Last updated

Dawlish Warren MMB 07 South Devon Main Line 220032.jpg
Franchise(s)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 company Arriva UK Trains
Reporting mark XC
Predecessor Virgin CrossCountry
Central Trains
Route map
CrossCountry network.svg

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.


CrossCountry is one of only two franchised train operating companies that does not manage any stations, the other being Caledonian Sleeper. All routes call or terminate at Birmingham New Street.



In June 2006 the Department for Transport 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 Department for Transport 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 services

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. [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.

Additional services

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 franchise

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 action

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, and all services either terminate at or pass through Birmingham New Street station. [22] Services can be categorised into two types:

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. [24]


As of May 2020, the Monday-Saturday daytime services, with frequencies in trains per hour (tph), include: [25] [26]

RoutetphCalling atStock
PlymouthEdinburgh Waverley (and Glasgow Central)1 Totnes, Newton Abbot, Exeter St Davids, Tiverton Parkway, Taunton, Bristol Temple Meads, Bristol Parkway, Cheltenham Spa, Birmingham New Street, Tamworth (1tp2h), [lower-alpha 1] Burton-on-Trent (1tp2h), [lower-alpha 2] Derby, Chesterfield, Sheffield, Wakefield Westgate, Leeds, York, Darlington, Durham, Newcastle, Alnmouth (irregular), [lower-alpha 3] Berwick-upon-Tweed (irregular), [lower-alpha 4] Dunbar (1tp2h); [lower-alpha 2]
1tp2h extended to/from Glasgow Central, calling at Haymarket and Motherwell.
43, 220, 221
(Southampton Central and) ReadingNewcastle 1 Oxford, Banbury, Leamington Spa, Birmingham New Street, Derby, Sheffield, Doncaster, York, Darlington, Durham;
1tp2h extended from/to Southampton Central, calling at Southampton Airport Parkway, Winchester, Basingstoke, Reading, then as above.
BournemouthManchester 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, Congleton (limited), [lower-alpha 5] Macclesfield, Stockport
(Exeter St Davids and) Bristol Temple MeadsManchester Piccadilly 1 Bristol Parkway, Cheltenham Spa, Birmingham New Street, Wolverhampton, Stafford, Stoke-on-Trent, Macclesfield, Stockport;
1tp2h extended from/to Exeter St Davids, calling at Tiverton Parkway, Taunton, Bristol Temple Meads, then as above. Two return services Mon-Sat extend from Exeter to/from Paignton calling at Dawlish, Teignmouth, Newton Abbot, Torquay and Paignton.
RoutetphCalling atStock
Cardiff CentralNottingham 1 Newport, Chepstow (2tp3h), [lower-alpha 6] Lydney (1tp3h), [lower-alpha 6] Gloucester, Cheltenham Spa, Ashchurch (limited), Worcestershire Parkway, University, Birmingham New Street, Wilnecote (Nottingham-bound only), Tamworth, Burton-on-Trent, Willington (limited), Derby, Spondon (limited), Long Eaton, Beeston 170
Birmingham New StreetNottingham 1 Wilnecote (Birmingham-bound only), Tamworth, Burton-on-Trent, Derby
Birmingham New StreetStansted Airport 1 Coleshill Parkway, Nuneaton, Leicester, Melton Mowbray, Oakham, Stamford, Peterborough, March, Ely, Cambridge, Audley End
Birmingham New StreetLeicester 1 Water Orton (1tp2h), [lower-alpha 7] Coleshill Parkway, Nuneaton, Hinckley, Narborough, South Wigston (1tp2h) [lower-alpha 7]
Route map (June 2019) CrossCountry route map.png
Route map (June 2019)

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

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. [25] [26]

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.


Class 220 Voyager 220011 at Newton Abbot 220011 Newton Abbot.JPG
Class 220 Voyager 220011 at Newton Abbot

The above table shows the basic service pattern; however, a small number of these services are extended beyond their usual destination: [25]

as well as Newquay on summer weekends;

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

Special services

Class 221 at Bristol Temple Meads in December 2017 Voyager Train Bristol, 2017.jpg
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. [27]

Proposed services

In December 2016, CrossCountry published a consultation document for changes to the timetable proposed to be implemented in December 2017. These included: [28]

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. [29]

Stations served only by CrossCountry

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 information

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 stock

Class 170 Turbostar 170109 at Gloucester Gloucester railway station MMB 16 170109.jpg
Class 170 Turbostar 170109 at Gloucester
Class 220 Voyager 220011 at St Erth, working a service from Penzance to Manchester Piccadilly XC 220011 @ SER 2.jpg
Class 220 Voyager 220011 at St Erth, working a service from Penzance to Manchester Piccadilly
HST power car 43301 at Newcastle XChstncl.JPG
HST power car 43301 at Newcastle

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. [30]

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. [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 Trains 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 engines [34] [35] and the Mark 3 carriages overhauled at Doncaster Works 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'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. [40] [41]

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. [42] [43] 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. [44] 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. [45]

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. [46]

In 2021, six of the existing two-carriage Class 170s were lengthened. This happened as a result of East Midlands Railway only wanting two-carriage sets, hence six centre cars became available when they were replaced by West Midlands Trains for transfer to CrossCountry. [47] [48] [49] [50]

Current rolling stock

Trainset[ clarification needed discuss ]ClassImageTypeTop speedCoachesNumberBuilt
InterCity 125 43 CrossCountry-HST-at-BHM.jpg Diesel locomotive 1252002 + 7121976–82
Mark 3 CrossCountry Mark 3 TS 42376+42052 at Tiverton Parkway.jpg Passenger carriage 401975–88
Class 43 CrossCountry HST Diagram.PNG
Bombardier Turbostar 170 Class170XC.jpg DMU 100160271998–2002
CrossCountry Class 170-1-3-5.png
CrossCountry Class 170-1-6.png
Bombardier Voyager 220 Voyager CrossCountry Class 220, 220004, platform 3, Stockport railway station (geograph 4525172).jpg DEMU 1252004342000–01
Class 220 CrossCountry Diagram.png
221 Super Voyager CrossCountry Class 221, 221124, platform 5, Manchester Piccadilly railway station (geograph 4512037).jpg 125200442001–02
Class 221 CrossCountry Diagram.png


  1. Served by trains to/from Glasgow
  2. 1 2 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. Limited services at peak hours Monday-Saturday
  6. 1 2 Each daytime service calls at only one of Chepstow or Lydney.
  7. 1 2 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.

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  4. New rail franchise to increase capacity between major cities Department for Transport Press Release 10 July 2007
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  23. 1 2 Types of CrossCountry Train Cross Country
  24. Train Timetables Cross Country
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Commons-logo.svg Media related to CrossCountry at Wikimedia Commons

Preceded by
Central Trains
Central Trains franchise
Operator of New CrossCountry franchise
2007 - 2023
Preceded by
Virgin CrossCountry
InterCity CrossCountry franchise