Cross Country Route
|Cross Country Route|
Bristol Temple Meads
The North-East/South-West route (sometimes simply The Cross-Country Route) is the major British rail route running from South-West England via Bristol, Birmingham, Derby and Sheffield to North-East England and Scotland. It includes some of the longest inter-city rail journeys in the UK, eg Penzance to Aberdeen) It was also a major freight route, although now largely usurped by the M5, M6 and M1 motorways.
The route shares parts of the Great Western Main Line, Midland Main Line, Sheffield to Hull Line, the East Coast Main Line and the core Bristol-Birmingham-Derby route, which serves the following cities, towns and villages.
- Bristol Temple Meads
- Filton Abbey Wood
- Bristol Parkway
- Cam and Dursley
- Cheltenham Spa
- Ashchurch for Tewkesbury
- A loop from the main route serves
- Worcester Shrub Hill
- the Lickey Incline out of Bromsgrove
- Barnt Green
- The Cross-City Line follows the route from here to Birmingham New Street
- Birmingham University
- Birmingham New Street
- Water Orton
- Burton upon Trent
Cross-country trains do not serve all these stations. The Birmingham to Gloucester section was originally built as the Birmingham and Gloucester Railway. See also the Birmingham and Bristol Railway and Birmingham and Derby Junction Railway.
It long had 'Cinderella' status because it ran through five different regions of British Rail and had timetabling priority in none of them. This was offset somewhat on privatisation when the route was awarded as a single franchise to Virgin Trains. (The route corresponds broadly to Virgin VT3.)
In the 1960s the route was understood to be 'pencilled in for electrification - this would have been particularly beneficial for climbing the Lickey Incline into Birmingham from Cheltenham. However, this improvement did not take place, and modern multiple-units such as the new Turbostars and Virgin Voyagers have made this unnecessary.
The XC Network is now served by Class 220/221 Voyager Trains. These trains are capable of achieving 125 mph, compared to the previous Class 47s and Mk 2 coaching stock, which had a top speed of 95 mph. Since the Voyager trains arrived the XC network has stopped serving Inverness, Blackpool, Portsmouth, London Paddington and Liverpool. The Class 221 can tilt on some areas of the West Coast Main Line leading to a faster, more comfortable journey.
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|Main line railways in Great Britain:|
|High-speed main lines:||Channel Tunnel Rail Link|
|'Classic' main lines:|| Cross-Country Route East Coast Main Line Great Eastern Main Line |
Great Western Main Line Midland Main Line West Coast Main Line