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Railwatch 071 - April 1997


By Alan Bevan

Stations signalled Five sites for possible new stations have been identified in Worcestershire by the county council - Henwick, Rushwick, Malvern Wells, Withington and Fladbury. South Worcestershire will benefit from nearby Ashchurch station expected to open in May. A novel 18ft high clock tower which waves its signal arms every 15 minutes has been provided in the station car park.

Stations old and new Smethwick West station saw its last passenger trains in September following the construction of Smethwick Galton Bridge (high and low level) just across the road. Other new stations may eventually be provided to serve the convention centre, indoor arena and other developments near the portal of the tunnel fom New Street. Costs are however escalating with the 1995 figure of £5 million mounting to £8 million. Contributions are being sought by the passenger transport authority, the European Union, Railtrack and private companies.

New routes Centro is planning to introduce a new electric train service in October between Walsall and Wolverhampton which RDS has long advocated. Walsall station has been substantially improved with new awnings and facilities at platform level.

Rugeley Trains from Birmingham to Hednesford will be extended to Rugeley in May with work on the new Rugeley Town station getting under way last November. With a further short extension, the trains could also serve Rugeley Trent Valley which is on the West Coast main line.

Metro Work continues apace on the new Metro line. Metro contractors have taken over platform 4 at Snow Hill and are building a tram terminus at the city end of the station.

Reopenings Long stretches of freight-only line could be brought back into passenger use following studies by Centro and consultants Techncon. Intitially the idea is to stop trains at Bromford and Castle Bromwich with more new stations on the route to Tamworth at Hams Hall and Kingsbury. But another link to Walsall could be provided via Castle Bromwich, Streetly and Aldridge. Yet another extension could take trains beyond Walsall to Wednesbury and Dudley.

Rails to Shakespeare country

The potential for better rail services from one of England's premier tourist honeypots at Stratford-upon-Avon is identified in a report by consultants Halcrow Fox Transmark.

They say it would be feasible to run through trains from Stratford to Warwick, Leamington and Coventry. A new Warwick parkway station could be built near the A46 bypass at the foot of Hatton bank.

They also say heritage steam trains could be introduced on the Henley-in-Arden line. They also agree with RDS that it is feasible to reopen the line south from Stratford to Honeybourne, as long as the first half-mile section through Stratford can be safeguarded.

This was the route highlighted by last year's sponsored cycle ride. Unfortunately the Stratford and Broadway Railway Society failed in a bid for Millennium funding to run a steam service.

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