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Wessex Trains

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Wessex Trains was the primary passenger rail operator in the South West of England. The company operated trains in the region bounded by Penzance
Penzance
Penzance is a town, civil parish, and port in Cornwall, England, in the United Kingdom. It is the most westerly major town in Cornwall and is approximately 75 miles west of Plymouth and 300 miles west-southwest of London...

, Cardiff
Cardiff
Cardiff is the capital, largest city and most populous county of Wales and the 10th largest city in the United Kingdom. The city is Wales' chief commercial centre, the base for most national cultural and sporting institutions, the Welsh national media, and the seat of the National Assembly for...

, Gloucester
Gloucester
Gloucester is a city, district and county town of Gloucestershire in the South West region of England. Gloucester lies close to the Welsh border, and on the River Severn, approximately north-east of Bristol, and south-southwest of Birmingham....

, Worcester and Brighton
Brighton
Brighton is the major part of the city of Brighton and Hove in East Sussex, England on the south coast of Great Britain...

. In addition to running trains, Wessex Trains was responsible for the operation of 125 passenger stations.

History


Wessex Trains came into being on 14 October 2001 when the former Wales and West
Wales and West
Wales & West was a British Train Operating Company that ran services from 1997 to 2001, and was one of the original 25 Train Operating Companies that were set up after the UK Rail Industry was privatised...

 and Valley Lines
Valley Lines
Valleys & Cardiff Local Routes is the busy network of passenger suburban railway services radiating from Cardiff, Wales. It includes lines within the city itself, the Vale of Glamorgan and the South Wales Valleys....

 franchises were reorganised. Wales and West Passenger Trains Ltd. took on the trading name of Wessex Trains and the operation of services in southwest England; Cardiff Railway Company Ltd. changed its trading name from Valley Lines
Valley Lines
Valleys & Cardiff Local Routes is the busy network of passenger suburban railway services radiating from Cardiff, Wales. It includes lines within the city itself, the Vale of Glamorgan and the South Wales Valleys....

 to Wales and Borders Trains
Wales and Borders
Wales and Borders is the name of a franchise of train services covering Wales, the Welsh Marches and bordering counties of England.-History:The franchise was initially formed from part of the former Wales and West franchise and the Cardiff Railway Company , together with the lines from Shrewsbury...

 and took on the running of most trains in Wales and the adjoining parts of England. Both franchises were owned by the National Express Group
National Express Group
National Express Group plc is a British transport group headquartered in Birmingham that operates bus, coach, rail and tram services in the UK, the US and Canada, Spain, Portugal and Morocco and long-distance coach routes across Europe...

 until Arriva
Arriva
Arriva plc is a multinational public transport company owned by Deutsche Bahn and headquartered in Sunderland, United Kingdom. It has bus, coach, train, tram and waterbus operations in 12 countries across Europe, employs more than 47,500 people and services over 1.5 billion passenger journeys each...

 took over a slightly modified Wales and Borders franchise in 2003.

Originally it was planned for Wessex to take over the diesel services of South West Trains
South West Trains
South West Trains is a British train operating company providing, under franchise, passenger rail services, mostly out of Waterloo station, to the southwest of London in the suburbs and in the counties of Surrey, Hampshire, Dorset, Devon, Somerset, Berkshire, and Wiltshire and on the Isle of Wight...

 – some route maps even showed the West of England Main Line
West of England Main Line
The West of England Main Line is a British railway line that runs from , Hampshire to Exeter St Davids in Devon, England. Passenger services run between London Waterloo station and Exeter...

 as about to transfer. This would have left all services from the South West to London under the control of one operator. The proposed transfer never took place, however. A change of policy by the government led to the decision instead to merge Wessex and First Great Western
First Great Western
First Great Western is the operating name of First Greater Western Ltd, a British train operating company owned by FirstGroup that serves Greater London, the South East, South West and West Midlands regions of England, and South Wales....

 into the new Greater Western franchise.

Wessex Trains merged with First Great Western and First Great Western Link
First Great Western Link
First Great Western Link was a train operating company owned by First Group that provided train services, on a franchise basis, from Paddington Station to destinations such as Greenford, Slough, Reading, Didcot, Oxford, Goring and Streatley, Henley-on-Thames, Newbury, Bedwyn, Hereford, Worcester...

 on 1 April 2006. The new franchise is operated by First Group and all its services operate under the name First Great Western
First Great Western
First Great Western is the operating name of First Greater Western Ltd, a British train operating company owned by FirstGroup that serves Greater London, the South East, South West and West Midlands regions of England, and South Wales....

.

Routes


Wessex Trains ran the majority of local trains in the South West. They did not run the high-speed long distance trains, which were and are run by First Great Western
First Great Western
First Great Western is the operating name of First Greater Western Ltd, a British train operating company owned by FirstGroup that serves Greater London, the South East, South West and West Midlands regions of England, and South Wales....

 between London
London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

 Paddington Station
Paddington station
Paddington railway station, also known as London Paddington, is a central London railway terminus and London Underground complex.The site is a historic one, having served as the London terminus of the Great Western Railway and its successors since 1838. Much of the current mainline station dates...

 and Penzance via Bristol
Bristol
Bristol is a city, unitary authority area and ceremonial county in South West England, with an estimated population of 433,100 for the unitary authority in 2009, and a surrounding Larger Urban Zone with an estimated 1,070,000 residents in 2007...

, Exeter
Exeter
Exeter is a historic city in Devon, England. It lies within the ceremonial county of Devon, of which it is the county town as well as the home of Devon County Council. Currently the administrative area has the status of a non-metropolitan district, and is therefore under the administration of the...

 and Plymouth
Plymouth
Plymouth is a city and unitary authority area on the coast of Devon, England, about south-west of London. It is built between the mouths of the rivers Plym to the east and Tamar to the west, where they join Plymouth Sound...

, Virgin Trains
Virgin Trains
Virgin Trains is a train operating company in the United Kingdom. It operates long-distance passenger services on the West Coast Main Line between London, the West Midlands, North West England, North Wales and Scotland...

 between Birmingham
Birmingham
Birmingham is a city and metropolitan borough in the West Midlands of England. It is the most populous British city outside the capital London, with a population of 1,036,900 , and lies at the heart of the West Midlands conurbation, the second most populous urban area in the United Kingdom with a...

 and Penzance and South West Trains
South West Trains
South West Trains is a British train operating company providing, under franchise, passenger rail services, mostly out of Waterloo station, to the southwest of London in the suburbs and in the counties of Surrey, Hampshire, Dorset, Devon, Somerset, Berkshire, and Wiltshire and on the Isle of Wight...

 between London Waterloo Station
Waterloo station
Waterloo station, also known as London Waterloo, is a central London railway terminus and London Underground complex. The station is owned and operated by Network Rail and is close to the South Bank of the River Thames, and in Travelcard Zone 1....

 and Paignton
Paignton
Paignton is a coastal town in Devon in England. Together with Torquay and Brixham it forms the unitary authority of Torbay which was created in 1998. The Torbay area is a holiday destination known as the English Riviera. Paignton's population in the United Kingdom Census of 2001 was 48,251. It has...

 via Exeter and London to Weymouth via Southampton
Southampton
Southampton is the largest city in the county of Hampshire on the south coast of England, and is situated south-west of London and north-west of Portsmouth. Southampton is a major port and the closest city to the New Forest...

 and Bournemouth
Bournemouth
Bournemouth is a large coastal resort town in the ceremonial county of Dorset, England. According to the 2001 Census the town has a population of 163,444, making it the largest settlement in Dorset. It is also the largest settlement between Southampton and Plymouth...

.

Wessex Trains ran on north-south routes from Cardiff
Cardiff
Cardiff is the capital, largest city and most populous county of Wales and the 10th largest city in the United Kingdom. The city is Wales' chief commercial centre, the base for most national cultural and sporting institutions, the Welsh national media, and the seat of the National Assembly for...

 and Gloucester
Gloucester
Gloucester is a city, district and county town of Gloucestershire in the South West region of England. Gloucester lies close to the Welsh border, and on the River Severn, approximately north-east of Bristol, and south-southwest of Birmingham....

 in the north and Weymouth and Brighton
Brighton
Brighton is the major part of the city of Brighton and Hove in East Sussex, England on the south coast of Great Britain...

 in the south to Bristol and Bath. The company also ran the local routes and branch lines in Devon
Devon
Devon is a large county in southwestern England. The county is sometimes referred to as Devonshire, although the term is rarely used inside the county itself as the county has never been officially "shired", it often indicates a traditional or historical context.The county shares borders with...

 and Cornwall
Cornwall
Cornwall is a unitary authority and ceremonial county of England, within the United Kingdom. It is bordered to the north and west by the Celtic Sea, to the south by the English Channel, and to the east by the county of Devon, over the River Tamar. Cornwall has a population of , and covers an area of...

, such as the Newquay
Newquay
Newquay is a town, civil parish, seaside resort and fishing port in Cornwall, England. It is situated on the North Atlantic coast of Cornwall approximately west of Bodmin and north of Truro....

, Exmouth
Exmouth, Devon
Exmouth is a port town, civil parish and seaside resort in East Devon, England, sited on the east bank of the mouth of the River Exe. In 2001, it had a population of 32,972.-History:...

 and St Ives
St Ives, Cornwall
St Ives is a seaside town, civil parish and port in Cornwall, England, United Kingdom. The town lies north of Penzance and west of Camborne on the coast of the Celtic Sea. In former times it was commercially dependent on fishing. The decline in fishing, however, caused a shift in commercial...

 holiday lines.

In late 2004, Wessex Trains' area of operation expanded with some trains continuing beyond Worcester to Great Malvern
Great Malvern
Great Malvern is an area of Malvern, Worcestershire, England. It is the historical centre of the town, and the location of the headquarters buildings of the of Malvern Town Council, the governing body of the Malvern civil parish, and Malvern Hills District council of the county of...

.

For a fuller description of the routes operated by Wessex Trains, see the following links.
  • Main Lines:
  • Great Western Main Line
    Great Western Main Line
    The Great Western Main Line is a main line railway in Great Britain that runs westwards from London Paddington station to the west of England and South Wales. The core Great Western Main Line runs from London Paddington to Temple Meads railway station in Bristol. A major branch of the Great...

     (London-Bristol-Exeter-Plymouth-Penzance)
  • South Wales Main Line
    South Wales Main Line
    The South Wales Main Line , originally known as the London, Bristol and South Wales Direct Railway or simply as the Bristol and South Wales Direct Railway, is a branch of the Great Western Main Line in Great Britain...

     (Bristol-Cardiff-Swansea-West Wales)
  • Wessex Main Line
    Wessex Main Line
    The Wessex Main Line is the railway line from Bristol Temple Meads to Southampton. Diverging from this route is the Heart of Wessex Line from Westbury to Weymouth.- Places served :The places served are listed below.*Bristol*Keynsham*Oldfield Park*Bath...

     (Bristol-Bath-Salisbury-Southampton)
  • West Coastway Line
    West Coastway Line
    The West Coastway Line is a railway line in England, along the south coast of West Sussex and Hampshire, between Brighton and Southampton, plus the short branches to Littlehampton and Bognor Regis....

     (Southampton-Portsmouth-Brighton)
  • Secondary Lines:
  • Atlantic Coast Line
    Atlantic Coast Line, Cornwall
    The Atlantic Coast Line is a community railway line in Cornwall, United Kingdom. The line runs from the English Channel at Par, to the Atlantic Ocean at Newquay.-Route:The Atlantic Coast Line starts from Par station, in the village and port of Par...

     (Par-Newquay)
  • Avocet Line
    Avocet Line
    The Avocet Line is the railway line in England connecting Exeter with Exmouth. It was originally built by the London and South Western Railway. The line follows the Exe Estuary for most of its route, giving views of the estuary...

     (Exeter-Exmouth)
  • Golden Valley Line
    Golden Valley Line
    The Golden Valley Line is a railway line from Swindon to Cheltenham in the UK.The line was originally built as the Cheltenham and Great Western Union Railway in the 1840s...

     (Swindon-Gloucester)
  • Heart of Wessex Line
    Heart of Wessex Line
    The Heart of Wessex Line, also known as the Bristol to Weymouth line, is a United Kingdom railway line that runs from Bristol to Westbury to Weymouth...

     (Westbury-Weymouth)
  • Looe Valley Line
    Looe Valley Line
    The Looe Valley Line is an community railway from Liskeard to Looe in Cornwall, United Kingdom, that follows the valley of the East Looe River for much of its course...

     (Liskeard-Looe)
  • Maritime Line
    Maritime Line
    The Maritime Line is a railway line that runs in the valley of the River Fal from Truro to Falmouth on the south coast of Cornwall, United Kingdom.-History:...

     (Truro-Falmouth)
  • Riviera Line
    Riviera Line
    The Riviera Line is a local railway line that connects the city of Exeter to the "English Riviera" resorts of Torbay in Devon, England. It is closely linked with the Exeter to Plymouth Line with which it shares the route along the South Devon sea wall...

     (Exeter-Paignton)
  • Severn Beach Line
    Severn Beach Line
    The Severn Beach Line is a local railway in Bristol, UK. It runs from Narroways Hill Junction to Severn Beach, and is the successor to the Bristol Port Railway and Pier, which ran from a Bristol terminus in the Avon Gorge to a station and pier on the Severn Estuary.Passenger trains run from Bristol...

     (Bristol-Avonmouth-Severn Beach)
  • St Ives Bay Line
    St Ives Bay Line
    The St Ives Bay Line is a railway line from to in Cornwall, United Kingdom. It was opened in 1877, the last new broad gauge passenger railway to be constructed in the country...

     (St. Erth-St. Ives)
  • Tamar Valley Line
    Tamar Valley Line
    The Tamar Valley Line is a railway line from Devonport in Plymouth Devon, to Gunnislake in Cornwall, United Kingdom. The line follows the River Tamar for much of its route.-History:...

     (Plymouth-Gunnislake)
  • Tarka Line
    Tarka Line
    The Tarka Line is a railway line from Exeter to Barnstaple in Devon, England. The line follows the River Creedy, River Yeo and River Taw for some of its route...

     (Exeter-Barnstaple)

Rolling stock


Wessex Trains' fleet consisted entirely of diesel multiple unit
Diesel multiple unit
A diesel multiple unit or DMU is a multiple unit train consisting of multiple carriages powered by one or more on-board diesel engines. They may also be referred to as a railcar or railmotor, depending on country.-Design:...

s (DMUs), which worked day-to-day passenger services. During some periods, the company hired Fragonset Railways Class 31
British Rail Class 31
The British Rail Class 31 diesel locomotives, also known as the Brush Type 2 and originally as Class 30, were built by Brush Traction from 1957-62.- Description :...

 diesel locomotive
Diesel locomotive
A diesel locomotive is a type of railroad locomotive in which the prime mover is a diesel engine, a reciprocating engine operating on the Diesel cycle as invented by Dr. Rudolf Diesel...

s and Mark 2
British Rail Mark 2
The Mark 2 family of railway carriages were British Rail's second design of carriages. They were built by British Rail workshops between 1964 and 1975...

 coaching stock to work longer distance services. The regular use of locomotive-haulage ended on 4 December 2004.

For further details of the DMU fleet, see the following links:
  • Class 143
    British Rail Class 143
    The British Rail Class 143 is a diesel multiple unit, part of the Pacer family of trains introduced between 1985 and 1986. They originally worked in the North-East of England but were later transferred to Wales and South-West England....

     - Used on commuter services around Bristol and Avon - refubished in 2000
  • Class 150
    British Rail Class 150
    The British Rail Class 150 "Sprinter" diesel multiple units were built by BREL from 1984-87. A total of 137 units were built in three main subclasses, replacing many of the earlier first-generation "Heritage" DMUs.- Background :...

     - Used on the majority of services - refurbished in 2002-2003
  • Class 153
    British Rail Class 153
    The British Rail Class 153 Super Sprinter is a single car diesel multiple unit converted from British Rail Class 155s.-Description:These units were originally built as two-car Class 155 units by British Leyland from 1987–88, but were converted by Hunslet-Barclay at Kilmarnock from 1991-92...

     - Used on lightly used routes and for strengthening other services
  • Class 158
    British Rail Class 158
    British Rail Class 158 Express Sprinter is a diesel multiple-unit train, built for British Rail between 1989 and 1992 by BREL at its Derby Works. They were built to replace many locomotive-hauled passenger trains, and allowed cascading of existing Sprinter units to replace elderly 'heritage' DMUs...

     - Used on long distance services on the Wessex Main Line and normally marketed as Alphaline
    Alphaline
    Alphaline was a 1990s brand used by British Rail to differentiate certain provincial express trains with enhanced passenger accommodation from general regional and middle-distance services operated by older rolling stock.-Origins:...

    .


Some of the Class 158s were converted to three coaches. Unlike the purpose-built three car Class 158s and Class 159
British Rail Class 159
The British Rail Class 159 is a class of diesel multiple unit of the Sprinter family, built in 1989 - 1992 by BREL at the Derby Carriage and Wagon Works as Class 158...

s, the centre car was a Driving Motor with the cab
Cab
The word cab has a number of meanings, most of which are abbreviations:In transport:* Cabriolet, a horse-drawn carriage* Taxicab* Cabin * Cab , the driving compartment of a locomotive...

 locked out of use and an adapter to connect the different sized gangways.
Class Image Type Top speed Number Built
mph km/h
Class 143 Pacer
British Rail Class 143
The British Rail Class 143 is a diesel multiple unit, part of the Pacer family of trains introduced between 1985 and 1986. They originally worked in the North-East of England but were later transferred to Wales and South-West England....

Diesel multiple unit
Diesel multiple unit
A diesel multiple unit or DMU is a multiple unit train consisting of multiple carriages powered by one or more on-board diesel engines. They may also be referred to as a railcar or railmotor, depending on country.-Design:...

75 120 8 (one scrapped due to fire at which reduced the fleet to 7) 1985-1986
Class 150 Sprinter
British Rail Class 150
The British Rail Class 150 "Sprinter" diesel multiple units were built by BREL from 1984-87. A total of 137 units were built in three main subclasses, replacing many of the earlier first-generation "Heritage" DMUs.- Background :...

Diesel multiple unit
Diesel multiple unit
A diesel multiple unit or DMU is a multiple unit train consisting of multiple carriages powered by one or more on-board diesel engines. They may also be referred to as a railcar or railmotor, depending on country.-Design:...

75 120 25 1984-1987
Class 153 Super Sprinter
British Rail Class 153
The British Rail Class 153 Super Sprinter is a single car diesel multiple unit converted from British Rail Class 155s.-Description:These units were originally built as two-car Class 155 units by British Leyland from 1987–88, but were converted by Hunslet-Barclay at Kilmarnock from 1991-92...

Diesel multiple unit
Diesel multiple unit
A diesel multiple unit or DMU is a multiple unit train consisting of multiple carriages powered by one or more on-board diesel engines. They may also be referred to as a railcar or railmotor, depending on country.-Design:...

75 120 13 1987-1988
Class 158 Express Sprinter
British Rail Class 158
British Rail Class 158 Express Sprinter is a diesel multiple-unit train, built for British Rail between 1989 and 1992 by BREL at its Derby Works. They were built to replace many locomotive-hauled passenger trains, and allowed cascading of existing Sprinter units to replace elderly 'heritage' DMUs...

Diesel multiple unit
Diesel multiple unit
A diesel multiple unit or DMU is a multiple unit train consisting of multiple carriages powered by one or more on-board diesel engines. They may also be referred to as a railcar or railmotor, depending on country.-Design:...

90 145 12 1989-1992
Mark 2 coach
British Rail Mark 2
The Mark 2 family of railway carriages were British Rail's second design of carriages. They were built by British Rail workshops between 1964 and 1975...

Passenger
Passenger
A passenger is a term broadly used to describe any person who travels in a vehicle, but bears little or no responsibility for the tasks required for that vehicle to arrive at its destination....

 Rolling stock
Rolling stock
Rolling stock comprises all the vehicles that move on a railway. It usually includes both powered and unpowered vehicles, for example locomotives, railroad cars, coaches and wagons...

100 160 5 1969-1975

External links


  • BBC News Online
    BBC News Online
    BBC News Online is the website of BBC News, the division of the BBC responsible for newsgathering and production. The website is the most popular news website in the United Kingdom and forms a major part of BBC Online ....

     - Train firm goes back on bike ban
  • BBC News Online
    BBC News Online
    BBC News Online is the website of BBC News, the division of the BBC responsible for newsgathering and production. The website is the most popular news website in the United Kingdom and forms a major part of BBC Online ....

     - Commuters escape from train blaze