Birmingham Snow Hill to Wolverhampton Low Level Line

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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 14 in (2,140 mm) and 4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge.

The line opened in 1854 and finally closed August 1992. The opening was delayed for two months because a bridge collapsed 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
Wolverhampton Low Level
Priestfield
Oxford–Worcester–
Wolverhampton line
Bilston Central
Bradley and Moxley
Wednesbury Central
Dudley
Dudley Port Low Level
South Staffordshire line
Great Bridge South
Dudley Branch
Swan Village
West Bromwich
Jewellery Line
to Stourbridge and Kidderminster
The Hawthorns
Handsworth and Smethwick
Soho and Winson Green
Hockley
Jewellery Quarter
Birmingham Snow Hill

History[edit]

The Birmingham, Wolverhampton and Dudley Railway was authorised on 3 August 1846.[1] 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.[1] 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.[2]

Dudley Branch[edit]

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.

Closure[edit]

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, all stations on the line between Birmingham and Wolverhampton closed to passengers in 1972.

Wolverhampton Low Level remained open until 1981 as a parcels depot. 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.[3]

Reopening[edit]

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 due to Low Level being closed and eventually partly demolished for use for housing and commercial use. The 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 and makes it the only time the metro is on the same line as heavy rail and it remains side by side with heavy rail from the south of the Hawthorns to Birmingham Snow Hill before it continues on street level into the city centre.

A similar extension which will see heavy rail and light rail run the same line will be the Wednesbury to Brierley Hill Extension via Dudley Port and Dudley which will have a shared metro and heavy rail line mostly freight.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Hendry, R. Preston; Hendry, R. Powell (1992). Paddington to the Mersey. Oxford Publishing Company. p. 8. ISBN 9780860934424. OCLC 877729237.
  2. ^ "Great Western Railway". Historywebsite.co.uk. Retrieved 2013-09-06.
  3. ^ Johnston, Howard (21 March – 3 April 2012). "Regional News: Wolverhampton". Rail (692): 24.

External links[edit]