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Frequently Asked Questions

All your questions about CrossCountry trains answered.

We’re sure you’ll have a few questions regarding the new CrossCountry Service, so here are some of the most frequently asked. If you still can't find what you’re looking for, please get in touch and we’ll be happy to help.

Trains

What trains will you be operating on your network?

We will be operating 57 Voyager trains, 29 Class 170 multiple units, and five High Speed Trains (HSTs) each with eight coaches. All will be leased.

All trains are diesel powered and offer First and Standard Class, with air-conditioning. Our High Speed Trains and Voyagers have a top speed of 125 mph and our Turbostars have a top speed of 100 mph.

Our HSTs have an average of 550 seats over eight carriages and will operate on the main North East-South West route between Edinburgh and Plymouth.

Voyagers offer 202 seats in four coach trains, 264 seats in five coach trains and will operate services to Penzance, Plymouth, Bristol, Bournemouth, Guildford, Reading, Manchester Piccadilly, Newcastle, Edinburgh and Aberdeen.

Turbostars have 131 seats in two coach trains and up to 199 seats in three coach trains. They will operate on the Cardiff to Nottingham, Birmingham to Nottingham, Birmingham to Stansted Airport and Birmingham to Leicester services.

Refresh plans for the HSTs include provision of accessible toilets, Wi-Fi access (free in First Class) and electronic seat reservations, while Voyagers will have more seating, increased luggage space, improved mobile phone reception and Wi-Fi access (free in First Class).

We will also be improving the Turbostars with more seating, increased luggage space and reworked First Class accommodation.

Which trains will operate on each route?

Trains that operate on existing routes will continue to do so throughout the franchise, however all will be refurbished or refreshed. In addition to existing rolling stock, we will introduce five High Speed Trains to supplement Voyagers on the busiest services on the Plymouth to Edinburgh route. This will allow the release of Voyagers to strengthen other services across the network.

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Tickets, Fares and Reservations

What improvements will you make to seat reservations?

Radical improvements will be made to the reservation system over time, making it easier to use. When fully operational by the end of 2009 customers will be able to make reservations after the National Reservation System opens (currently three months before travel) and after it closes. We will change the closing time from 18.00 the previous day to 10 minutes before departure for journeys on CrossCountry.

How will you make it easier to buy train tickets?

We will introduce a new web-based ticketing system, which will offer the following benefits over time:

  • customers able to print their tickets at home
  • customers able to receive an electronic ticket on their mobile phone or via a Smartcard
  • additional ticket vending machines in busy stations able to issue tickets pre-booked on the website
  • providing personalised journey information on stations and connections
  • guiding you towards the best interchange options
  • a flexible reservations systems so customers can make late changes to journey plans, up to ten minutes before departure
  • providing you with text updates on your itinerary
  • technology able to give up to the minute information on train times and connections
  • technology to update the train seating plan to release vacant reserved seats and reallocate them to other customers, in real time, making best use of capacity when trains are busy
Will you be offering cheap, book ahead tickets?

CrossCountry will offer a full and extensive range of cheaper fares, particularly for less busy trains, and our plans will make it easier to obtain cheap fares closer to the point of travel. Cheap discounted fares are currently provided for many UK rail journeys involving multiple operators, and CrossCountry will seek to reach agreement on these with other TOCs towards shared aims of filling up empty seats and maximising passenger revenue.

Will current arrangements relating to the use of Railcards and Saver tickets continue?

Saver and Railcard related Saver restrictions will be unchanged from the start of the franchise but will be kept under review.

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Cycles

What provision will you make for bicycles?

We will ensure provision is made for bicycles on our CrossCountry services. Whilst space is limited on certain trains, the introduction of High Speed Trains into the fleet will provide more space on certain services.

We will work with other train operators and local partners to improve cycle access and parking at the stations we serve.

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Capacity and Crowding

What will you do to improve capacity and reducing crowding?

We will provide more seats on all our existing trains by changing the interior layout. This will include the removal of the shop and one toilet from our Voyager trains. This change will increase seating and luggage capacity, while there will still be two to three toilets (depending on the size of train) accessible to all ticket holders, including the disabled. This will leave a similar number of toilets as provided by other train operators and we believe will improve the passenger experience; more seating will also mean fewer standing passengers to negotiate while attempting to gain access to the toilets.

We will also introduce five High Speed Trains onto the busy Plymouth-Edinburgh route. This in turn will release Voyager trains to strengthen other services on other routes. These proposals will contribute to a 35 per cent increase in capacity on principal routes in evening peaks by June 2009.

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Assisted Travel

What journey assistance will you provide for passengers with additional needs?

Safety, customer service and punctuality are our top priorities. All staff on board CrossCountry services will be fully trained to help you if you need extra assistance. Our aim is to make your journey as straightforward as possible.

You will still be able to book your tickets and travel assistance by telephone. We will also bring in innovations making use of the latest mobile phone and internet technology.

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Timetables

How will the timetable change and when?

December 2007 timetable change

The Department for Transport's (DfT) reshaping of franchises continues with Manchester-Scotland services transferring to First TransPennine Express and timetable changes at Birmingham that mean that:

  • All Virgin West Coast services between Scotland and Birmingham via Preston and the WCML will start and end at Birmingham with separate CrossCountry trains running south of Birmingham.
  • Direct services from south of Birmingham to Scotland via York and Newcastle will continue to run as now.

The rest of our CrossCountry services will continue, with a timetable based around existing service patterns inherited from Virgin and Central Trains.For details on train times please check www.nationalrail.co.uk

December 2008 and beyond

A significant timetable restructuring occurs in December 2008, establishing a new service pattern for the remainder of the CrossCountry franchise. Further details, including proposed calling patterns, can be seen in our Timetable Changes page.

This restructuring is part of major changes to the national UK rail timetable, which will incorporate a number of modifications such as the benefits of the investment in the West Coast Main Line.

For all operators' train and timetable information, go to www.nationalrail.co.uk

What is happening to services to and from Brighton?

The changes in December 2008 will see the end of direct CrossCountry services to Brighton and intermediate stations (Kensington Olympia, East Croydon, Redhill, Gatwick Airport and Haywards Heath). Operating to these locations was not a requirement for this franchise after that date and we have not been able to make a commercial case for continuing these services beyond then.

We recognise that if you are travelling between these locations and the Midlands and the North you value the chance to avoid London. CrossCountry’s plans to make changing trains easier will help those travelling to Gatwick Airport change at Reading for First Great Western services.

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Getting to your train

How will you improve access to your network?

CrossCountry does not manage any stations, but works in partnership with other train operating companies to increase station car parking where there is a clear need. We will also work with local authorities and other transport providers to improve integration with other forms of transport.

All PTE multi-modal tickets accepted on Virgin Cross Country services continue to be accepted.

How will you make it easier to change trains?

We are introducing a range of measures over the course of the CrossCountry franchise to make changing trains easier for you, including effective use of modern technology. Through this website, and other means, we will offer personalised advice based on particular needs and particular journeys.

We will carry out an information campaign to let you know of other stations where you may be able to change more easily than at Birmingham New Street (e.g. Wolverhampton and Stafford) for onward journeys. We will also deploy extra staff to help you during the major timetable change in December 2008.

What role does CrossCountry have in regard to stations?
CrossCountry calls at more than 100 stations. We will be working in partnership with Network Rail and other train operating companies to ensure you receive consistent standards of service when travelling around our network.

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Environment

What will you do to help the environment?

Our commitment to deliver 35 per cent extra capacity on key routes by June 2009 will bring a significant benefit as new customers transfer from less environmentally forms of transport.

We have developed our own environmental strategy for CrossCountry and plan to introduce technological change to our trains. We will train staff in various aspects of environmental awareness and our progress on environmental work will be detailed in our Safety and Environment Plan which will be published annually.

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General

When does your franchise start and finish?

The franchise started at 02.00 hrs on Sunday 11 November 2007 and will run until 31 March 2016.

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Travel Updates

Timetabled departure Update detail including start and destination stations
16:03 Birmingham New Street to Glasgow Central due 22:42

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