Railways of Shropshire
The English county of Shropshire has a fairly large railway network, with 19 National Rail stations on various national lines, as well as a small number of heritage and freight lines, including the famous heritage Severn Valley Railway running along its eastern border with Worcestershire.
National Rail services
National Rail services in Shropshire are centred about Shrewsbury station (all other 'national rail' stations in Shropshire have a direct train service to Shrewsbury, which is the county town), which is managed by Arriva Trains Wales. The station is at the junction of the Wolverhampton to Shrewsbury Line, Shrewsbury to Chester Line, the Welsh Marches Line (between Cardiff and Manchester) and the Cambrian Line (towards Welshpool). Craven Arms station is at the junction between the Welsh Marches Line and the Heart of Wales Line, although services on the Heart of Wales Line begin at Shrewsbury, rather than Craven Arms itself. There are direct train services from Shrewsbury (and elsewhere in the county) to the cities of Manchester, Birmingham and Cardiff, as well as the port at Holyhead where regular ferries to Dublin depart.
There are no electrified railways, as such, in the county despite the surrounding railway nodes of Crewe, Chester and Wolverhampton all being electrified. (The funicular Bridgnorth Cliff Railway although electrically powered is cable worked). This has meant that since the mid-1990s rail privatisation there has been a reluctance to establish a direct service to London by the cross-country railway companies (previously British Rail ran direct trains from Shrewsbury to London), notably Virgin Trains, who previously ran services to London from the county in 2000. There was a direct service to London Marylebone, provided by the open-access company Wrexham & Shropshire, which operated from 28 April 2008 to 28 January 2011 and used diesel locomotives.
Freight only lines
There are two freight only lines in operation in the Telford area. One is the line from Madeley Junction on the Shrewsbury to Wolverhampton Line to Ironbridge Power Station via the historic industrial area of Coalbrookdale. The other is the newly restored line from Wellington to the Telford International Railfreight Park in Donnington which links the Terminal at Donnington with the Shrewsbury to Wolverhampton Line.
There is also the short Abbey Loop line in Shrewsbury which is generally only used by freight trains.
The Gobowen to Blodwell line, which runs through Oswestry, has been a mothballed line since the 1980s. It previously served a small number of stone quarries in the area. In 2008 the line was bought by the County Council and will likely be used in part by the Cambrian Heritage Railways being set up in the area (by the Cambrian Railways Trust and Society, see Heritage section below) and also as a cycle path from Oswestry to Gobowen.
There are many closed lines in Shropshire, including
- Tenbury and Bewdley Railway which ran from the now-closed Woofferton station on the Shrewsbury to Hereford line and passing briefly through Herefordshire through Tenbury Wells, Cleobury Mortimer, and then into Worcestershire to Bewdley
- Cleobury Mortimer and Ditton Priors Light Railway
- Bishop's Castle Railway was a 191⁄2 mile line running from just north of Craven Arms station to Bishop's Castle
- Severn Valley Railway; although part of the southern section has been restored, the line used to continue north from Bridgnorth to Sutton Bridge Junction in Shrewsbury
- Craven Arms station to Wellington via Much Wenlock and a junction with the Severn Valley Railway at Buildwas. A small section of this line has been reopened as the Telford Steam Railway. There was also a branch via Madeley to Shifnal.
- Shropshire and Montgomeryshire Railway (the 'Potts Railway'), an 18 mile line from Shrewsbury Abbey to Llanymynech with a branch to Criggion
- Minsterley branch line was a 9 mile line from Shrewsbury station to Minsterley, with a further branch to Snailbeach
- Stafford to Wellington line ran from Wellington to Stafford via Newport and Gnosall. Although closed in the 1960s, new track has been restored from east of Wellington to Donnington in 2008. It is hoped the next phase would be to reconnect Newport to the railway network. The line is in the top 36 'Lines that should reopen' listing published by the Campaign for Better Transport.
- Wellington to Nantwich in Cheshire, via Market Drayton, with another line running into Stoke-on-Trent in Staffordshire from Market Drayton
- Oswestry to Newtown, passing through Shropshire
- Oswestry, Ellesmere and Whitchurch Railway, a constituent line of the Cambrian Railways system
- Wrexham and Ellesmere Railway, a constituent line of the Cambrian Railways system which ran for a short distance within Shropshire
- Whitchurch and Tattenhall Railway which ran for a short distance in Shropshire before passing into Cheshire
Many were closed in the 1960s, although the county did not fare too badly under Dr Beeching's massive nationwide railway cuts. The Heart of Wales Line was saved from closure. However, some previously major railway centres in the county, such as Oswestry, Newport and Market Drayton, now have no public railways.
There are three heritage railways in Shropshire: the Severn Valley Railway from Bridgnorth to Kidderminster (in Worcestershire), the Telford Steam Railway at Horsehay, and a restored section of the Cambrian Railways, as being run by Cambrian Heritage Railways between Llynclys and Pant.
Cambrian Heritage Railways have also taken on the former Cambrian Railway Society (CRS) plans to restore part of the Potteries, Shrewsbury & North Wales Railway at Nantmawr for use as a heritage railway. The CHR have a second operating base at Oswestry railway station, with a small collection of locos and rolling stock.
As well as the heritage only lines, the national lines of Shropshire witness a regular number of special charter trains with heritage diesel and steam locomotives and historic carriage stock in operation.
Here are listed the 19 National Rail stations in current use in the county.
|Station||Place||2009/10 usage||2010/11 usage||2011/12 usage||Managed by||Co-ordinates||Line||Distance from Shrewsbury||Platforms||Request stop?||DFT station category|
|Albrighton railway station||Albrighton||77240||79232||104,806||London Midland||Shrewsbury-Wolverhampton||35 km (21¾ miles)||2||No||F2|
|Broome railway station||Broome / Aston on Clun||1622||1642||1,472||Arriva Trains Wales||Heart of Wales||36.5 km (22¾ miles)||1||Yes||F2|
|Bucknell railway station||Bucknell||3798||4288||4,486||Arriva Trains Wales||Heart of Wales||45.5 km (28¼ miles)||1||Yes||F2|
|Church Stretton railway station||Church Stretton||117812||118990||119,274||Arriva Trains Wales||Welsh Marches||20.5 km (12¾ miles)||2||No||F1|
|Cosford railway station||Cosford (alight for DCAE Cosford & Air Museum)||84988||85072||61,378||London Midland||Shrewsbury-Wolverhampton||32.5 km (20¼ miles)||2||No||F2|
|Craven Arms railway station||Craven Arms||95908||98512||100,364||Arriva Trains Wales||Welsh Marches (junction with Heart of Wales)||32 km (20 mi)||2||No||F1|
|Gobowen railway station||Gobowen (bus service to Oswestry)||193032||205442||204,768||Arriva Trains Wales||Shrewsbury-Chester||28.5 km (17¾ miles)||2||No||E|
|Hopton Heath railway station1||Hopton Heath||680||1074||1,554||Arriva Trains Wales||Heart of Wales||41 km (25½ miles)||1||Yes||F2|
|Knighton railway station||Knighton2||23338||25076||25,094||Arriva Trains Wales||Heart of Wales||52.5 km (32½ miles)||2||No||F1|
|Ludlow railway station||Ludlow||270682||288058||292,860||Arriva Trains Wales||Welsh Marches||44 km (27½ miles)||2||No||E|
|Oakengates railway station||Oakengates||37682||41152||52,214||London Midland||Shrewsbury-Wolverhampton||21.5 km (13½ miles)||2||No||F2|
|Prees railway station||near Prees||8362||8614||8,670||Arriva Trains Wales||Welsh Marches||22.5 km (14.0 mi)||2||Yes||F2|
|Shifnal railway station||Shifnal||100716||104222||121,998||London Midland||Shrewsbury-Wolverhampton||28 km (17¼ miles)||2||No||F2|
|Shrewsbury railway station||Shrewsbury||1630474||1676850||1,730,390||Arriva Trains Wales||Junction of several lines||n/a||5||No||C1|
|Telford Central railway station||Telford Town Centre||972162||991916||1,032,584||London Midland||Shrewsbury-Wolverhampton||23 km (14¼ miles)||2||No||C2|
|Wellington (Shropshire) railway station||Wellington||533368||543040||559,684||London Midland||Shrewsbury-Wolverhampton||16 km (9.9 mi)||3||No||E|
|Wem railway station||Wem||103370||105010||100,324||Arriva Trains Wales||Welsh Marches||17 km (10¾ miles)||2||No||F1|
|Whitchurch (Shropshire) railway station||Whitchurch||97122||103946||108,120||Arriva Trains Wales||Welsh Marches||30 km (18¾ miles)||2||No||F1|
|Yorton railway station||Yorton / Clive||8166||8636||9,560||Arriva Trains Wales||Welsh Marches||11.5 km (7¼ miles)||2||Yes||F2|
There are four railway tunnels in use at present in Shropshire:
- Oakengates Tunnel - the longest tunnel in the county, located between Oakengates and Telford Central stations, on the Shrewsbury to Wolverhampton Line
- Ludlow Tunnel - a short tunnel just to the south of Ludlow station, on the Welsh Marches Line
- Heath Hill Tunnel - located between Lawley Common and Horsehay on the Telford Steam Railway, this tunnel was reopened to trains with track relayed through it in early 2009, as part of the heritage railway's northward extension to Lawley
- Knowlesands Tunnel - a very short tunnel on the Severn Valley Railway, located between Bridgnorth and Hampton Loade
A notable disused tunnel exists running beneath High Town of Bridgnorth, which once carried the railway from Bridgnorth station northwards towards the Ironbridge Gorge. The tunnel continues to be maintained and is in good condition. There is the possibility of the Severn Valley Railway extending northwards through the tunnel, with the tunnel's owner BRB (Residuary) Ltd offering the heritage railway first refusal, however there would be substantial difficulties in reinstating the railway beyond the tunnel to the north of Bridgnorth.
- Office for Rail Regulation Station usage figures