Cross Country Route

Cross Country Route

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Cross Country Route

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Description:
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, Sheffield and Leeds to North-East England. It facilitates some of the longest inter-city rail journeys in the UK such as Penzance to Aberdeen. It was also a major freight route, although in this role it has now largely been usurped by the M5, M6 and M1 motorways.

History

The Birmingham to Bristol section was originally built as the Birmingham and Gloucester Railway and the Bristol and Gloucester Railway, which then briefly amalgamated as the Birmingham and Bristol Railway before joining the Midland Railway. From Birmingham northwards, the line originated as the Birmingham and Derby Junction Railway to Derby, then the North Midland Railway to Leeds, then the York and North Midland Railway.

It ran through several regions of British Rail and had timetabling priority in none of them, and as a result the services were poorly promoted and thus not always well-patronised. 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, as many of the early diesels were underpowered. However, this improvement did not take place, and modern,...
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