus side, though, buying a ticket is a lot more pleasant. Chiltern's conditions are straightforward, something which is very welcome if you have previously spent hours and hours trying to wade through Virgin's close-on impenetrable terms. The general gist of it is that, going from Birmingham to London, you can catch any train from 7:45am onwards; coming back, you can catch any train except the 6:00pm. Simple and sensible. And the prices are sensible, too - a day return including a One Day all-zones Travelcard is £26. I'd guess that spending that with Virgin might get you about as far as the outskirts of Coventry. An increasing number of Chiltern's trains are "Clubmans" - this means that they have only one class of seating. I never travel First Class anyway, but even those who do shouldn't be upset, as the level of comfort is a revelation for those used to the usual cramped and dirty commuter trains. There is a *lot* of legroom - you won't have to worry about deep vein thrombosis here! - and the armrests are (almost unbelievably for a modern train) well designed. All the 2x2 seats have a decent table on the back of the seat in front, large and sturdy enough to work on, rather than the tiny plastic horrors rail companies normally inflict on you, which is
another welcome touch; and the chairs themselves are far more comfortable than pretty much any in modern trains. (To digress for a moment, it does seem odd that despite all the wonders of modern design, almost any 30-year old loco-hauled stock is more comfortable. Perhaps certain TOCs could try building the interiors out of solid wood rather than flimsy plastic... nah, I'm being silly - why should they want to put public service before profitable sardine-packing?) An electronic display board in each carriage carries a constant scrolling readout of the stops remaining on the journey, and seems to be very reliable - I've rarely seen a dead one - which contrasts sharply with certain of the other "super wonder new improved" designs, which often either give out completely or display some totally inappropriate message such as "Happy Christmas" (in July!). There are also the traditional voiceover announcements, of course, but even here there is often a discernible trace of pride in the "thank you for travelling with Chiltern" type of comments - something you would never get with many other companies, who snap at you as though you should be really grateful they even bothered to stop for you at all. The journey itself is usually pretty uneventful, which is exactly how a train journey should be - the ride is smooth, noise is kept ot a minimum, and (wonder of wonders) even the windows are clean! If all trains ran as well as this, there would be a lot less talk of a crisis in Britain's rail network. Chiltern's recent winning of a new 20-year franchise (thank heavens it was won before the Government's idiotic decision to grant only short-term franchises for the foreseeable future) has allowed it to make solid commitments - increasing the number of "Clubman" trains; running through trains to Stourbridge (and possibly even Kidderminster - hooray!); doubling a single-track bottleneck in Oxfordshire - whic
h inspire confidence in its abilities. Now there's something you don't often see said about a TOC. One innovation that (I regret to say) doesn't really work is the "mobile phone-free" carriage. Too many people are simply too lazy, or too stupid, or very probably both, to bother to read the signs. On one trip not so long ago a young man a couple of seats in front was yattering away about his (extremely boring) work almost the entire way - I was very, very close to doing something I shouldn't have... still, maybe this will be like no smoking signs, which were also widely ignored at first, but seem to have an effect now. And indeed, although I might be imagining it, I do get the very slight impression that the rules are starting to have an effect. One or two quite forceful voiceovers by the guard might have had an effect, though...! Chiltern's London terminus is Marylebone, which is another point in its favour. The relaxed, civilised atmosphere is a world away from the noise and crowds of Euston, and (I know this is a mean thing to say, but still...) there are a heck of a lot fewer beggars around. You can't get the regional papers, though. On the other hand, there is still a decent range of shops and places to eat - even a little supermarket, though quite why I should want to buy a tin of sweetcorn after my journey I don't quite know. The clinching factor is that, unlike New Street or Euston, the toilets are clean, regularly patrolled, noticeably lacking in discarded needles... and free! There is no real doubt about it: Chiltern Railways are far and away the best choice for the private traveller who can't book well in advance. If you're going to put the cost on an expenses claim, then by all means take the easy option and go with Sir Beard, but if you (like me) are one who has to dig into your own pocket, then there isn't really a better option. Just don't fill up all the places, eh?
Chiltern Railways – ever heard of them ? Well probably not. They’re doing rather well and as the majority of the media cannot cope with railway success stories (correction – it does not sell newspapers) very little is said about them. Well they must be doing something right as they have been provisionally awarded a 20-year contract. This is the first franchise announcement and a renewal can be seen as a vote of confidence. Chiltern Railways (CR) is the name of the company owned by M40 trains and have held the franchise since 1996 when it took over from British Rail. CR operates out of Marylebone Station (near to the Lords Cricket Ground). It runs a Diesel Multiple Unit (DMU) Service between there and Birmingham Snow Hill via High Wycombe, Banbury and Solihull. It spent a small fortune on new rolling stock including what are called Class 168 ‘Clubmans’. These provide a superior level of comfort and are primarily used on business services between Birmingham and the capital. So how good are Chiltern ? Lets go back to the bad old BR days (a figure of speech !!). BR was losing money on the route from Marylebone to Banbury – trains terminated at Banbury in those days. The rolling stock was 30 years old – clapped out, smelly, shook a bit – do the memories flood back ? To save cost, they reduce great lengths of the line to Banbury to single track. It was to coin a phrase a real ‘Cinderella service’. There was even talk of turning Marylebone into a coach station and ‘tarmacing’ over the railway line !! With a bit of money, imagination and commitment – CR have: · introduced an hourly through service between the 2 cities · given commuters in the south Birmingham area a cheaper alternative to get to the smoke · encouraged off-peak travel through specially priced tickets · wooed the business passenger with
the Clubman train. In their franchise bid, CR have promised to: · re-open the long-closed Aylesbury-Oxford line · do the same with the Oxford-Bedford line · re-open the line north of Aylesbury – possibly all the way to Leicester ! · improve their already good reliability record I cannot comment on the service from personal experience as they do not run into Reading though I understand that M40 may be bidding for the Thames Train contract. So a much-improved service and probably one of the few real success stories of a company turning round an existing poor service.