My last blog was written after a stroll down the old South Staffs Rail line towards Brownhills. That was June 2014 and since then we have had autumn and winter pass by and today as I write this it’s starting to feel like spring.
As spring brings new life to plants and nature we all start to get excited in planning for summer holidays, the warmer weather (hopefully!) and days out.
Rail enthusiasts are also getting excited in our area and beyond because during half-term week this month (February) there are engineering work diversions for Cross Country Trains between Birmingham and Burton and Birmingham and Nuneaton.
During the weekdays Cross Country will be running some of their Birmingham – Burton – Derby & onwards service along the Cross City line via Lichfield City and Alrewas. Network Rail have asked and consulted with London Midland to reduce the frequency of services on the cross city line to accommodate these diverted services on what is already a very busy route. The revised Cross City time-table can be found here http://www.londonmidland.com/download/92410.5/170214-cross-city/ . So that’s one diversion over the former South Staffs line between Lichfield City and Burton upon Trent.
The really more exciting route for enthusiasts and others alike is that passenger trains to and from Nuneaton are to run via the Sutton Park line through Ryecroft Junction, Aldridge towards Water Orton and Castle Bromwich. Some Cross Country Nottingham – Cardiff services as well as Birmingham – Leicester (and onwards) passenger trains will mix in between the regular freight trains on this route. You may well be lucky to travel through platform 3 at Walsall going north now the link has been re-opened and re-signalled although I suspect most will be through platform 1. On the return you could be through what was platform 4 or platform 2 which is the most likely route.
Driver route knowledge updates have been under way for some time and indeed our friends of the Sutton Park line have witnessed this and the railcar in use. Click here to see their report http://loco-park.blogspot.co.uk/
Overall I think many people are going to buy a rail ticket just to travel on this area of the rail network that doesn’t see passenger diverted services often.
Whilst its not easy to give you a complete run-down here of what passengers services will use the diverted Sutton park Route here is a link to Realtime Trains website that many people use, showing some services through Park Lane Jn West Mids.
I’m away in Dublin the first part of the week but hope to traverse it both ways later in that week.
For those who like taking pictures you can get close to the Sutton Park line via the Streetly Gate at Sutton Park and walk down to the public crossing across the line. However whilst it’s a public right of way across the line please observe the usual safety precautions. I know its common sense but have seen people in the past standing in the middle of the four foot taking a picture without any due care or attention to approaching traffic on the line from other direction.
Enjoy this unique opportunity whilst you can but remember safety first for you, passengers and crew of these diverted trains as the line is going to be busier than normal.
Dave Cresswell – February 2014