Chiltern Railways 2030 Vision

Last year we set out our Right Route 2030 vision, setting out how we intend to modernise and decarbonise our operations to deliver easier, greener, and better train travel for our communities.

We recognise the feedback we have had from customers across the route: current seating capacity is being outgrown by rising levels of demand, and there is a clear need to modernise and improve this railway for future generations and make customer journeys the best they can be.

We will always be honest and transparent with our customers, so we wanted to provide you with an update on progress, set out some of the challenges we’re facing, the solutions we’ve identified to these, and the action we are taking to implement changes.

Our progress so far

In response to customer concerns about overcrowding during peak hours, we are taking proactive steps to introduce new services. In 2023 we introduced a new 15 minute commuter timetable in the West Midlands, increasing capacity from Leamington, Solihull and Dorridge into Birmingham. From June 2024, additional services will be available in Buckinghamshire from Tuesday to Thursday. This will increase seating capacity at major stations including Beaconsfield, High Wycombe, Princes Risborough, and Haddenham & Thame Parkway, with a total of 1,290 more seats each week.

We also have secured a £10.7 million investment from our train owners to refurbish our 23-year-old diesel Class 168 trains. Starting in June 2024, over the coming year the trains will be upgraded to include new carpets, reupholstered seats, 5G Wi-Fi, and charging points, along with a fresh repaint.

Finally, to complement this work we have begun a significant programme of customer-focused improvements, including deep cleaning and painting all our stations throughout 2024.

Upgrading our trains

As part of the 2030 vision, we committed to investing in our trains to improve punctuality, frequency, seating capacity and sustainability.

Our current trains have an average age of 30 years, older than any other UK train operator. When they require repairs, they have to be taken away for servicing, limiting our ability to give customers the journeys they deserve.

Improving reliability and increasing the number of seats available on our trains is a crucial part of our 2030 Vision. We are doing everything possible to get more trains on the line and replace our oldest trains with newer, more reliable models.

To do this we are working urgently to acquire trains that are currently going unused elsewhere on the rail network. We can’t do this on our own though. Trains in the UK are not owned by operators, but leased from specialist providers, and require government approval before they can be used by operators like Chiltern.

We have been working with the Department for Transport on modernising our fleet since 2021, and in recent months we have specifically sought to secure their authorisation so that those trains can be operated by Chiltern instead of sitting unused, and made good progress.

The recognition by the Government of the need to get these trains running by 2025 is positive, and we will continue to do everything we can to get their formal approval, which will allow us to move quickly to introduce these new trains and alleviate overcrowding.

As these discussions progress we will keep you updated on developments and our work to improve your journeys with Chiltern.

Right Route vision 2030 report

Chiltern Railways 2030 Vision

Greg Smith and Iain Steward at the vision 2030 conferenceaudience at the vision 2030 conferenceRichard Allan presenting at the Vision 2030 conferenceMembers of the Chiltern railways team holding a Vision 2030 placard next to the river thames