Chiltern Railways celebrates 25th anniversary with launch of greener and quieter HybridFLEX train


HybridFLEX train


  • Chiltern Railways and partners invest in green HybridFLEX train, delivering emission-free battery operation, reducing CO2 (¯25%), nitrous oxide (¯70%) and particulates (¯90%)
  • Rail Minister Chris Heaton-Harris MP is supporting the launch event at Marylebone station, before key stakeholders travel on board HybridFLEX, Britain’s first hybrid battery-diesel train
  • Chiltern – the operator of train services between Birmingham, Oxford and London – today celebrates 25 years of continuous service for customers

Chiltern Railways will mark 25 years of achievement as a train operator with a celebration event at London Marylebone Station and the launch of HybridFLEX – Britain’s first battery-diesel train. Chiltern is currently an all-diesel operator with an average fleet age of 25 years. A key priority for the operator is to help deliver decarbonisaiton for the UK by investing in innovation.

Long-serving Chiltern colleagues will be joined at Marylebone Station by regional stakeholders and rail industry executives, prior to the train travelling to Bicester Village on its maiden journey.

The HybridFLEX train will arrive into London Marylebone station at 1000 on 21 July. Following a programme of speeches, the guests will take a closer look at the HybridFLEX train before it departs from the station at 1030. The train will then arrive at Bicester Village at 1120 where there will be further activities to commemorate Chiltern’s silver anniversary.

HybridFLEX train

HybridFLEX is the product of collaboration between rolling stock owner and asset manager Porterbrook and engineering giant Rolls-Royce. As well as offering zero emissions and near silent operation at stations, the Rolls-Royce Hybrid PowerPack will also reduce fuel consumption and so CO2 emissions by up to 25%, Nitrous Oxide (NOx) emissions by over 70% and particulate emissions by over 90%, compared to the engines it replaces.

Chiltern is delighted to be trialling this new technology to demonstrate that it can contribute to better air quality, decarbonisation and the aim of removing traditional diesel trains from its network. The HybridFLEX aims to enter full passenger service from September this year.

Rail Minister Chris Heaton Harris said: “HybridFLEX trains will make rail travel even greener and the air in our stations cleaner.

“Chiltern Railways have connected people for a quarter of a century and now are helping to prepare for the future as we build back greener.  This is a great example of how innovation and enterprise can help us reach our ambitious target of net zero emissions by 2050.”

Richard Allan, Managing Director at Chiltern Railways said: “Chiltern has a fantastic track record of innovating and investing in new routes, stations, depots and trains to attract and retain customers. We are proud and privileged to mark our 25th anniversary by introducing colleagues and stakeholders to the HybridFLEX train. We need to modernise Chiltern again and this exciting use of new technology in an older train is a potentially very significant opportunity to help us decarbonise and improve our customer experience."

Mary Grant, CEO of Porterbrook said: “We are delighted to be able to support Chiltern Railways’ ambitious plans for the future. Our HybridFLEX, built in partnership with Rolls-Royce, will offer improved air quality and reduced noise at stations and other sensitive locations on the Chiltern network.

“HybridFLEX is part of Porterbrook’s growing portfolio of alternative traction systems designed to help Britain’s railway accelerate the race to Net Zero.”

Warren East, Chief Executive Officer at Rolls-Royce said: “This collaboration demonstrates the pivotal role technology is already playing in the transition towards a net zero future. With 1.7bn passenger rail journeys taking place every year in the UK, the 25% reduction in CO2 emissions offered by HybridFLEX represents a meaningful step forward in the country’s journey towards its 2050 net zero target. We’re delighted to be part of this ground-breaking team with our hybrid solution alongside Chiltern Railways and Porterbrook.”

The HybridFLEX train arrived on time, silently into Bicester Village station where guests were met with a warm welcome by colleagues from the Village.

A Bicester Village spokesperson said: “We congratulate Chiltern Railways on their 25th Anniversary.  We are  proud to join them in celebrating our long running successful partnership  and welcome the exciting opportunities which they seek to introduce, in particular towards a sustainable transport future for Bicester”.

Delivering innovation and growth for Chiltern customers

  • Chiltern Railways is the only surviving, continuous train operator brand since privatisation. Customer feedback around the Chiltern Railways brand is very strong.
  • Over two decades, Chiltern has seen customer numbers grow from 8 million (1999) to 29 million (2019).
  • Chiltern has invested over £600 million into the network over the past 25 years, including £250 million to speed up journeys between London and Birmingham.
  • Chiltern made a £320 million investment in partnership with Network Rail to open a new rail link between Oxford and London, the first new route connecting a city with the capital for 100 years - delivering faster and more frequent journeys.
  • Chiltern has built new stations at Oxford Parkway, Warwick Parkway, Aylesbury Vale Parkway and Bicester Village; restored a once-derelict Birmingham Moor Street station; and reconstructed Haddenham & Thame Parkway station.
  • Chiltern oversaw the delivery of new platforms at Moor Street, Marylebone, Princes Risborough, Islip and Oxford.
  • The number of weekday services run by Chiltern increased from 240 to over 430 before the Covid-19 pandemic
  • New Chiltern depots have been built at Wembley and Banbury to ensure reliable rail services.
  • Chiltern invested in a fleet of new Class 168 trains in 1996, the first order for new trains placed by any privatised train company.
  • Chiltern was the first operator to offer onboard Wi-Fi and first to have a presence on Twitter.