CrossCountry (legal name XC Trains Limited[1]) is a train operating company in the United Kingdom owned by Arriva UK Trains, operating the Cross Country franchise. It operates intercity and other long-distance passenger trains across Great Britain, but does not serve Greater London. It operates the UK's longest direct rail passenger service, from Aberdeen in the north-east of Scotland to Penzance in western Cornwall, which has a journey time of more than 13 hours.

Dawlish Warren MMB 07 South Devon Main Line 220032.jpg
  • New CrossCountry
  • 11 November 2007 - October 2023
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 at120
Parent companyArriva UK Trains
Reporting markXC
Other Edit this at Wikidata
Route map
CrossCountry network.svg

CrossCountry is one of only two franchised train operating companies that does not manage any stations, the other being Caledonian Sleeper. The company's network is centred around Birmingham New Street.



In June 2006, the Department for Transport (DfT) announced its intention to restructure a number of franchises.[2] The changes created a 'New Cross Country' franchise that would incorporate the existing InterCity Cross Country franchise run by Virgin CrossCountry, without the West Coast Main Line services (with the Birmingham to Scotland services transferring to Virgin Trains 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 DfT issued the invitation to tender to the shortlisted bidders: Arriva, FirstGroup, National Express and Virgin Rail Group.[3] On 10 July 2007 the department 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.[4][5]

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 New Street to Edinburgh Waverley and Glasgow Central services transferred to Virgin Trains West Coast and the Manchester Airport to Edinburgh and Glasgow services transferred to First TransPennine Express.[6]

The tender did not require retention of the services beyond Guildford after December 2008, so the services to Gatwick Airport and Brighton ceased.[7] As a result, all CrossCountry services now completely avoid Greater London. A daily service between Reading and Guildford continued until withdrawn in July 2020.

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.[8]

From May 2011, a number of services were extended from Edinburgh to Glasgow to replace East Coast services.[9]

Extension of the franchiseEdit

Originally due to conclude on 31 March 2016, the franchise was extended until December 2019.[10] An Invitation to Tender was to be issued in October 2018 for the next franchise,[11] but in September 2018 the competition was cancelled to allow the recommendations from a report into the franchise system to be incorporated.[12] In July 2019 the Direct Award was further extended by one year to end in October 2020[13] but in September 2020 it was announced that emergency agreements with train operating companies introduced due to the COVID-19 pandemic in the United Kingdom were to be extended for 18 months and that all passenger rail franchising in Great Britain was abandoned.[14] In October 2020, the DfT confirmed that the franchise has been extended for a further three years to finish in October 2023.[15]

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.[16][17][18][19] 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.[20]

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.[21]


The company operates medium- and long-distance services that run outside of the London area. The network is centred at Birmingham New Street station. Services can be categorised into two types:

  • Inter-City: long-distance, fast services between the South of England and the North of England or Scotland via Birmingham, these routes are typically operated by Voyagers or HST sets.[22]
  • 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.[22]

CrossCountry's official website does show a distinction between the two types of services (for example, each has a separate timetable booklet), but does not explicitly call them Inter-City and Regional.[23]


As of May 2020, the Monday-Saturday daytime services, with frequencies in trains per hour (tph), include:[24][25]

Route tph Calling at Stock
PlymouthEdinburgh Waverley (and Glasgow Central) 1
(Southampton Central and Reading) – Newcastle 1
BournemouthManchester Piccadilly 1
(Exeter St Davids and Bristol Temple Meads) – Manchester Piccadilly 1
Route tph Calling at Stock
Cardiff CentralNottingham 1 170
Birmingham New StreetNottingham 1/2
Birmingham New StreetStansted Airport 1/2
Birmingham New StreetLeicester 1
Route map (June 2019)

These services combine to provide higher frequencies between Birmingham and the following major destinations:

  • Wolverhampton, Stoke-on-Trent, Macclesfield, Stockport and Manchester: two trains per hour
  • Derby: four trains per hour
    • Sheffield, York, Darlington and Newcastle: two trains per hour (one via Doncaster, one via Leeds)
    • Nottingham: two trains per hour
  • Leicester: two trains per hour
  • Leamington Spa, Oxford and Reading: two trains per hour (including one via Coventry)
  • Cheltenham: three trains per hour
    • Bristol: two trains per hour

The Sunday service pattern is mostly similar to the weekday one, 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.[24][25]

Due to emergency travel restrictions introduced in 2020 by the Government in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, a reduced timetable was introduced in June 2020 and which remains in place until further notice.


The above table shows the basic service pattern; however, a small number of these services are extended beyond their usual destination:[24]

via Crewe either in lieu of, or in addition to Stoke-on-Trent

Special servicesEdit

Class 221 at Bristol Temple Meads in December 2017

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.[26]

Proposed servicesEdit

In December 2016, CrossCountry published a consultation document for changes to the timetable proposed to be implemented in December 2017. These included:[27]

  • 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 had a limited service) would be withdrawn and replaced with extra services run by other operators. These included:

In April 2017, it was announced the proposed changes would not be proceeding.[28]

Stations served only by CrossCountryEdit

CrossCountry does not manage any stations, although there are stations managed by other train operating companies at which it is the only operator: five stations (Burton-on-Trent, Hinckley, Narborough, South Wigston and Willington) are managed by East Midlands Railway, while three stations (Coleshill Parkway, Water Orton and Wilnecote) are managed by West Midlands Trains. At Tamworth station, which has tracks and platforms at two levels, the high-level platforms are served only by CrossCountry, but the entire station is managed by West Midlands Trains, which serves the low-level platforms. Similarly, at Worcestershire Parkway, the low-level platforms are served only by CrossCountry, but the station is managed by Great Western Railway, which serves only the high-level platforms.

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

Other route informationEdit

To improve the travelling experience, CrossCountry has designated four stations as alternative changeover stations: these are Cheltenham Spa, Derby, Leamington Spa and Wolverhampton. Connection times can be shorter at these smaller stations. For example, passengers travelling from Cardiff to Edinburgh could change at Cheltenham – where both their trains use the same platform – instead of Birmingham New Street, a larger, more complex station. These four stations are marked on the CrossCountry route map in yellow.

Rolling stockEdit

Class 220 Voyager 220011 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-car Class 220 Voyagers and 40 five-car and 4 four-car Class 221 Super Voyagers from Virgin CrossCountry as well as 11 two-car and 18 three-car Class 170 Turbostars from Central Trains.[29]

In December 2007 Class 221 Super Voyagers 221101 - 113 and 221142 - 144 were transferred to Virgin Trains West Coast with 221114 - 118 following in December 2008.[30]

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,[31] while the carriages were five ex-Virgin CrossCountry Mark 3 carriages and twenty-one ex-Virgin Trains West Coast loco-hauled Mark 3B carriages. Most had been in store at Long Marston for a few years.[32]

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 engines[33][34] and the Mark 3 carriages overhauled at Doncaster Works to a similar specification as GNER's Mallard refurbishments.[35][36] Once these were completed, the ex-Midland Mainline examples were also overhauled.[37]

To operate services to Paignton and Newquay on summer Saturdays, two High Speed Trains were hired from National Express East Coast in 2008.[38] 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's Toton depot and the interiors renewed by Transys Projects, Clacton-on-Sea, including the fitting of first-class seating to the Class 170/5s and 170/6s.[39][40]

The tilt function on the Class 221 Super Voyagers was removed in 2008, as tilt was not required on the parts of West Coast Main Line that CrossCountry serves.[41][42] CrossCountry said this would improve 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 extra standard-class seats to the Class 221 Super Voyagers.[43] The interiors were given a refresh in 2011/12 with the standard-class seats re-covered 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 to take up an excessive amount of space on a four-car unit. It retained the quiet coaches on its five HST sets.[44]

As part of its franchise extension, in November 2017 two former Virgin Trains Class 221 Super Voyager driving cars of unit 221144, that had been in store at Central Rivers TMD for several years, were reactivated, with two five-car sets releasing a centre carriage to allow an additional four-car set to be formed.[45]

In 2021, six of the existing two-carriage Class 170s were lengthened. This happened as a result of East Midlands Railway only leasing the two-carriage driving vehicles of the West Midlands Railway 170/6 sets, hence six centre cars became available when they were replaced by West Midlands Trains for transfer to CrossCountry.[46][47][48][49]

Current rolling stockEdit

Family Class Image Type Top speed Coaches Number Built
mph km/h
InterCity 125 43   Diesel locomotive 125 200 2 + 7 12 1976–1982
Mark 3   Passenger carriage 40 1975–1988
Bombardier Turbostar 170   DMU 100 160 2 7 1998–2002
3 22
Bombardier Voyager 220 Voyager   DEMU 125 200 4 34 2000–2001
221 Super Voyager   125 200 4 4 2001–2002
5 20

Future rolling stockEdit

Six of the existing two-car Class 170/5s will be lengthened to three cars in 2021. This is happening as a result of the Class 170s from West Midlands Trains transferring to East Midlands Railway: the centre cars of the six 170/6s transferred to CrossCountry.[50][51][52]
A proposal has also been made to use all Class 222s cascaded from East Midlands Railway in 2023 to provide extra capacity.[50]


  1. ^ Served by trains to/from Glasgow
  2. ^ a b Served by trains to/from Edinburgh
  3. ^ Mostly served two-hourly by trains to/from Glasgow but there are four-hour gaps between some services.
  4. ^ Mostly served hourly but there are two-hour and three-hour gaps between some services.
  5. ^ Limated services at peak hours Monday-Saturday. Services that call at Congleton do not call at Macclesfield
  6. ^ a b Each daytime service calls at only one of Chepstow or Lydney.
  7. ^ a b Services call at either Water Orton or South Wigston.
  8. ^ The proposed withdrawal does not include the morning/evening services that run only between Edinburgh and Dundee.


  1. ^ "XC Trains Limited". Companies House. Retrieved 29 December 2017.
  2. ^ "New Cross Country Franchise Consultation Document" (PDF). Department for Transport. June 2006. Archived from the original (PDF) on 27 September 2010.
  3. ^ "New Cross Country Franchise Invitation to Tender" (PDF). Department for Transport. October 2006. Archived from the original (PDF) on 9 April 2010.
  4. ^ New rail franchise to increase capacity between major cities Department for Transport Press Release 10 July 2007
  5. ^ Arriva welcomes new CrossCountry rail franchise award Archived 20 May 2012 at the Wayback Machine Arriva Press Release 10 July 2007
  6. ^ "Bristol and Manchester linked every two hours in CrossCountry's December timetable" (PDF) (Press release). CrossCountry. 12 December 2007.
  7. ^ CrossCountry. "Frequently Asked Questions: How will the timetable change and when?". Archived from the original on 22 August 2008.
  8. ^ "New Southampton train services" (Press release). CrossCountry. 19 November 2010.
  9. ^ "East Coast Welcomes Future New Timetable" (Press release). East Coast. 20 January 2010. Archived from the original on 9 April 2013.
  10. ^ "Railway plan puts new focus on passengers" Archived 13 August 2013 at the Wayback Machine Secretary of State for Transport statement 26 March 2013
  11. ^ "Franchise Letting Process Agreement Between The Secretary Of State For Transport And The Applicants (As Defined)" (PDF). Gov.UK. Archived (PDF) from the original on 25 July 2019. Retrieved 25 June 2021.
  12. ^ "Cross Country rail franchise 2018: prospectus". Department for Transport. 20 September 2018. Retrieved 20 September 2018.
  13. ^ "Auditors raise rail red flag over fallout from Arriva's £3bn sale" The Telegraph 2 July 2019
  14. ^ "Rail franchises axed as help for train firms extended". BBC News. 21 September 2020. Retrieved 21 September 2020.
  15. ^ "CrossCountry handed new three-year deal to run train services". Alloa and Hillfoots Advertiser. Retrieved 16 October 2020.
  16. ^ "Strike action goes ahead on Arriva Cross Country". RMT. Retrieved 21 October 2018.
  17. ^ Penfold, Simon. "Fresh festive rail chaos as CrossCountry strikes start tomorrow". Retrieved 21 October 2018.
  18. ^ Probert, Sarah (25 November 2017). "Cross Country Trains to be hit by RMT strike on Sunday". Retrieved 21 October 2018.
  19. ^ Weatherby, Bronwen (25 November 2017). "How your journey could be affected by Sunday's rail strike". Retrieved 21 October 2018.
  20. ^ "Arriva Cross Country industrial action suspended". RMT. Retrieved 21 October 2018.
  21. ^ "Cross Country managers to receive a 3.3% pay rise". Retrieved 21 October 2018.
  22. ^ a b Types of CrossCountry Train Cross Country
  23. ^ Train Timetables Cross Country
  24. ^ a b c "Scotland and North East to South and South West Timetable, May 2020" (PDF). CrossCountry Trains. Retrieved 14 June 2020.
  25. ^ a b "Stansted, Cambridge and Nottingham to Birmingham and Cardiff timetable, May 2020" (PDF). CrossCountry Trains. Retrieved 14 June 2020.
  26. ^ "London 2012 Olympic Games". CrossCountry. Archived from the original on 3 May 2012. Retrieved 26 June 2012.
  27. ^ "CrossCountry Future Timetable Consultation" (PDF). Retrieved 22 December 2016.
  28. ^ "Plans to cut CrossCountry trains to Aberdeen to be scrapped". Retrieved 21 October 2018.
  29. ^ Class 170 History Railway UK - UK Railway Information
  30. ^ "Bio-fuel under review as Virgin confirms Voyager moves". Rail issue 575 26 September 2007 page 16
  31. ^ "Ex Virgin HST Power Car List". Retrieved 21 October 2018.
  32. ^ "Brush wins XC Class 43 HST overhaul deal". Rail issue 586 27 February 2008 page 62
  33. ^ "CrossCountry signs deal to overhaul High Speed Trains" (Press release). Arriva. 24 January 2008. Archived 20 May 2012 at the Wayback Machine
  34. ^ "MTU fitted Class 43 HST powercars"[Usurped!]. TheRailwayCentre.Com
  35. ^ "Deal signed to refurbish high speed train carriages" (Press release). CrossCountry. 22 April 2008.
  36. ^ Project Profile HST trailer cars Archived 31 August 2012 at the Wayback Machine Wabtec Rail
  37. ^ "CrossCountry Unveils First Refurbished HST" (Press release). CrossCountry. 1 October 2008.
  38. ^ "More CrossCountry seats for Holidaymakers" (Press release). CrossCountry. 27 March 2008.
  39. ^ "Refurbishment of Class 170 Turbostar trains begins" (Press release). CrossCountry. 30 January 2008.
  40. ^ "CrossCountry's first refurbished Turbostar enters service" (Press release). CrossCountry. 19 May 2008. Archived 26 December 2012 at the Wayback Machine
  41. ^ Miles, Tony (August 2008). "CrossCountry stops tilting". Modern Railways. London. p. 71.
  42. ^ "CrossCountry removes tilt from its 221 Voyagers" Rail issue 595 2 July 2008 page 8
  43. ^ "Seats not shops for Voyagers" Rail issue 589 9 April 2008 page 23
  44. ^ Rail issue 755 20 August 2014 pp. 60-61
  45. ^ "CrossCountry's extra Voyager in service" Modern Railways issue 831 December 2017 page 85
  46. ^ "Government and CrossCountry work on train capacity plan". Retrieved 25 June 2021.
  47. ^ "East Midlands Railway plans Spring 2020 start for Class 170s". Rail. 28 November 2019. Retrieved 28 November 2019.
  48. ^ "Progress on new train fleets continues". Retrieved 25 June 2021.
  49. ^ First WMT 170 joins EMR fleet Rail issue 925 24 February 2021 page 28
  50. ^ a b "Government and CrossCountry work on train capacity plan". Retrieved 25 June 2021.
  51. ^ "East Midlands Railway plans Spring 2020 start for Class 170s". RAIL. 28 November 2019. Retrieved 28 November 2019.
  52. ^ "Progress on new train fleets continues". Retrieved 25 June 2021.

External linksEdit

  Media related to CrossCountry at Wikimedia Commons

Preceded by
Central Trains
Central Trains franchise
Operator of New CrossCountry franchise
Preceded by
Virgin CrossCountry
InterCity CrossCountry franchise