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CrossCountry (legal name XC Trains Limited[2]) is a train operating company in the United Kingdom owned by Arriva UK Trains, operating the New Cross Country franchise. It operates many intercity and other long-distance trains in the UK which do not serve Greater London, including the UK's longest direct rail service from Aberdeen in the north-east of Scotland to Penzance in Cornwall, in the south-west of England. It is one of only two franchised train operating companies that does not operate any stations, the other being the Caledonian Sleeper. All routes call at or terminate at Birmingham New Street.

XC HST at Plymouth - 11th September 2017.jpg
Franchise(s) New Cross Country
11 November 2007 - December 2019[1]
Main route(s) West Midlands, East Midlands, South West, Yorkshire and the Humber and North East
Other route(s) South East Wales, North West, East of England, South East and Scottish Lowlands
Fleet size
Stations called at 119
Stations operated 0
Route km operated 2,397.9
National Rail abbreviation XC
Parent company Arriva UK Trains




In June 2006 the Department for Transport announced its intention to restructure a number of franchises.[3] Included was a New Cross Country franchise that would incorporate the existing InterCity Cross Country franchise run by Virgin CrossCountry, less the West Coast Main Line services with the Birmingham to Scotland services transferring to Virgin West Coast and the Manchester to Scotland services transferring to First TransPennine Express. Some services from the Central Trains franchise were to be added.

In October 2006 the Department for Transport issued the Invitation to Tender to the shortlisted bidders, Arriva, FirstGroup, National Express and Virgin Rail Group.[4] On 10 July 2007 the Department for Transport announced that Arriva had won the New Cross Country franchise with the services operated by Virgin CrossCountry transferring to CrossCountry on 11 November 2007 along with the Cardiff to Nottingham and Birmingham to Stansted Airport services from Central Trains.[5][6]

Transfer and withdrawal of servicesEdit

After taking over the franchise, CrossCountry continued to operate the existing timetable including the West Coast Main Line services for four weeks. When the new timetable commenced on 9 December 2007, the Birmingham to Edinburgh and Glasgow services transferred to Virgin Trains West Coast and the Manchester to Edinburgh and Glasgow services transferred to First TransPennine Express.[7]

The tender did not require retention of the services beyond Guildford after December 2008, so the services to Gatwick Airport and Brighton ceased.[8][9] As a result, all CrossCountry services now completely avoid Greater London.

Additional servicesEdit

From December 2008 a daily Nottingham to Bournemouth service was introduced.

From December 2010 a number of services from Newcastle were extended from Reading to Southampton.[10]

From May 2011 a number of services were extended from Edinburgh to Glasgow to replace East Coast services.[11]

Extension of the franchiseEdit

Originally due to conclude on 31 March 2016, the franchise has been extended until December 2019.[12] The Invitation to Tender will be issued in October 2018 and the contract will be awarded in August 2019.[1]

Industrial actionEdit

In November and December 2017, CrossCountry on-board train managers and senior conductors affiliated with the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT) staged five 24-hour and two 48-hour strikes in an industrial dispute regarding staff rostering, in particular in relation to working on Sundays.[13][14][15][16] Further strikes were planned for January 2018, however, these were cancelled after CrossCountry and the RMT came to an agreement over staff working conditions on 11 January.[17]

Separate strike action was later threatened by the Transport Salaried Staffs' Association (TSSA) union later that month, with strikes planned for 26 January. These were in relation to CrossCountry staff being offered a 1% pay rise, compared to a 3.3% pay rise for staff at other Arriva-owned train operating companies. The planned industrial action by the TSSA was later cancelled, after CrossCountry agreed to match their demands for an equal pay rise.[18]


The company operates medium- and long-distance services that run outside of the London area. The network is centred at Birmingham, and all routes either terminate or pass through Birmingham New Street station.[19] Services can be categorised into two types:

  • Inter-City: long-distance, fast services between the South West of England and the North of England or Scotland via Birmingham; these routes are typically operated by Voyagers or HST sets;[20]
  • Regional: medium-distance, stopping or semi-fast services between Birmingham and other cities in the Midlands, as well as some longer runs to Wales and West Anglia. These are usually operated by Turbostars.[20]

CrossCountry's official website does show a distinction between the two types of services (for example, each one has a separate timetable booklet), but does not explicitly call them Inter-City and Regional.[21]


As of June 2017, the Monday-Saturday daytime services, with frequencies in trains per hour (tph), include:[22][23]

Route tph Calling at
Plymouth to Edinburgh Waverley (and Glasgow Central) 1 1tp2h to Edinburgh Waverley calling at Totnes, Newton Abbot, Exeter St Davids, Tiverton Parkway, Taunton, Bristol Temple Meads, Bristol Parkway, Cheltenham Spa, Birmingham New Street, Burton-on-Trent, Derby, Chesterfield, Sheffield, Wakefield Westgate, Leeds, York, Darlington, Durham, Newcastle, Berwick-upon-Tweed (irregular),[a] Dunbar
1tp2h to Glasgow Central calling at Totnes, Newton Abbot, Exeter St Davids, Tiverton Parkway, Taunton, Bristol Temple Meads, Bristol Parkway, Cheltenham Spa, Birmingham New Street, Tamworth, Derby, Chesterfield, Sheffield, Wakefield Westgate, Leeds, York, Darlington, Durham, Newcastle, Alnmouth (irregular),[b] Berwick-upon-Tweed (irregular)[a] Edinburgh Waverley, Haymarket, Motherwell
(Southampton Central and) Reading to Newcastle 1 Oxford, Banbury, Leamington Spa, Birmingham New Street, Derby, Sheffield, Doncaster, York, Darlington, Durham;
1tp2h runs from Southampton Central calling at Southampton Airport Parkway, Winchester, Basingstoke, Reading, then as above.
Bristol Temple Meads to Manchester Piccadilly 1 Bristol Parkway, Cheltenham Spa, Birmingham New Street, Wolverhampton, Stafford, Stoke-on-Trent, Macclesfield, Stockport
Bournemouth to Manchester Piccadilly 1 Brockenhurst, Southampton Central, Southampton Airport Parkway, Winchester, Basingstoke, Reading, Oxford, Banbury, Leamington Spa, Coventry, Birmingham International, Birmingham New Street, Wolverhampton, Stafford, Stoke-on-Trent, Macclesfield, Stockport
Route tph Calling at
Cardiff Central to Nottingham 1 Newport, Chepstow (irregular),[c] Lydney (1tp3h), Gloucester, Cheltenham Spa, University, Birmingham New Street, Wilnecote (Nottingham-bound only), Tamworth, Burton-on-Trent, Willington (limited), Derby, Long Eaton, Beeston
Birmingham New Street to Nottingham 1 Wilnecote (Birmingham-bound only), Tamworth, Burton-on-Trent, Derby
Birmingham New Street to Stansted Airport 1 Coleshill Parkway, Nuneaton, Leicester, Melton Mowbray, Oakham, Stamford, Peterborough, March, Ely, Cambridge, Audley End
Birmingham New Street to Leicester 1 Water Orton (1tp2h),[d] Coleshill Parkway, Nuneaton, Hinckley, Narborough, South Wigston (1tp2h)[d]
Route map

These services combine to provide higher frequencies on the following sections:

  • Birmingham to Bristol: two trains per hour
  • Birmingham to Leicester: two trains per hour
  • Birmingham to Manchester: two trains per hour
  • Birmingham to Newcastle: two trains per hour (one via Doncaster, one via Leeds)
  • Cheltenham to Birmingham: three trains per hour
  • Reading to Birmingham: two trains per hour (including one via Coventry)
  • Birmingham to Derby: four trains per hour

The Sunday service is mostly similar to the weekday service, except that the hourly Birmingham - Nottingham services do not run, while the other services do not start until late morning or early afternoon, and often have a slightly different stopping pattern.[22][23]


The above table shows the basic service pattern; however, a small number of these services are extended beyond their usual destination:[22]

Special servicesEdit

CrossCountry extended some of its Bournemouth services to Weymouth for the Sailing at the 2012 Olympics & Paralympics. There were two services Monday to Saturday in each direction, with one in each direction on Sundays. These ran express to Weymouth from Bournemouth. One train also operated a Weymouth to Bournemouth return journey, calling at Wareham and Poole.[24]

Future servicesEdit

CrossCountry's current (June 2017) consultation document proposes several improvements to the timetable in December 2017. These include:[25]

  • Extending all hourly Bristol–Manchester services to and from Exeter St Davids, providing a total of two trains per hour between Exeter and Birmingham;
  • Increasing the frequency of services during peak times on several routes;
  • An additional service to and from Aberdeen running in the early afternoon.

To allow these changes to take place, all CrossCountry services on some routes (which currently have a limited service) would be withdrawn and replaced with extra services run by other operators. These include:

In April 2017, it was announced that the morning and evening services to and from Aberdeen are no longer threatened with withdrawal, after it was revealed that ScotRail would not be able to provide the replacement services.[26]

Proposed servicesEdit

There is a proposal for a station at Worcester (Norton) Parkway where the Cross Country Route intersects the Cotswold Line. If built, it will be on two levels, with the low level served by CrossCountry, and the high level by Great Western Railway.[27]

Stations served only by CrossCountryEdit

CrossCountry does not manage any stations. The following stations are served only by CrossCountry but are managed by another train operating company:

East Midlands Trains West Midlands Trains
Burton-on-Trent Water Orton
Willington Coleshill Parkway
Hinckley Wilnecote
South Wigston

The high-level platforms at Tamworth are served only by CrossCountry, but are not considered a separate station from the low-level platforms. The whole station is therefore managed by the main operator of the low-level platforms, which is West Midlands Trains.

Manea was only served by CrossCountry until 2013, when Greater Anglia started running 1 train every two hours at the station in addition to the CrossCountry services there.

Other route informationEdit

To try and create a more pleasurable travelling experience, CrossCountry has designated four stations as alternative changeover stations. Cheltenham Spa, Derby, Leamington Spa and Wolverhampton were selected. The aim here was to make connection times shorter - with the stations selected being much smaller. For example, passengers travelling from Cardiff to Edinburgh could change at Cheltenham Spa instead of Birmingham New Street reducing transfer times - at Cheltenham Spa both trains would arrive and depart from the same platform. This avoids having to change trains at Birmingham New Street, which is a larger, more complex station. These four stations are marked on the CrossCountry route map, in yellow.


Latest performance figures released by NR (Network Rail) for this period (period 7 of 2013/2014) report a PPM (Public Performance Measure) of 89.2%[28] and a Moving Annual Average (MAA) up to 12 October 2013 of 87.4%. In early 2017 the paralympian Anne Wafula Strike complained that the company's failure to provide a working disabled accessible toilet had forced her to wet herself on a CrossCountry train.[29]

Rolling stockEdit

Class 170 Turbostar at Gloucester in September 2009
A 220011 Voyager at St Erth, working a service from Penzance to Manchester Piccadilly

CrossCountry services are operated using diesel trains only, since none of the routes it operates are fully electrified.

CrossCountry inherited 34 four-carriage Class 220 Voyagers and 40 five-carriage and 4 four-carriage Class 221 Super Voyagers from Virgin CrossCountry as well as 11 two-carriage and 18 three-carriage Class 170 Turbostars from Central Trains.[30]

In December 2007 Class 221 Super Voyagers 221101 - 113 and 221142 - 144 were transferred to Virgin West Coast with 221114 - 118 following in December 2008.[31]

A franchise commitment was the acquisition of ten Class 43 Power Cars and forty Mark 3 carriages. Midland Mainline had six Class 43 Power Cars and fourteen Mark 3 carriages that were off lease from November 2007 that were leased. The remaining four Class 43 Power Cars were ex Virgin CrossCountry examples in varying states of decay.[32] while the carriages were five ex Virgin CrossCountry Mark 3 carriages and twenty-one ex Virgin West Coast loco hauled Mark 3B carriages. Most had been in store at Long Marston for a few years.[33]

After driver training the ex Midland Mainline sets returned to service in May 2008 on Glasgow and Edinburgh to Plymouth diagrams while the other Class 43 Power Cars were overhauled at Brush Traction including repowering with MTU 16V4000R41 engines[34][35] and the Mark 3 carriages overhauled at Wabtec, Doncaster to a similar specification as GNER's Mallard refurbishments.[36][37] Once these were completed the ex Midland Mainline examples were also overhauled.[38]

To operate services to Paignton and Newquay on Summer Saturdays two High Speed Trains were hired from National Express East Coast in 2008.[39] High Speed Trains were hired from East Coast and East Midlands Trains on a number of occasions to operate services from Edinburgh Waverley to Plymouth when HSTs or Voyagers were unavailable

The Class 170 Turbostars were refurbished in 2008 with the three-carriage units repainted at Marcroft Engineering, Stoke on Trent, the two-carriage units at EWS' Toton depot and the interiors done by Transys Projects, Clacton-on-Sea including the fitting of first class seating to the Class 170/5s and 170/6s.[40][41]

The tilt function on the Class 221 Super Voyagers was removed in 2008. It was no longer required as tilt was not required on the parts of West Coast Main Line that CrossCountry serve.[42][43] CrossCountry said this change would improve the trains' reliability and reduce maintenance costs.

The Class 220 Voyagers and Class 221 Super Voyagers underwent refurbishment at Bombardier Transportation's Derby Litchurch Lane Works in 2008/09. This involved removing the shop, adding 25% extra luggage space and fourteen extra standard class seats to the Class 220 Voyagers and 20% extra luggage space and sixteen standard class seats to the Class 221 Super Voyagers.[44] The interiors were given a refresh in 2011/12 with the standard class seats recovered in the existing red and blue moquette and first class done with a maroon moquette. In summer 2014, CrossCountry began removing the quiet coach designation from such vehicles in its Voyager sets, believing them to be outdated and take up an excessive amount of space on a four-car unit. It is retaining the quiet coaches on its five HST sets.[45]

Current rolling stockEdit

 Class  Image  Type   Top speed   Coaches   Number   Built 
 mph   km/h 
43 High Speed Train   Diesel locomotive 125 200 2 + 7 10 1976–1982
Mark 3 Carriage   Passenger carriage 125 200 40 1975–1988
170 Turbostar   DMU 100 160 2 13 1999–2002
3 16
220 Voyager   DEMU 125 200 4 34 2000-2001
221 Super Voyager   DEMU 125 200 4 4 2001-2002
5 20

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b Mostly served hourly but there are two-hour and three-hour gaps between some services.
  2. ^ Mostly served two-hourly but there are four-hour gaps between some services.
  3. ^ Mostly served hourly but there are two-hour gaps between some services.
  4. ^ a b Services call alternately at Water Orton and South Wigston.
  5. ^ The proposed withdrawal does not include the morning/evening services that run only between Edinburgh and Dundee.


  1. ^ a b
  2. ^ "XC Trains Limited". Companies House. Retrieved 29 December 2017. 
  3. ^ New Cross Country Franchise Consultation Document Department for Transport June 2006
  4. ^ New Cross Country Franchise Invitation to Tender Department for Transport October 2006
  5. ^ New rail franchise to increase capacity between major cities Department for Transport Press Release 10 July 2007
  6. ^ Arriva welcomes new CrossCountry rail franchise award Archived 20 May 2012 at the Wayback Machine. Arriva Press Release 10 July 2007
  7. ^ "Bristol and Manchester linked every two hours in CrossCountry's December timetable" (PDF) (Press release). CrossCountry. 12 December 2007. 
  8. ^ CrossCountry. "Frequently Asked Questions: How will the timetable change and when?". Archived from the original on 22 August 2008. 
  9. ^ 2008 The End is nigh!
  10. ^ "New Southampton train services" (Press release). CrossCountry. 19 November 2010. 
  11. ^ "East Coast Welcomes Future New Timetable" (Press release). East Coast. 20 January 2010. Archived from the original on 9 April 2013. 
  12. ^ "Railway plan puts new focus on passengers" Secretary of State for Transport statement 26 March 2013
  13. ^
  14. ^
  15. ^
  16. ^
  17. ^
  18. ^
  19. ^ Network Map
  20. ^ a b Types of CrossCountry Train Cross Country
  21. ^ Train Timetables Cross Country
  22. ^ a b c Intercity timetable, May 2017
  23. ^ a b Regional Timetable, May 2017
  24. ^ "London 2012 Olympic Games". CrossCountry. Retrieved 26 June 2012. 
  25. ^ "CrossCountry Future Timetable Consultation" (PDF). Retrieved 22 December 2016. 
  26. ^ Plans to cut CrossCountry trains to Aberdeen to be scrapped - Edinburgh Evening News
  27. ^ "New county train station is a good idea, says Government". Worcester News. 1 August 2012.
  28. ^ "Rail performance results period 7". Network Rail. 
  29. ^ "Paralympian forced to wet herself on train without accessible toilet". The Guardian. 2 January 2017. Retrieved 2 January 2017. 
  30. ^ Class 170 History Railway UK - UK Railway Information
  31. ^ Rail Magazine Issue 575 26 September 2007 Page 16
  32. ^ Ex Virgin HST Power Car List
  33. ^ Rail Magazine Issue 586 27 February 2008 Page 62
  34. ^ CrossCountry signs deal to overhaul High Speed Trains Archived 20 May 2012 at the Wayback Machine. Arriva Press Release 24 January 2008
  35. ^ MTU fitted Class 43 HST powercars TheRailwayCentre.Com
  36. ^ Deal signed to refurbish high speed train carriages CrossCountry Press Release 22 April 2008
  37. ^ Project Profile HST trailer cars Archived 31 August 2012 at the Wayback Machine. Wabtec Rail
  38. ^ CrossCountry Unveils First Refurbished HST CrossCountry Press Release 1 October 2008
  39. ^ More CrossCountry seats for Holidaymakers CrossCountry Press Release 27 March 2008
  40. ^ Refurbishment of Class 170 Turbostar trains begins CrossCountry Press Release 30 January 2008
  41. ^ CrossCountry's first refurbished Turbostar enters service CrossCountry Press Release 19 May 2008
  42. ^ Miles, Tony (August 2008). "CrossCountry stops tilting". Modern Railways. London. p. 71. 
  43. ^ Rail Magazine Issue 595 2 July 2008 Page 8
  44. ^ Rail Magazine Issue 589 9 April 2008 Page 23
  45. ^ Rail Magazine, Issue 755, 20 August 2014, pp. 60-61.

External linksEdit

  Media related to CrossCountry at Wikimedia Commons

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