Chiltern Main Line

Chiltern Main Line
68010 Chiltern Railways Hatton Bank 19-08-15 (20628237900).jpg
Chiltern Railways London to Birmingham express, hauled by a Class 68 diesel locomotive.
TypeCommuter rail, Heavy rail
SystemNational Rail
LocaleGreater London
South East England
East Midlands
West Midlands
TerminiLondon Marylebone
Birmingham Snow Hill
Opened1910 (complete line)
OwnerNetwork Rail
Operator(s)Chiltern Railways
West Midlands Trains (in part)
CrossCountry (in part)
GWR (in part)
Rolling stockClass 68 & Mk 3 Coaches
Class 150 "Sprinter"
Class 153 "Sprinter"
Class 165 "Network Turbo"
Class 168 "Clubman"
Class 170 "Turbostar"
Class 172 "Turbostar"
Class 220 "Voyager"
Class 221 "Super Voyager"
Line length112 mi 4 chains (180 km)
Number of tracks2
Track gauge4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge
Operating speed100 mph (160 km/h) maximum
Route map
Birmingham Snow Hill Midland Metro
Birmingham Moor Street
Small Heath
Acocks Green
Widney Manor
Warwick Parkway
Leamington Spa
Southam Road and Harbury
Stratford-upon-Avon and
Midland Junction Railway
Fenny Compton West
Kings Sutton
Aynho Junction
Aynho Park
Bicester North
Varsity Line &
Oxford–Bicester line
Varsity Line (Freight only)
Brill and Ludgershall
Dorton Halt
Haddenham &
Thame Parkway
Ilmer Halt
Princes Risborough
tracks diverge
West Wycombe
High Wycombe
Seer Green and Jordans
Gerrards Cross
Denham Golf Club
Denham Denham Aerodrome
Uxbridge High Street
South Harefield Halt
West Ruislip London Underground
Ruislip Gardens
South Ruislip London Underground Airport interchange
Northolt Park
Sudbury Hill Harrow
(London Underground Sudbury Hill)
Sudbury & Harrow Road
Wembley Stadium
Wembley Exhibition
Dudding Hill Line (Freight only)
London Marylebone London Underground

The Chiltern Main Line is an inter-urban, regional and commuter railway, part of the British railway system. It links London (Marylebone) and Birmingham (Moor Street and Snow Hill), the United Kingdom's two largest cities, by a 112-mile (180 km) route via High Wycombe, Banbury, and Leamington Spa.

It is one of two main line railway routes between London and Birmingham, the other being the West Coast Main Line between London Euston and Birmingham New Street, which is the principal InterCity route between the two cities.

The name Chiltern Line was invented as a marketing name for the line by Network SouthEast in 1985,[1] in reference to the Chiltern Hills which the route passes through near its southern end. The route was originally part of the Great Western Railway's main line from London Paddington to Birmingham Snow Hill, Wolverhampton Low Level and Birkenhead Woodside. Most main line services between London and Birmingham on this route were discontinued in 1967 after the West Coast Main Line was electrified, and Snow Hill station was closed.[2] Services were resumed between London and the reopened Snow Hill in 1993, however they were routed into Marylebone, formerly the London terminus of the now-closed Great Central Main Line, instead of the historic terminus at Paddington.[3]

Since the privatisation of British Rail in the 1990s, the main operator has been Chiltern Railways who have continued to develop the route and services. The line has undergone a major upgrade which has seen much of the line cleared for 100 mph (160 km/h) running, resulting in significant reductions in journey times from 2013. The line is not electrified, although electrification is an aspiration.[4]

The line forms part of the suburban rail networks in both cities. The majority of towns towards the London end of the route are prosperous suburbs or commuter-belt towns, such as Ruislip, Gerrards Cross and Beaconsfield. These have a journey time of 30 minutes or less to London Marylebone. In the West Midlands it is one of the Snow Hill Lines. Commuter trains operated by West Midlands Trains run between Birmingham Snow Hill, Solihull and Leamington Spa.

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