Birmingham Snow Hill to Wolverhampton Low Level Line
The Birmingham Snow Hill to Wolverhampton Low Level Line was part of the Great Western Railway's London Paddington to Birkenhead Woodside route. As the name suggests, it ran between Birmingham Snow Hill and Wolverhampton Low Level in England. The line was dual-gauged, both 7 ft (2,134 mm) and standard gauge.
The line opened in 1854, two months later than planned, following a bridge collapse near Winson Green, which caused chief engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel to order strengthening on several other bridges.
Birmingham Snow Hill to
Wolverhampton Low Level Line
The Birmingham, Wolverhampton and Dudley Railway was authorised on 3 August 1846. It quickly joined forces with the Birmingham and Oxford Junction Railway and both companies were bought by the Great Western on 14 November 1846. Construction began at Birmingham Snow Hill in 1851 and the line opened on 14 November 1854. Stations were: Birmingham Snow Hill - Hockley - Soho & Winson Green - Hawthorns Halt - West Bromwich - Swan Village - Wednesbury Central - Bradley & Moxley - Bilston Central - Priestfield - Wolverhampton Low Level.
This particular stretch of line had many intermediate stations and included a branch to Dudley railway station. Travelling towards Wolverhampton, the branch diverged north of Swan Village railway station, and joined the South Staffordshire Line east of Dudley Port railway station. Trains called at Great Bridge South railway station, Dudley Port railway station and Dudley railway station on the branch.
Despite being featured in the second Beeching Report, The Development of the Major Railway Trunk Routes in February 1965 as being a line the should be further invested in, the line between Birmingham and Wednesbury closed to passengers in 1972. The remaining stations along the route closed with it, but Wolverhampton Low Level remained open until 1981 as a parcels depot.
Passenger services were only suspended and never legally withdrawn by British Rail. The northern section of the railway beyond the scrapyard at Bilston closed in December 1982, and that final section from Wednesbury to Bilston stayed open until August 1992, but by this time plans were afoot for the bulk of the line to be reutilised within a few years as the first line of the Midland Metro tram network.
In 1995, the 'Jewellery Line' saw the relaying of tracks as far as a short distance past The Hawthorns before the line branched off, crossing the Rugby-Birmingham-Stafford Line at the also-new Smethwick Galton Bridge and joining the main Birmingham to Worcester via Kidderminster Line, which previously routed into Birmingham New Street.
The rest of the original GWR line was redeveloped in 1999 as part of the Midland Metro tram scheme. Although the lines leave the original trackbed between Priestfield and Wolverhampton Low Level, most other places that were served before the closure of Snow Hill are now served by the Metro. The Metro runs parallel to the Jewellery Line from Snow Hill to a point north of The Hawthorns.
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