First North Western

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
First North Western
First north western logo.svg
153316 at Carlisle.JPG
Franchise(s): North West Regional Railways
2 March 1997 - 11 December 2004
Main region(s): North West, North Wales
Other region(s): London, Birmingham, Yorkshire
Fleet size: 184
Stations called at: 247
National Rail abbreviation: NW
Parent company: FirstGroup

First North Western[1] was a train operating company in the United Kingdom owned by First that operated the North West Regional Railways franchise from March 1997 until December 2004.

The franchise was developed out of the North Western section of Regional Railways, one of the distinct regional sectors of British Rail which were established in the lead-up to privatisation. For a brief period from 1989, this section was operated under the short-lived Network NorthWest brand name,[2][3] before changing to the Regional Railways brand. In 1997 the franchise was awarded by the Director of Passenger Rail Franchising to Great Western Holdings. In March 1998 First bought the remaining 75.5% of shares it did not own to give it 100% ownership.[4][5] First rebranded the franchise from North Western Trains to First North Western.


First North Western operated a mix of urban and rural passenger services in North West England and North Wales, radiating out from Manchester to Birmingham, Chester, Holyhead, Liverpool, Blackpool North, Windermere and Sheffield.[6]

First North Western operated services from Rochdale and Manchester Airport to London Euston from 1997 until 1999.

From May 2003 services from Manchester ceased operating south of Stoke-on-Trent and Crewe.[7]

Rolling stock[edit]

First North Western inherited a fleet of Mark 2 carriages, Class 101, Class 142, Class 150, Class 156, Class 158, Class 309 and Class 323s.

To operate the services to London Euston Class 322s were hired from West Anglia Great Northern from 1997 until 1999.

First North Western ordered 11 two-carriage and 16 three-carriage Class 175 Coradias to replace the Mark 2 carriages and Class 101s.

Problems with the Class 175s saw locomotive hauled trains reinstated on North Wales services from June 2002, with EWS Class 47s and First Great Western Mark 2 carriages.[8]

In February 2004 Class 31s were hired from Fragonset to top and tail Mark 2 carriages on Blackpool to Chester services.

Class Image Type Top speed Number Built
mph km/h
Class 101 101692 at Arley.JPG Diesel multiple unit 75 120 6 1956-1959
Class 142 Pacer Pacer at Manchester Victoria.jpg Diesel multiple unit 75 120 79 1985-1987
Class 150 Sprinter Blaenau First.jpg Diesel multiple unit 75 120 27 1984-1987
Class 153 Super Sprinter 153316 at Carlisle.JPG Diesel multiple unit 75 120 8 1987-1988
Class 156 Super Sprinter 156427 at Carlisle.JPG Diesel multiple unit 75 120 18 1987-1989
Class 158 Express Sprinter 158751 at Westbury.JPG Diesel multiple unit 90 145 8 1989-1992
Class 175 Coradia 175111 'Brief Encounter' at Crewe.jpg Diesel multiple unit 100 160 27 1999-2001
Class 322 Stnstn.jpg Electric multiple unit 100 160 4 1990
Class 323 323225 at Manchester Piccadilly.JPG Electric multiple unit 90 145 17 1992-1993
A First North Western Class 156 at Romiley Junction, near Manchester in 2001. It is in Regional Railways livery.


First North Western's diesel fleet was maintained at Newton Heath Depot, the electric fleet at Lonsight Depot. The Class 175s were maintained at a purpose built depot in Chester.


In 2000 the Strategic Rail Authority announced that it planned to create a new TransPennine Express franchise transferring First North Western's Barrow-in-Furness and Windermere services, with the North Wales Coast Line services transferred to a new Wales & Borders franchise and the remaining services combined those of Arriva Trains Northern to form a new Northern Rail franchise.[9][10]

On 28 September 2003 the North Wales Coast Line services transferred to Wales & Borders.

On 28 July 2003 the Strategic Rail Authority awarded the TransPennine franchise to First/Keolis with services operated by First North Western transferring to First TransPennine Express on 1 February 2004.[11]

On 1 July 2004 the Strategic Rail Authority awarded the Northern franchise to Abellio/Serco with the remaining services operated by First North Western transferring to Northern Rail on 12 December 2004.[12]


  1. ^ Companies House extract company no 3007946 North Western Trains Company Limited
  2. ^ "Summary of Events: 1986 to 2002". Museum of Transport Greater Manchester. Archived from the original on 11 November 2011. Retrieved 30 June 2014. 
  3. ^ "Network Northwest". Rail (EMAP) (93): 39. 6 April 1989. ISSN 0953-4563. 
  4. ^ Rail bosses cash in on privatised gravy train The Independent 7 March 1998
  5. ^ FirstGroup Annual Report 31 March 1999 First Group plc
  6. ^ Timetables First North Western 29 November 1999
  7. ^ First North Western Announces Minimal Service Changes First North Western May 2003
  8. ^ First North Western]
  9. ^ The Trans-Pennine Express rail franchise Yorkshire & The Humber Transport Activist's Roundtable Briefing Note October 2001
  10. ^ The Wales and Borders Franchise House of Commons Select Committee on Welsh Affairs Third Report 17 March 2004
  11. ^ SRA Announce Preferred Bidder for TransPennine Express Franchise Strategic Rail Authority Press Release 28 July 2003
  12. ^ Serco joint venture selected as preferred bidder for Northern Rail train operating franchise Serco Group plc Press Release 1 July 2004

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Regional Railways
(Network NorthWest)
As part of British Rail
Operator of the North West Regional Railways franchise
1997 - 2004
Succeeded by
Wales & Borders
North Wales Coast services
Succeeded by
First TransPennine Express
TransPennine franchise
Succeeded by
Northern Rail
Northern franchise