Were there Cross-country services pre-nationalisation, before 1947?

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PaxmanValenta

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Hi
Were there scheduled crosscountry services before 1947? If so what railway companies would have operated the routes, for example would LNER have operated services from Newcastle to Plymouth, and would GWR have operated services from Devon and Cornwall to the North East?

What classes of steam locomotives would have been used on early XC services?
When were XC services first introduced?

Any other information would be appreciated.

Thanks
 
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CatfordCat

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Hi
Were there scheduled crosscountry services before 1947? If so what railway companies would have operated the routes, for example would LNER have operated services from Newcastle to Plymouth, and would GWR have operated services from Devon and Cornwall to the North East?

What classes of steam locomotives would have been used on early XC services?
When were XC services first introduced?

Any other information would be appreciated.

Thanks

What would probably be described as 'cross country' services go back before 1923 grouping.

The 'Sunny South Express' between the north west and the south coast goes back to 1910 at least (photo and bit of info on NRM website here)

Wikipedia says that the 'Pines Express' between Bournemouth and Manchester (it says joint LNWR & Midland) began in 1910, in response to an earlier GWR / LSWR service between Birkenhead and Bournemouth.

These services would have been run jointly between railway companies, and locos (and loco crews) would have been changed at various points along the way, so although some locos would have gone beyond their own companies' boundaries, they would not often have hauled the train the whole way.
 

oldman

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You may find this page covering 1935 interesting. It includes the interwar Aberdeen-Penzance through coach, Birkenhead to Dover and many more. A lot of these were portions rather than complete trains.
 

Bevan Price

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Even before the 1923 grouping, there were a few trains jointly operated by 2 or more railways. But there was nothing like the regular interval pattern now operated by XC. Often, there would be just one daily train each way - with maybe an extra train in summer. And some of the services could not really be described as "fast"

GWR locos were mostly out of gauge on other railways (often too wide over the cylinders), so normally operated no further than an agreed interchange point between adjacent railway companies. The same service patterns continued into the BR era, often until the early 1960s.

The routes used were often different to those used now by XC. For example, a Newcastle - Bournemouth service used the GCR line, connecting to the GWR line at Banbury. In later years, ex-LNER locos sometimes worked as far as Oxford, being replaced there by ex-SR Light Pacifics.

Liverpool / Manchester to Devon / Cornwall trains ran via Shrewsbury, Hereford & Severn Tunnel. Loco changes could occur at Shrewsbury, Hereford or Pontypool Road.
 

randyrippley

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Of course the very reason the Midland took an interest in the Somerset & Dorset was to allow this very kind of thing: it gave the Midland direct access to the south coast, and also to the south west via the LSWR route, switching direction at Templecombe.
Remember that the Midland very much existed as a cross-country network: admittedly mainly freight, but its network had tentacles and running rights over much of the country. Think of the Birmingham - Bristol line: its building by the Midland only makes sense within the context of a "cross country" concept
 

SouthDevonian

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The old 'Midland Railway' part of the LMS ran services between Bristol and Bradford Forster Square / Newcastle. Bristol was regarded as an Iron Curtain for these services apart from the Devonian that ran between Bradford and Paignton. However for much of the year this comprised just a few coaches which were attached to another service for the run south west of Bristol. In the summer months, the whole train went to Paignton. Whilst the LM regarded the Devonian as an express between Leeds & Bristol with relatively few stops and fast timings, the GW journey was slow with many stops.

After WWII, holiday traffic increased considerably and summer Friday night / Saturday through NE-SW trains proliferated, reaching a peak in the late 1950s. However, at other times things were quieter. Until September 1962 (when the Cornishman was diverted north of Cheltenham from the Stratford / Birmingham Snow Hill / Wolverhampton LL line to the Midland route as far as Sheffield), the Devonian was still the only M-F Midland line service to go south west of Bristol. It was not until Spring 1967 that a third through service was added but after that the numbers increased year by year. From Spring 1970, SW-Manchester/Liverpool were diverted from the Severn Tunnel / Hereford / Shrewsbury route to the Midland as far north as New St.
 

Calthrop

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The routes used were often different to those used now by XC. For example, a Newcastle - Bournemouth service used the GCR line, connecting to the GWR line at Banbury. In later years, ex-LNER locos sometimes worked as far as Oxford, being replaced there by ex-SR Light Pacifics.

A service akin to this one, which has always intrigued me -- and on which I'd love to have travelled -- was a LNER / GWR job which ran between Newcastle and Cardiff: division point between companies being Banbury, as above. Between Banbury and Cheltenham the train was routed over branch lines: via Chipping Norton, and the curve which avoided Kingham station, crossing on a bridge over the Oxford -- Worcester line.
 

Welshman

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Even before the 1923 grouping, there were a few trains jointly operated by 2 or more railways. But there was nothing like the regular interval pattern now operated by XC. Often, there would be just one daily train each way - with maybe an extra train in summer. And some of the services could not really be described as "fast"

GWR locos were mostly out of gauge on other railways (often too wide over the cylinders), so normally operated no further than an agreed interchange point between adjacent railway companies. The same service patterns continued into the BR era, often until the early 1960s.

The routes used were often different to those used now by XC. For example, a Newcastle - Bournemouth service used the GCR line, connecting to the GWR line at Banbury. In later years, ex-LNER locos sometimes worked as far as Oxford, being replaced there by ex-SR Light Pacifics.

Liverpool / Manchester to Devon / Cornwall trains ran via Shrewsbury, Hereford & Severn Tunnel. Loco changes could occur at Shrewsbury, Hereford or Pontypool Road.

IIIC in the early 60s the Newcastle-Bournemouth ran only during the summer timetables.
It's winter equivalent was a short-working from York to Banbury and return, using one of the relatively-new 1st Gen. Dmus.

This was the longest scheduled working for a dmu at that time.
 

ChiefPlanner

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A service akin to this one, which has always intrigued me -- and on which I'd love to have travelled -- was a LNER / GWR job which ran between Newcastle and Cardiff: division point between companies being Banbury, as above. Between Banbury and Cheltenham the train was routed over branch lines: via Chipping Norton, and the curve which avoided Kingham station, crossing on a bridge over the Oxford -- Worcester line.
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A very long standing service from around / before 1914 - "The Ports to Ports Express" - from Swansea via the Vale of Glamorgan to serve Barry - to Hull. Core traffics being mariners being rerouted from one job to another, - there were interesting through carriages - in the 1930's the GWR had a Penzance - Aberdeen , attached and detached several times.
 

Calthrop

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A very long standing service from around / before 1914 - "The Ports to Ports Express" - from Swansea via the Vale of Glamorgan to serve Barry - to Hull. Core traffics being mariners being rerouted from one job to another, - there were interesting through carriages - in the 1930's the GWR had a Penzance - Aberdeen , attached and detached several times.

I remember reading a Royal-Navy-in-World-War-II-set novel; at one point of which, RN sailors are talking about the intricacies of rail journeys which they must make between ports on different coasts of Great Britain -- describing the procedure in nautical, rather than land-transport, terms. Found this rather charming.
 

Taunton

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A service akin to this one, which has always intrigued me -- and on which I'd love to have travelled -- was a LNER / GWR job which ran between Newcastle and Cardiff: division point between companies being Banbury, as above. Between Banbury and Cheltenham the train was routed over branch lines: via Chipping Norton, and the curve which avoided Kingham station, crossing on a bridge over the Oxford -- Worcester line.
This train had been around indeed for a long time, back to pre-Grouping days, possibly to the opening of the GCR London Extension. Sometimes it ran by the route described, known to the crews as "Over the Alps", via Chipping Norton (a decidedly non-main line section which I believe nothing larger than a 43xx could be used on), and other years more straightforwardly, and possibly faster, from Banbury via Didcot West Curve, Swindon and the Severn Tunnel, hauled by a Castle - which was also the way a lot of freight between the North East and South Wales used to go as well, to avoid the LMS getting a share of the revenue.

These relatively few direct services often ran through the middle of the day, passing one another en route, and so using a rake of stock from the two contributing companies on alternate days.
 

Calthrop

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This train had been around indeed for a long time, back to pre-Grouping days, possibly to the opening of the GCR London Extension. Sometimes it ran by the route described, known to the crews as "Over the Alps", via Chipping Norton (a decidedly non-main line section which I believe nothing larger than a 43xx could be used on), and other years more straightforwardly, and possibly faster, from Banbury via Didcot West Curve, Swindon and the Severn Tunnel, hauled by a Castle - which was also the way a lot of freight between the North East and South Wales used to go as well, to avoid the LMS getting a share of the revenue.

To which (my bolding above) right-thinking people would riposte, "stuff more straightforwardly, and faster -- weird seldom-used routes in the back of beyond, are the way to go" :).

If I'm right, LSWR / SR railwaymen used likewise to refer to the route between London and Winchester and points south, via Alton and Alresford -- sometimes used for diversions of long-distance trains, and shorter in mileage but more hilly and less accommodating of heavy loads, than the main line -- as "Over the Alps".

Alpine-related humour, about hills not really in a worldwide context all that high, is of course universal. Such as, "the Dutch Alps" -- the hills in the funny "panhandle" bit of the Netherlands at their far south-east end, including Maastricht: said hills achieving a dizzy maximum 323 metres (about 1000 feet) above sea level.
 
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SouthDevonian

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In answer to the OP's question about steam haulage on the Newcastle - Plymouth route, I found an answer in an old edition of Steam Days. Pre-1935, only small locos were permitted to use the route between Derby & Bristol, presumably due to weight restrictions on bridges. These were LMS Class 4 4-4-0 Compounds which meant heavily loaded trains had to be double headed that resulted in delays in taking water and the line had a poor reputation for lateness. From Jan 1935, 4-6-0 5X Jubilees were permitted to use the route and those allocated to Leeds Holbeck shed worked through to Bristol. In the summer of that year Black 5s were allocated to Bristol & Gloucester. After the war, Jubilees were the mainstay between Bristol & Sheffield / Leeds / York (tank engines were used between Leeds & Bradford) until the Peaks took over in the period June 1961 to 1963. South West of Bristol, the WR used mostly Castles for the Devonian's travels to & from Paignton until these were replaced by D8xx Warships. From 1969, the Iron Curtain at Bristol was lifted & Peaks started to work through to the far south west.
 

Taunton

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Certainly few LM locos ever worked beyond Bristol, about the only exception being summer excursions to Weston-Super-Mare, which were allowed to take their Black 5 right through to avoid changing locos to a Western one which would then be tied up at Weston all day waiting for the return.
Pre-1935, only small locos were permitted to use the route between Derby & Bristol, presumably due to weight restrictions on bridges. These were LMS Class 4 4-4-0 Compounds which meant heavily loaded trains had to be double headed that resulted in delays in taking water and the line had a poor reputation for lateness.
I believe that until this time 4-4-0s were all that were available for any Midland Division services on the LMS. However, the GWR had running powers between Standish and Westerleigh over the Midland line to Bristol, for their own Birmingham-Bristol services via Stratford. To make life difficult for them, I believe there was a weight restriction over Charfield Viaduct, which just fitted the LMS 4-4-0s but prevented the GWR 4-6-0s running there, so they had to use their County class 38xx 4-4-0s until the early 1930s.
 

Bevan Price

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I believe that until this time 4-4-0s were all that were available for any Midland Division services on the LMS. However, the GWR had running powers between Standish and Westerleigh over the Midland line to Bristol, for their own Birmingham-Bristol services via Stratford. To make life difficult for them, I believe there was a weight restriction over Charfield Viaduct, which just fitted the LMS 4-4-0s but prevented the GWR 4-6-0s running there, so they had to use their County class 38xx 4-4-0s until the early 1930s.

Yes - the Midland Railway had a small engine policy, which continued for several years after the LMSR was formed. No passenger locos larger than the 4-4-0 compounds, and no freight locos larger than the 4F 0-6-0s. Even though the Midland built a pretty good freight 2-8-0 for the Somerset & Dorset Railway, they preferred the inefficiency of using a pair of small 0-6-0s on their own freights.
 
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