South Staffs Railway
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Welcome to South Staffs Railway!
Site last updated: 22 Nov 2017

Why this Site is here

The railway line from Stourbridge to Lichfield is a strategically important link in our national rail network (see map). Although much of it is disused and the track between Walsall and Anglesea was removed in the 1980's, the trackbed is still there, intact. I believe it should be re-instated, stations opened and electrified for the benefit of the community.

This site has been created to enable anyone interested in re-opening the railway line (or any part of it!) to access information that is available.

Latest News:

22 Nov 2017: Express and Star report on the PM visit, published on 21 Nov, quoted Mike Wood (Conservative MP for Dudley South) saying: "Insufficient transport connections have been a major barrier to investment and prosperity in Dudley South..This tram line is an absoluteley vital part in tackling that and initiatives like the Enterprise Zone rest on better connectivity. The business case was based entirely on there being a tram line there. We have one of the largest shopping centres in western Europe, and yet we haven't got a railway station".  I'm sorry, I just had to laugh at that last sentence - Mike Wood MP et al have just made sure there'll NEVER be a railway station in Dudley South!

20 Nov 2017: Theresa May (prime minister) was in Birmingham today to officially launch the investement in local transport which includes installation of the Metro along the SSR from Wednesbury to Dudley. £200Million for 11km of line, trams are expected to be running to Dudley by 2022 and to Merry Hill by 2023... Dudley now has very little chance of ever again seeing a main line train.

October 2017 - there seems to be an ever-decreasing amount of freight running by rail through Walsall. Coal traffic is now extinct and other flows seem to be dwindling, too.

4 Apr 2017: checkout this youtube video of a journey from Walsall to Burton in 1958: (sorry but webs' link generator is not working, please copy and paste it nto the address bar) - it's worth it! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cg_uSuevQ88

20 Jan 2017: the local paper reports that work has begun removing 30 years of foliage from the trackbed of the SSR between Wednesbury and Merry Hill in order to 'asses the cost of building the Midland Metro extension and do a cost-benefit analysis'. If the trackbed ever gets a Metro line it will never be restored to heavy rail (which is what I believe it desperately needs to be!). I'm advised that it is not possible to stop this happening now - the poor people of Dudley are doomed to never have the chance to go by rail to Birmingham!

4 Dec 2016: found an interesting site discussing how the Walsall-Dudley section of the SSR might be a candidate for re-opening; please paste this into your browser as freewebs' link generator is still not working (sorry)...
http://railwayreinstatementassociation.co.uk/UK%20LINES%20THAT%20COULD%20REOPEN/west%20midlands/lichfield%20-%20dudley%20-%20sth%20staffs%20railway/walsall.html

October  2016: the collapse of rail-borne coal in the UK has had some serious consequences, including laying off railmen and the exporting of locomotives to the European mainland. There are now many spare 'paths' on our railway network where these coal trains used to run.

2 September 2016. This week the West Midland Rail Franchise document was published. It explains what the new operator (from Oct 2017) is expected to provide. Unfortunately it's 127 pages! Here's the relevant bit:

        Reinstatement of previously operated services
5.49 Some respondents to the consultation asked for a number of specific new, more frequent or reinstated services to be provided. Many of these are only deliverable with significant investment and infrastructure work. These include:
The Camp Hill Line (Birmingham to Kings Norton via Moseley);
Walsall to Stourbridge;
Lichfield to Burton-on-Trent/Derby;
The Sutton Park Line (Walsall to Birmingham via Sutton Coldfield); and
Walsall to Lichfield.

5.50 We are requiring that the franchisee work with WMR, Network Rail, the West Midlands
Combined Authority (WMCA), Local Authorities and other organisations to see how
these schemes could be progressed and delivered in the future. Appendix H sets out
the work Network Rail, WMR, its Local Authority partners and other organisations are
doing to progress these schemes.

We'll see what happens!

For the full 127 pages, you need https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/549119/west-midland-stakeholder-briefing-document-and-consultation-response.pdf

1 June 2016. Today a total of 34 freight trains ran through Walsall and of these, 8 would have used the Walsall-Lichfield line (had it been there) to save mileage, fuel, time and MONEY! Correct up to 22:00 hrs using realtimetrains.

18 May 2016. Today a total of 24 freight trains ran through Walsall and of these, 3 would have used the Walsall-Lichfield line (had it been there) to save mileage, fuel, time and MONEY! Correct up to 21:30 hrs using realtimetrains.

18 Mar 2016. Today a total of 24 freight trains ran through Walsall and of these, 8 would have used the Walsall-Lichfield line (had it been there) to save mileage, fuel, time and MONEY!

1 Feb 2016. Today a total of 29 freight trains ran through Walsall and of these, 12 would have used the Walsall-Lichfield line (had it been there) to save mileage, fuel, time and MONEY! Because of the serious fall in coal traffic, Walsall only saw 2 coal trains today.

18 Jan 2016. Today a total of 27 freight trains ran through Walsall and of these, 10 would have used the Walsall-Lichfield line (had it been there) to save mileage, fuel, time and MONEY!

11 March 2015. There's a petition to get the WALSALL-STOURBRIDGE Rail Line re-opened for HEAVY RAIL (NOT Metro, thanks!). Get signing, folks!! https://submissions.epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/73031

27 Feb 2015. Today a total of 37 freight trains ran through Walsall and of these, 17 would have used the Walsall-Lichfield line (had it been there) to save mileage, fuel, time and MONEY!

The MP for Aldridge-Brownhills (through which the line runs!) is currently Wendy Morton (Tory).

January 2015 - worth a look is this site: http://janfordsworld.blogspot.co.uk/2014/01/walsall-by-rail.html

October 2014 - check out this site for an interesting look at Walsall-Lichfield: http://oakparkrunner.wordpress.com/walsall-to-lichfield-railway-line/

June 2014 - 24 June, a total of 56 freight trains ran through Walsall and of these, 13 could have used the Walsall-Lichfield line (had it been there) to save mileage, fuel, time and MONEY!

June 2014 - it has come to light that in about 1980 a group called 'Orphan' recorded a song called 'Love on the Lichfield Line' - the track was recorded in a Pelsall Recording Studio, so the 'Lichfield Line' referred to could actually be the South Staffs! If you are interested you ca listen to the track here: (opens in a new window):http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EwaZdf_RS-c

Apr 2013 - on 16 Apr, a total of 62 freight trains ran through Walsall and of these, 21 could have used the Walsall-Lichfield line (had it been there) to save mileage, fuel and time! Correct to 21:00 hrs. See below how to use realtimetrains to get this information.

Apr 2013 - Please sign South Staffs Rail's petition: (opens in new window) http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/southstaffsrail/

Apr 2013 - by using a new website http://www.realtimetrains.co.uk (opens in a new window) it is possible to monitor passenger and freight trains in real time. A bit of experimentation permits you to come up with FACTS like this (have a go yourself): On 7 April, a total of 46 freight trains ran through Walsall and of these, 13 could have used the Walsall-Lichfield line (had it been there) to save mileage, fuel and time! Watch this space for further gen!

Jan 2013 - work is proceeding with the installation of a run-round loop just south of Pleck Junction, Walsall, on the formation of the line towards Dudley. It may only be a tiny bit of the SSR to be brought back into use but it IS progress! It (finally) came into use in December 2014!!!

July 2012 - Governement announces big investment in rail which include electrification Walsall-Rugeley (it's only a little line on the map!). Details (opens in new window): http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-18851907

November 2011: Volume 2 of 'The South Staffordshire Railway' (Walsall to Rugeley) by Bob Yate is now available.

November 2010: a book has been published, providing an exhaustive history of the line: 'The South Staffordshire Railway' Volume 1 by Bob Yate priced at £19.95.  ISBN 978 0 85361 700 6 http://www.billhudsontransportbooks.co.uk/selected-product.php?prod=the+south+staffordshire+railway&pid=2345

23 Dec 2009: The Government's Response to the No.10 Petition (see below) has been revealed:

The Government’s response

Centro, the West Midlands Integrated Transport Authority, promotes and develops public transport across the region and leads on plans for re-use of the Stourbridge – Dudley – Walsall rail corridor for passenger use. 

Earlier this year (2009) Centro and partners published a draft West Midlands Region Rail Development Plan.  The plan looks at network-wide issues such as reliability and access, and considers the development of services, facilities, and other infrastructure on a detailed line by line basis.  It identifies improvement of the Stourbridge – Dudley – Walsall line as a strategically important infrastructure scheme for the next railway investment period, between 2013/14 and 2018/19.  The current proposal is for a Metro tram-train service.

Centro have recently consulted on a new “Integrated Public Transport Prospectus”, to replace the 20 Year Public Transport Strategy.  They are considering the comments received and intend to produce a final draft version for consideration by the West Midlands Integrated Transport Authority early next year

The approach taken in determining the type of public transport for main routes in this strategy is based on the need to provide the right type of capacity for differing demand flows. Broadly this is:

Quality Bus Corridor
Sprint - Bus Rapid Transit
Metro / Tram – train
Suburban Rail

Typical daily patronage maximum

2 - 10,000
4 - 25,000
10 - 80,000
20 - 120,000

Passengers per hour (Per Direction)

2,500 
6,000
12,000
20,000         

Stourbridge – Dudley – Walsall is one of the corridors being examined in this strategy.  An assessment of current and forecast passenger demand is expected to inform the business case, and options for bus, metro/tram, and suburban rail are being considered.  Rail freight usage of the route is also being appraised.

Network Rail, in conjunction with rail industry partners and wider stakeholders, is developing a West Midlands and Chiltern Route Utilisation Strategy (RUS), which will supersede the current West Midlands RUS published by the Strategic Rail Authority in 2005.  The new RUS will also consider the likely demand and usage of the Stourbridge – Dudley – Walsall line, informed by regional plans.  A RUS consultation document is expected to be published in summer 2010.

The Government has invested substantially in the rail network in the West Midlands and further investment is committed.  More and faster train services between London and Birmingham were introduced in December 2008, following completion of the West Coast Main Line upgrade.  The fleet of older diesel suburban trains operated by London Midland across the West Midlands area will be replaced by new diesel trains in 2010.  A £600m investment will transform the current 1960s Birmingham New Street station into a bright modern twenty-first century focal point for Birmingham.

The Department for Transport is currently working with the West Midlands train operating companies to agree provision of additional peak capacity into Birmingham by 2014 to meet the growing demand for rail services.

June 22 2009: Centro have put their 'vision for transport facilities beyond 2010' Consultation Document on their website...

June 15 2009: Both Brownhills and Aldridge have made the news headlines tonight as they are 2 of up to 40 stations 'being considered' for re-opening! See the BBC item here: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/8099912.stm

January 19 2009: there's a petition on the No.10 Petitions Website:

http://petitions.number10.gov.uk/empty-rail-lines/ is for re-opening Stourbridge Jn-Wednesbury. DEADLINE was 5 DEC 2009. See the response above!

December 14 2008: the new timetables introduced today see the loss of Walsall-Wolverhampton direct (13 mins) trains and the loss of through trains from Walsall to Stafford via Cannock. If Walsall folk want to go anywhere outsde the region they now have to go to Birmingham New Street, just like they had to do in 1965!

November 2008: a RailTour visited Round Oak - see a photo proving there are still 2 tracks from Stourbridge Junction to Round Oak here: http://paul57.photoblog.co.uk/p54906707.html

November 2008: the speed restrictions at Ryecroft Jn were increased! Cannock line trains can now save some time!

July 2008: We're losing our trains to Wolverhampton later this year (they just made it 10 years). More details on the Walsall-Wolverhampton page.

May 2008: Centro put a letter in the local paper indicating that 'Network Rail were due to make a decision on opening the Walsall-Lichfield route for freight in the near future'.

26 March 2008: The Government has provided funding to trial 'tram trains' up north. If successful they could be employed on the Walsall-Stourbridge section: more details here: http://www2.theiet.org/oncomms/sector/transport/SectionNews/Object/CC23A1A5-AE75-A990-AD7F5C789DB05FD6

Easter 2008: Ryecroft Junction (1/4 mile north of Walsall) has been replaced with a simplified track layout with a better alignment for access to/from the Cannock line.

6 August 2007: Walsall Council has finally put the 'Rail Service and Facilities Improvement Plan' on their website (thanks to Richard Worrall for bringing it to our attention)

View it here: http://www.walsall.gov.uk/index/transport_and_streets/transport_strategies/rail_service___facilities_improvement_plan.htm 

July 2007 - the West Midlands Rail Franchise has been awarded to GOVIA - this company, trading as London Midland, now operate our local trains (in place of Central Trains)!

June 2007 - Network Rail have re-aligned the tracks and the junction under Walsall Tunnel and made it very difficult to reinstate 4 tracks from the station to Ryecroft! I believe the new alignment may permit higher speeds for freight trains through paltforms 1 & 2...

Jan 2007 - full Walsall Council meeting on 15 January is to discuss again the future of the line from Walsall to Lichfield. Again the Parry People Mover option is being quoted ('Walsall Advertiser' 12 Jan 2007). Here's a link to the Parry Motion Document (pdf): http://www2.walsall.gov.uk/CMISWebPublic/Binary.ashx?Document=3938

Dec 2006 - the Midland Metro extension from Wednesbury to Merry Hill is in question again because the estimated costs are now £430M. When first mooted in 1999, the estimated cost was £130M. Centro have stated they have secured £50M of private finance but the costs are increasing by £500,000 per week! The realistic will conclude that there is no way enough private funding will ever be raised (Express & Star 13 Jan 2007).

Nov 2006 - one of the 3 accepted bidders for the new West Midlands Rail Franchise has dropped out (sorry - 'withdrawn their bid')!

The DfT have removed the Walsall-Wolverhampton service from the West Midlands Franchise (from Dec 2007).

Another shock (6 Jan 2006) was that Centro were considering conversion of 'parts of the trackbed' between Walsall and Brownhills into a busway! How this will help is questionable, since buses will still originate in Walsall Bus Station and will have to reach the centres of the community on the way. Such a scheme is certainly not worth sacrificing this important rail route. 

The SRA's 'West Midlands Route Utilisation Strategy' (final version published 21 July 2005) didn't even consider the line or route! The details were on the SRA's site but following the demise of the SRA, it's gone... it was announced that the Strategy would have to be done AGAIN(!) because 'the SRA study neglected to take into consideration the effects of Road Congestion Charging'. This means that a) Congestion Charging IS coming the the West Midlands and b) the government has wasted another load of OUR money! The new Strategy will be decided by the DfT (Department for Transport).

Find the DfT's report here: http://www.dft.gov.uk/?view=Filter&h=m&t=west%20midlands&ts=0&m=4552&pg=1

In 2004, Centro were pushing for a Metro extension along the route from Wednesbury to Merry Hill, urged by a promise of £35M from Merry Hill's owners Westfield (this was revised to £36.5M in July 2006). If this Metro goes ahead, the Strategic Rail Authority have already stated that it will prevent returning the route to 'heavy rail' status for freight and national passenger services - and recommends retaining the route (visit the SRA website above). We cannot, therefore, let this happen! The route MUST be returned to 'heavy rail' status and Merry Hill's owners can spend its £36.5M installing a station on the route near to Merry Hill!

Please help if you can! Time is of the essence!

This site has been created to enable anyone interested in re-opening the railway line (or any part of it!) to access information that is available.

I've also made it as easy as possible to contact your Local Councillors or your Member of Parliament - copy one of the 'letters', go to the 'write!' link, use the 'contact your MP' link - you will find you can e-mail them directly! Please modify the letter to suit your own personal views.

To see some of the BENEFITS of re-opening this railway, see the 'letters' links.

The Government knows our railway network needs more capacity - but are expecting private finance to pay for it (in spite of huge sums of taxpayers money being paid in subsidies - how hypocritical can you get?) - this link to a statement from the Transport Minister: http://www.iee.org/oncomms/sector/transport/SectionNews/Object/FED4BDCA-FFC2-D2E5-CB8922F59FD16AB4

Where is this rail route?

Click here for map! (thanks, Steve, for suggesting the inclusion of a map and thanks to Centro for providing one!)

Brief History of the line

The South Staffordshire Railway was opened in 1849 and linked Wichnor Junction, north of Lichfield, with Dudley, some 18 miles south. It ran through Lichfield, Hammerwich, Brownhills, Pelsall, Rushall, Walsall, Wednesbury, Dudley Port (all these places being provided with stations) and joined the Oxford, Worcester & Wolverhampton Railway at Dudley, below the castle. It was the first railway to serve Walsall's Town Centre. It became the first railway company in the UK (if not the world) to be owned by a private individual. In the 1950's it was possible to use the line to travel on direct trains from Walsall to Dudley, Lichfield, Burton and Derby. The 'Beeching cuts' in 1965 removed all passenger services on the line, except for the Walsall-Birmingham electric trains. The line remained open for freight and diversions until 1983. In about 1985 the tracks were lifted and parts of the route have since been converted to cycle paths. On 26 March 2005, Network Rail offically closed the Lichfield-Anglesea section of the route (only a single track since 1983), though the track remains (December 2005).

Strictly speaking, then, the SSR only ran from Wichnor Junction (north of Lichfield) to Dudley. However, it is part of a stategically-important route to the west of Birmingham and was extensively used until its closure. Just weeks after the decision to close it, it was being regretted - it meant the loss of an invaluable diversion route for trains between Birmingham and Derby, as well as resulting in congestion on the Walsall-Aldridge-Sutton line!

At the time of writing, tracks remain on certain bits of the route. The trackbed is 'mothballed' for 'future possible use'. When the 'Birmingham Northern Relief Road' (M6 toll) was built, a bridge was installed to carry the then disused railway over the road. This railway is far too important to lose for the sake of a Metro line!

Thank you for visiting this site. Please lobby your MP and local Councillors to get this line re-opened - it's one of the ways you can help future generations!

Thanks also to FREEWEBS.COM for providing this web site for FREE!

 counter added on 1st March 2005

This site is maintained by K Ellis. You can send e-mail to ellis_k{at)lineone[dot}net.



more Facts about the line...

Did you know...?

In 1950, the timetable shows it was possible to travel from Walsall to Dudley (6.25 miles) in 18 minutes - with 3 stops on the way.

In 1950, you could travel from Walsall to Aldridge (3.25 miles) in just 7 minutes.

In 1950, Walsall to Brownhills (5.25 miles) was achieved in 14 minutes, with a stop in Pelsall.

In 1950, Walsall to Lichfield (10.5 miles) took 24 minutes with 3 stops.

In 1981, freight trains regularly covered the 10.5 miles from Walsall to Lichfield in just 17 minutes (non-stop).




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