Walsall to Wolverhampton Line
Diagram of the line (in green) in relation to the other railways in the area.
West Midlands (region)
|Track gauge||1,435 mm (4 ft 8 1⁄2 in) standard gauge|
The Walsall to Wolverhampton Line is a railway line in the West Midlands, England. It connects the town of Walsall to the city of Wolverhampton. For most of its length, it follows the part of the route of the original Grand Junction Railway. The line does not currently have any scheduled passenger services, although it has had in the past. At present, the main use of the line is by freight trains avoiding Birmingham New Street. It is also used as a diversionary route when engineering works are carried out on the West Coast Main Line.
Services and history
The line currently has no regular passenger services, although a local service did operate between 1998 and 2008. This service, which was funded by Centro and operated by London Midland, operated hourly. These were reintroduced to the line on 24 May 1998, having previously ceased as part of the Beeching Axe in 1965. However, the Strategic Rail Authority's West Coast Main Line Route Utilisation Strategy proposed the withdrawal of the service in December 2006. Centro opposed this, and the service continued. There were also proposals to reopen the stations at Willenhall Bilston Street and Portobello to increase passenger numbers and the viability of the service. During the early - mid 2000s, the line was used as part of an hourly service between Walsall and Wellington. But these services were withdrawn in 2006 and the service was reduced to an hourly service between Walsall and Wolverhampton, with only one or two trains per day in each direction extending to Wellington in the early morning and late at night.
It was announced in July 2008 that the government was withdrawing funding for this service, and as a result the route was closed to passengers as of December 2008. However the line remains open for freight trains, and will also be used as a diversionary route when the West Coast Mainline is closed for engineering works. Between 2008–2011 the line was also used by the now defunct Wrexham & Shropshire passenger services to London.
The full service was withdrawn on 13 December 2008, although there is still a 'Parliamentary train' – initially, one train per day ran directly from Walsall to Wolverhampton on weekdays, leaving Walsall at 19:36, but this was replaced in the 19 May 2013 timetable by a Saturdays-only train in the opposite direction that leaves Wolverhampton at 06:38.
A service calling at all stations via Birmingham New street now operates, taking over 1 hour, compared with 12 minutes for the direct service, and London Midland advise passengers to use the 529 bus service instead.
- "Fight to save under threat rail service". Walsall Observer. 2008-07-11. Retrieved 2008-07-16.
- Walsall Transport strategy
- London Midland website
- BBC Black Country: Have your say on the rail line closure