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Chiltern Railways – most improved rail service ?
Member Name: libertybell
Date: 22/08/00, updated on 22/08/00 (202 review reads)
Advantages: transformed service, renewed franchise, dynamic, investment led
Disadvantages: will they keep promises ?
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
· given commuters in the south Birmingham area a
cheaper alternative to get to the smoke
· encouraged off-peak travel through specially priced
· 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.
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