Monday, 5 December 2011

Mainline trains on South Staffs Rail and Cross City Line


On Saturday 26th November the northern part of the Cross City Line (Aston to Lichfield City) and South Staffs line (Lichfield City to Wichnor Junction) was busier than ever.

Due to engineering work elsewhere Cross Country trains between Birmingham and Derby and beyond were diverted over the line. London Midland who are currently running a special leaf fall timetable ran a modified service to enable the diverted trains a suitable timing path through.

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Some Cross Country services ran late and therefore caused delays to London Midland services. London Midland had to issue special instructions to its drivers to not stop at some of the stations on the route so that they could get back to time once arriving in New Street. I know as I was videoing  at various stations and several London Midland services were shown as cancelled en-route. It was not the best of weather with biting winds and many passengers including myself had to wait 20 mins or longer for a service.

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A compilation of video footage that myself and Rob Taylor took can be found at http://southstaffsrail.webs.com/apps/videos/videos/show/15406318-xc-diversions-full-x-city-coverage
It was a peculiar sight seeing mainline trains going through the Junction at Aston on and off the cross city line interspersed with London Midland trains. Incidentally London Midland trains looked a lot cleaner than the Cross Country Services.

Some freight trains were even diverted over the route which I’m sure hasn't seen a lot of freight through there since the steam days (unless of course you know different)

 
Of course it could have been a very different story up until the early 1980’s when the lines between Walsall (Ryecroft Junction) and Brownhills (Anglesey Sidings – Newtown Bridge) were lifted on the South Staffordshire line.

If the lines had been there then London Midland wouldn't have had to create a special timetable or delay or cancel some train stopping points.

Cross Country and freight trains could have used the South Staffs line between Birmingham and Lichfield City to good effect. Again in hindsight I wonder if the powers that be in the 1980’s had considered that freight traffic would grow again as the latest statistics show and that people would return to the railway.

There’s no more a telling point on this than the ever increasing amount of passengers on the Rugeley Trent Valley to Birmingham via Walsall Services. Again a Line that John Robinson McClean created under the South Staffs Railway Banner to move Coal from the various pits.

 
And its a bit ironic that the former South Staffordshire line from Pleck Junction to towards Dudley is going to be used as a turn back siding as far as the M6 Bridge for Freightliner Coal trains from Rugeley which will then go onto the Sutton Park line and Vice-versa

Travel West Midlands run a very frequent Bus Service between Walsall and Brownhills every ten minutes during the day and some run through to Burntwood. The number of people I hear these days saying they wish that the railway line was open to Brownhills and Lichfield and I bet London Midland the current main local train operating company in the West Midlands wishes so two.

As for the passengers who wish to get to Lichfield from Walsall  its probably quicker and more reliable to catch the train from Walsall to Lichfield changing at Aston or Birmingham New Street than catch that bus which runs roughly every 90 mins if your lucky.

For more info on the South Staffs Railway please click here southstaffsrail.co.uk

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