Cross Country Route (MR)
The term cross country route can clearly be a generic one; it is usually used on the English network to refer to one of the routes through Birmingham, currently franchised to Virgin Trains. Principal amongst these is the South-West/North-East route through Birmingham, Derby and Sheffield. This is distinguished here by (MR) for Midland Railway. Other routes will be added as links.
The Cross Country Route (MR) is the name given to a major British rail route, running from South West England via Bristol, Birmingham, Derby and Sheffield to North East England and Scotland. It brings together some of the longest inter-city rail journeys in the UK (eg Plymouth to Aberdeen). It was also a major freight route, although now largely usurped by the M5, M6 and M1 motorways
However, it long had a 'cinderella' status because it ran through 5 different regions of the old British Rail and had timetabling priority in none of them. This was offset somewhat on privatisation when the route was awarded as a single franchise to Virgin Trains (The route corresponds broadly to Virgin VT3)
In the 1960s the route was understood to be 'pencilled in for electrification' – this probably would have been particularly beneficial for climbing the Lickey Incline into Birmingham from Cheltenham. However, this improvement did not take place, and modern multiple-units such as the new Turbostars and Virgin Voyagers have probably made this unnecessary.
During the early 1990s, the network was served by High Speed Trains and by Class 47, which hauled and various classes of coaching stock. Once diesel-hauled trains arrived into Birmingham New Street, those trains travelling North West switched traction from a Class 47 diesel to a Class 86 electric.
The XC Network is now served with 100% Class 220/221 Voyager Trains. These trains are capable of achieving 125 mph, compared to the previous Class 47s and Mk 2 coaching stock, which had a top speed of 95 mph. Since the Voyager trains arrived the XC network stopped serving Inverness, Blackpool, Portsmouth, London Paddington and Liverpool. The Class 221 can tilt on some areas of the West Coast Mainline leading to a faster more comfortable journey.