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Birmingham rail services receive financial boost ahead of upgrades

todayFebruary 10, 2021

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Plans to give Aldridge its own railway station have moved forward after the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) agreed a £400,000 investment to buy the land needed to build it. The town had its own station for decades but was one of hundreds closed under the controversial ‘Beeching cuts’ of the 1960s. 

Bosses at Transport for West Midlands (TfWM), which is part of the WMCA, want trains to serve Aldridge as part of a more comprehensive upgrade of rail services in the Black Country which is already set to get new stations at Darlaston and Willenhall.

It is now hoped that two trains an hour could run from the new station to Birmingham New Street and Walsall, with an estimated 500,000 passengers using the service annually.

The investment comes after West Midlands Mayor Andy Street asked the West Midlands Rail Executive (WMRE) to draw up a business case for the station to secure the funding needed to take the project to the next stage.

Councillor Mike Bird, WMCA portfolio holder for housing and land and Walsall Council leader, said: “Having its own station is a significant economic boost for any town or suburb and it enables local people to get quickly and efficiently to jobs or education opportunities further afield.

“That will be important in the coming years as we rebuild from the economic impact of Covid-19 and, of course, it will also make it easier for people to travel in a more environmentally friendly way.” 

The land purchase means a key hurdle in the Aldridge scheme can now be cleared, but planning work is already well advanced on Darlaston and Willenhall as well as new stations at Kings Heath, Moseley, and Hazelwell on the Camp Hill line in South Birmingham.

The land being purchased was once used as the approach entrance to the old station and is needed for similar purposes for the new facility.

Detailed designs are still being worked up, but initial plans also include a 150-space car park alongside the platforms.

As well as drawing up the business case, rail bosses are looking to develop a ‘robust timetable’ for Aldridge that will fit into the existing rail network.

Councillor Ian Ward, the WMCA portfolio holder for transport and leader of Birmingham City Council, said: “Reopening Aldridge station would not only reconnect another town to our local rail network; it can also move forward proposals to get the Sutton Park line reopened to passengers. That would benefit other communities, including Walmley and Castle Vale.

We are set to invest hundreds of millions in new stations, Metro tram lines and emission-free buses over the next few years, helping to support our economy and our clean air ambitions.”

In 1923 Aldridge became part of the London, Midland and Scottish Railway before passing to the London Midland Region of British Railways on nationalisation in 1948.

The construction phase of a new station is expected to create dozens of local jobs and once available, additional rail staff will require eight drivers and conductors. 

 

Written by: David Watkins

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