The Info List - First North Western

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


1 History 2 Services 3 Rolling stock 4 Depots 5 Demise 6 References 7 External links

History[edit] In the lead up to the privatisation of British Rail, the North Western section of Regional Railways
Regional Railways
was established. For a brief period from 1989, this section was operated under the short-lived Network NorthWest brand name,[2][3] before becoming North West Regional Railways. The franchise was awarded by the Director of Passenger Rail Franchising to Great Western Holdings,[4][5] with operations commencing on 2 March 1997 under the North West Trains brand.[6] On 27 October 1997, a new livery of dark blue with a gold star was unveiled.[7][8] In March 1998, First bought out the other shareholders in Great Western Holdings.[9][10] The business was rebranded from North Western Trains to First North Western
First North Western
in November 1998 with First’s corporate blue, pink and white livery adopted.[11][12] Services[edit] First North Western
First North Western
operated a mix of urban and rural passenger services in North West England
North West England
and North Wales, radiating out from Manchester to Birmingham, Chester, Holyhead, Liverpool, Blackpool North, Windermere and Sheffield.[13] In May 1998, North Western Trains commenced services from Manchester Airport and Rochdale to London
Euston.[14][15][16] The Manchester Airport service ceased in May 1999.[17][18] and the Rochdale service in May 2000.[19] From May 2003, services from Manchester ceased operating south of Stoke-on-Trent and Crewe.[20] Rolling stock[edit] First North Western
First North Western
inherited a fleet of Mark 2 carriages, Class 101, 142, 150,153, 156 and 158 diesel multiple units, and Class 309 and 323 electric multiple units. To operate the Manchester Airport to London
Euston services, Class 322s were hired from West Anglia Great Northern.[21] First North Western
First North Western
ordered 11 two-carriage and 16 three-carriage Class 175 Coradias to replace the Mark 2 carriages, Class 101s and Class 309s.[22] Originally some were to be 125 mph capable Class 180 Adelantes but this was later changed to an all Class 175 fleet.[23] Problems with the Class 175s saw locomotive hauled trains reinstated on North Wales
North Wales
services from June 2002, with English Welsh & Scottish Class 47s and First Great Western Mark 2 carriages.[24] In February 2004, Class 31s were hired from Fragonset to top and tail Mark 2 carriages on Blackpool to Chester services.[25]

Class Image Type Top speed Number Built

mph km/h


Diesel multiple unit 75 120 6 1956-1959


Diesel multiple unit 75 120 79 1985-1987


Diesel multiple unit 75 120 27 1984-1987


Diesel multiple unit 75 120 8 1987-1988


Diesel multiple unit 75 120 18 1987-1989


Diesel multiple unit 90 145 8 1989-1992

175 Coradia

Diesel multiple unit 100 160 27 1999-2001


electric multiple unit 100 161 9 1962-1963


Electric multiple unit 100 160 4 1990


Electric multiple unit 90 145 17 1992-1993


North Western Trains liveried Class 153 at Carlisle station in August 2004

First North Western's diesel fleet was maintained at Newton Heath Depot, and the electric fleet at Longsight Depot. The Class 175s were maintained at a purpose built depot in Chester. Demise[edit] In 2000, the Strategic Rail Authority
Strategic Rail Authority
announced that it planned to create a new TransPennine Express
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 with those of Arriva Trains Northern to form a new Northern Rail
Northern Rail
franchise.[26][27][28] On 28 September 2003, the North Wales
North Wales
Coast Line services transferred to Wales & Borders. In July 2003, the Strategic Rail Authority
Strategic Rail Authority
awarded the TransPennine franchise to FirstGroup/ Keolis
with services operated by First North Western transferring to First TransPennine Express
First TransPennine Express
on 1 February 2004.[29] In July 2004, the Strategic Rail Authority
Strategic Rail Authority
awarded the Northern franchise to Serco-Abellio
with the remaining services operated by First North Western
First North Western
transferring to Northern Rail
Northern Rail
on 12 December 2004.[30] References[edit]

^ Companies House extract company no 3007946 North Western Trains Company Limited ^ "Summary of Events: 1986 to 2002". Museum of Transport Greater Manchester. Archived from the original on 16 November 2013. Retrieved 30 June 2014.  ^ "Network Northwest". Rail. EMAP (93): 39. 6 April 1989. ISSN 0953-4563.  ^ "Great Western set to win North West franchise" Rail issue 298 12 February 1997 page 7 ^ " Great Western Holdings nets North West Regional Railways" The Railway Magazine issue 1152 April 1997 page 7 ^ "Now it's North Western Trains" The Railway Magazine
The Railway Magazine
issue 1153 May 1997 page 12 ^ "North Western Trains launches new look" Rail issue 317 5 November 1997 page 7 ^ "North Western Trains launches gold trains" Rail Express issue 19 1 December 1997 page 7 ^ Rail bosses cash in on privatised gravy train The Independent 7 March 1998 ^ FirstGroup
Annual Report 31 March 1999 Archived 13 February 2009 at the UK Web Archive First Group plc ^ "GWT to be renamed First Great Western" The Railway Magazine
The Railway Magazine
issue 1172 December 1998 page 4 ^ "It's First North Western" Rail issue 345 2 December 1998 page 14 ^ Timetables First North Western
First North Western
29 November 1999 ^ "New Blackpool- London
services to start this May" Rail issue 322 14 January 1998 page 10 ^ "Rochdale NWT London
service" Rail issue 323 28 January 1998 page 16 ^ "North Western Trains announces London
services" The Railway Magazine issue 1163 March 1998 page 73 ^ "FNW cuts Euston-Manchester service" Rail issue 355 21 April 1999 page 13 ^ " First North Western
First North Western
to axe Manchester- London
service" The Railway Magazine issue 1178 June 1999 page 9 ^ "Rochdale- London
to be axed" The Railway Magazine
The Railway Magazine
issue 1186 February 2000 page 6 ^ First North Western
First North Western
Announces Minimal Service Changes First North Western May 2003 ^ "NWT livery for Class 322 Stansted units" Rail issue 329 22 April 1998 page 12 ^ " FirstGroup
signs for its 110 new GEC DMUs" Rail issue 332 3 June 1998 page 9 ^ " First North Western
First North Western
drops plans for 125mph DMUs" The Railway Magazine issue 1176 April 1999 page 9 ^ First North Western
First North Western
sulzerpower.com ^ "Loco fade-out at Blackpool" The Railway Magazine
The Railway Magazine
issue 1246 February 2005 page 11 ^ "TransPennine TOC to be created by SSRA puts five franchises up for sale early" The Railway Magazine
The Railway Magazine
issue 1189 May 2000 page 37 ^ The Trans-Pennine Express rail franchise Archived 20 October 2004 at the Wayback Machine. Yorkshire
& The Humber Transport Activist's Roundtable Briefing Note October 2001 ^ The Wales and Borders Franchise House of Commons Select Committee on Welsh Affairs Third Report 17 March 2004 ^ SRA Announce Preferred Bidder for TransPennine Express
TransPennine Express
Franchise Archived 15 December 2013 at the Wayback Machine. Strategic Rail Authority Press Release 28 July 2003 ^ Serco joint venture selected as preferred bidder for Northern Rail train operating franchise Archived 27 November 2010 at the Wayback Machine. Serco Group 1 July 2004

External links[edit] Media related to First North Western
First North Western
at Wikimedia Commons

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

Succeeded by First TransPennine Express TransPennine franchise

Succeeded by Northern Rail Northern franchise

v t e

Train operating companies in the United Kingdom

Rail transport in Great Britain Passenger rail franchising in Great Britain



Arriva Trains Wales c2c Caledonian Sleeper Chiltern Railways CrossCountry East Midlands Trains Govia Thameslink Railway Grand Central Greater Anglia Great Western Railway Heathrow Connect Heathrow Express Hull Trains London
Overground Merseyrail NI Railways1 Northern ScotRail Southeastern South Western Railway TfL Rail TransPennine Express Virgin Trains
Virgin Trains
(West Coast) Virgin Trains
Virgin Trains
East Coast West Midlands Trains


Enterprise1 Eurostar Iarnród Éireann
Iarnród Éireann
(Northern Commuter)1 2


Gatwick Express Great Northern Island Line London
Northwestern Night Riviera Southern Stansted Express Stourbridge Shuttle Thameslink West Midlands Railway

1Operates on the Irish railway network. 2One early morning per weekday.

Defunct (since 1994)


Anglia Railways East Coast GNER London
Midland Midland Mainline National Express East Anglia National Express East Coast Virgin CrossCountry Wrexham & Shropshire


Arriva Trains Merseyside Arriva Trains Northern Central Trains First North Western First ScotRail First TransPennine Express2 Northern Rail ScotRail (National Express) Valley Lines Wales & Borders Wales & West Wessex Trains

& South East

Connex South Central Connex South Eastern First Capital Connect First Great Eastern First Great Western Link Gatwick Express2 Island Line3 London
Midland Silverlink4 South Eastern Trains South West Trains Thameslink Thames Trains WAGN

2 Now a sub-brand of Govia Thameslink Railway 3 Now a sub-brand of South Western Railway 4 including Silverlink
County & Silverlink


Future operators

East Coast Trains

Prospective operators

Go-Op Grand Southern Railway Great North Western Railway