Langstone Rock MMB 02 220032.jpg
Franchise(s): Cross Country
11 November 2007 – 1 April 2016
Main route(s):
Fleet size:
Stations called at: 100
Stations operated: 0
Passenger km 2007/8: 1136.6 million
Route km operated: 2661.9
National Rail abbreviation: XC
Parent company: Arriva, part of Deutsche Bahn
Web site:

CrossCountry (sometimes known as CrossCountry Trains) is the brand name of XC Trains Ltd., a British train operating company owned by Arriva. The company operates a network of express and long-distance train services between a variety of towns and cities outside London which includes Britain's longest direct railway journey, the 08:20 from Aberdeen to Penzance which takes 13 hours and 23 minutes to complete. [1]



The CrossCountry franchise was formed through the amalgamation of most of the former Cross Country franchise held by Virgin Trains with some of the longer-distance routes operated by Midlands-based Central Trains. On 10 July 2007, the Department for Transport announced that Arriva plc had won the rights to the franchise,[2] with the company taking control on 11 November 2007.


The company operates a number of key inter-city routes outside London including the Cross Country Route from the North East to the South West, as well as a range of shorter-distance regional express services.

Unlike most other franchise operators in Great Britain, CrossCountry does not manage any stations, even though there are certain stations served by no operator other than CrossCountry.


The hourly service operates on each basic route:

No Route Rolling stock
1 Plymouth to Edinburgh Waverley (via Leeds & Newcastle) (Super) Voyagers & HSTs
2 Reading to Newcastle (via Doncaster or Leeds) (Super) Voyagers
3 Bristol Temple Meads to Manchester Piccadilly (Super) Voyagers
4 Bournemouth to Manchester Piccadilly (via Coventry) (Super) Voyagers
5 Cardiff Central to Nottingham (via Birmingham New Street) Turbostars
6 Birmingham New Street to Leicester and Stansted Airport Turbostars
Route map


There are extensions to the basic service pattern:

On Summer Saturdays, there are trains to Newquay from various parts of the network.


Class 220 No. 220011 at Newton Abbot

Typically, during weekday daytimes, each of these six routes sees one CrossCountry train per hour, with the exception of Birmingham–Leicester and Birmingham–Nottingham (which each see two). These services combine to provide higher frequencies on the following sections:

  • Bristol to Cheltenham: 2 trains per hour
  • Cheltenham to Birmingham: 3 trains per hour
  • Reading to Leamington: 2 trains per hour
  • Birmingham to Derby: 4 trains per hour
  • Derby to Sheffield: 2 trains per hour
  • York to Newcastle: 2 trains per hour
  • Birmingham to Leicester: 2 trains per hour (of which one per hour carries on to Stanstead Airport).
  • Birmingham to Manchester: 2 trains per hour
  • Birmingham to Nottingham: 2 trains per hour

Sunday Service

Service on Sundays is slightly different from the normal core routes. The routes on Sundays are:

  • Plymouth to Newcastle via Doncaster (some extensions to Penzance and Edinburgh)
  • Cardiff Central to Birmingham New Street
  • Birmingham New Street to Nottingham
  • Birmingham New Street to Manchester Piccadilly
  • Reading to Edinburgh/via Birmingham and Leeds (some extensions to Glasgow Central and Aberdeen)
  • Birmingham New Street to Leicester/Stansted Airport

Services withdrawn or transferred

All of the services operated via the West Coast Main Line by the previous Cross Country franchisee, Virgin Trains, passed to other operators: trains between Manchester and Scotland transferred to First Transpennine Express, while trains between Birmingham and Glasgow became part of an enlarged West Coast franchise operated by Virgin Trains.

The tender for the franchise did not include retaining services south east of Guildford to Brighton and Gatwick Airport and all such services ceased on 13 December 2008. Passengers for Gatwick Airport now have to use connecting services from Reading.[3]

Future services

Plans were included by CrossCountry to reopen the railway station at Kenilworth. In April 2008, it agreed with Warwickshire county council to draw up a business case.[4]

There are proposals for a station at Worcester (Norton) Parkway, near the city of Worcester, currently bypassed by CrossCountry's trains. If this station is built, then it may be served by CrossCountry services.

There are talks taking place that may see CrossCountry services go through from Edinburgh to Glasgow via Carstairs, replacing the services currently provided by East Coast Trains.[5]

From December 2010, some trains were extended from Reading to Southampton Central on the route to and from Newcastle.[6]

Stations served only by CrossCountry

CrossCountry does not manage any stations. Following stations are served only by CrossCountry but are managed by London Midland, East Midlands Trains or National Express East Anglia:

East Midlands Trains London Midland National Express
Burton-on-Trent Water Orton Manea
Willington Coleshill Parkway
Hinckley Wilnecote
South Wigston


Class 220 at Birmingham New Street

Latest performance figures released by the ORR show a slight fall in punctuality this quarter (fourth quarter of 2010/2011) with a PPM of 88.7%[7] and a Monthly Annual Average (MAA) up to 31 March 2011 of 88.2%.


Under the control of the previous franchisee, Virgin Trains, Cross Country services were increased in frequency, but using shorter trains. Intended to provide a more attractive service without reducing overall capacity, this strategy left the company struggling to accommodate peak loads on popular services or the ongoing growth in passenger numbers.[8] It also led to the withdrawal of services from previously-served destinations such as Poole[9] as the company concentrated its rolling stock on its core network.

The now defunct Strategic Rail Authority refused to underwrite the cost for Virgin Trains to order additional rolling stock. CrossCountry has since added five refurbished HST sets to its fleet. The removal of on-board shops to create additional luggage space has attracted criticism from passengers and MPs in the Westcountry. The removal of bays of seating around tables and the addition of more seats with reduced legroom has been criticised, after Arriva promised to increase the seating capacity of their trains, which was believed[by whom?] to refer to lengthening of the trains themselves.[10][11]

CrossCountry was also criticised for introducing the first £1,000 fare in Britain in November 2009, for a first-class return between Newquay and Kyle of Lochalsh.[12] A little over a year earlier, the same fare had cost under £500.[12] Commentators noted that CrossCountry was charging over £100 for the trip between Par and Newquay, even though the trains operating it have no first-class compartments, and First Great Western, which operates the service, charges as little as £3.90 for a day's unlimited travel on the line.[citation needed]

Rolling stock

CrossCountry HST at Newcastle

Multiple-unit fleet

Virgin CrossCountry previously operated the Class 220 and Class 221 DEMUs. Twenty-one Class 221 units have been transferred to the Virgin West Coast franchise to operate the North Wales route and the West Midlands to Scotland services. CrossCountry also use Class 170 Turbostars inherited from Central Trains. Class 220s and 221s underwent refurbishment at Bombardier, Derby. This included removing the shop and adding extra luggage space. The refurbishment was completed in August 2009.

HST fleet

The first CrossCountry-liveried HST powercar was released from its overhaul at Brush Traction, Loughborough on 16 July 2008. To identify its fleet, CrossCountry is renumbering all of its HST units by adding an extra 200 to the old number, the newly repainted HST being 43301 (originally 43101). 43301 had to be completely rebuilt by Brush Traction, as it has been out of service for more than 5 years. As a standard, CrossCountry is installing MTU Friedrichshafen engines to replace the old Paxman Valenta ones, and is repainting the units into the two-tone CrossCountry livery of grey/silver and chocolate brown. At present 5 x Mark 3 TSO's (1 out of each HST set) are currently stored and 1 set (XC01) went on loan to East Coast for 2 Months between January and March 2010. From the December 2009 timetable change the number of weekday HST diagrams was reduced, from 4 to 2 (3 on Mondays/Fridays). All HST's are currently 2+7.

 Class  Image  Type   Top speed   Number   Built 
 mph   km/h 
Class 43 High Speed Train CrossCountry-HST-at-BHM.jpg Diesel locomotive 125 200 10 1976–1982
Mark 3 Coach Set No 3 B TCC 45003.JPG Passenger coach 125 200 40 1975–1988
Class 170 Turbostar CrossCountry 170397 Peterborough AB.JPG Diesel multiple unit 100 160 29 1999–2002
Class 170 Cross Country Diagram.PNG
Class 220 Voyager CrossCountry Class 220.jpg Diesel-electric multiple unit 125 200 34 2001
Class 221 Super Voyager CrossCountry SuperVoyager.JPG Diesel-electric multiple unit 125 200 23 2001

See also


  1. ^
  2. ^ "Department for Transport announces winner of New Cross Country franchise". Department for Transport. 10 July 2007. 
  3. ^ CrossCountry. "Frequently Asked Questions: How will the timetable change and when?". Archived from the original on 22 August 2008. Retrieved 1 September 2008. 
  4. ^ "Kenilworth Station stays on track". Warwickshire County Council. 7 April 2008. Retrieved 12 June 2008. 
  5. ^ Tree, Oliver (17 November 2009). "Rail chief: Glasgow-London trains may be cut". The Scotsman (Edinburgh). Retrieved 3 April 2010. 
  6. ^ "Route Plans 2009 ­ Route Plan 3 ­ South West Main Line". Network Rail. 30 March 2009. Retrieved 3 April 2010. 
  7. ^ "National Rail Trends Chapter 2". ORR. 
  8. ^ "Overcrowded Trains - Your comments". BBC Inside Out West Midlands. 16 January 2009. 
  9. ^ "CrossCountry December 2008 draft timetable". TravelWatch SouthWest. 2008. Retrieved 3 April 2010. 
  10. ^ "The railway dining car now leaving...". Western Morning News (Plymouth). 18 April 2009. 
  11. ^ "Railway firm to end buffet cars". BBC News Online. 23 July 2007. Retrieved 2 January 2010. 
  12. ^ a b "First £1,000 rail fare criticised". BBC News Online. 3 November 2009. Retrieved 3 April 2010. 

External links

Preceded by
Central Trains
Central franchise
Operator of Cross Country franchise
2007 - present
Preceded by
Virgin Trains
Cross Country franchise

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  • Crosscountry — Cross|coun|try auch: Cross|count|ry 〈 [krɔskʌ̣ntrı] n.; Gen.: s, Pl.: s; Sport〉 Syn. Cross (2) 1. 〈bes. Radsport〉 Geländelauf 2. Querfeldeinrennen der Pferde [Etym.: <engl. cross country »querfeldein«] …   Lexikalische Deutsches Wörterbuch

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