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History of Chiltern Railways

Since winning our franchise in 1996, Chiltern Railways has run scheduled passenger services along the M40 corridor between London Marylebone and Birmingham Snow Hill and London Marylebone to Aylesbury via Amersham along the London Underground Metropolitan line. In 2002 we extended our operations as far as Kidderminster and in 2004 we took over all rail services between London and Stratford-upon-Avon.

As one of the franchises forming the UK's National Rail network, we're dedicated to providing passengers with a reliable, welcoming and value for money service which offers them a real choice and a viable alternative to other modes of transport.

Marylebone Station in 1902The origins of the Chiltern line itself stretch back more than 100 years to 15 March 1899 when Marylebone Station first opened to passenger trains. Sir Edward Watkin had been the driving force behind the construction of the line and it was under the auspices of The Great Central Railway that it first provided a rail link between Marylebone, Manchester, Nottingham and Sheffield with numerous connecting lines.

Steam Train at RickmansworthIn 1905 the line via South Ruislip and Beaconsfield was opened and suburban services to High Wycombe began. Then, in 1923, the Great Central Railway became part of the London & North Eastern Railway heralding a new era for the railway supported by modern equipment. This period saw the introduction of such celebrated names as 'The Master Cutler' and 'The South Yorkshireman' express trains.

When the Great Central main line closed on 4 September 1966, Marylebone became a suburban terminus for trains to Aylesbury (via Amersham) and Banbury (via High Wycombe).

Marylebone Station ConcourseLooking today at the splendid architecture, specialist retail outlets and modern facilities which together make up the very unique character of Marylebone station, it's hard to believe that this historic place once faced the threat of closure - a victim of early 20th century war-time under-investment. However, due in no small part to the advent of rail privatisation, which has encouraged partnership between Network Rail and Chiltern Railways, an investment of around £1.7 million has enabled the station facilities to be enhanced.

London Marylebone StationThe result is a pleasant environment - one of the most civilised terminals in London - bringing benefit to almost 30,000 people who use it each day.

Birmingham Moor Street StationWe've since repeated this feat in Birmingham, with a magnificent restoration of Moor Street station back to its Edwardian, Great Western Railway glory.