Birmingham to Worcester via Kidderminster Line
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The Birmingham to Worcester via Kidderminster Line is a suburban railway line from Birmingham Snow Hill to Worcester via Stourbridge and Kidderminster. It is one of the Snow Hill Lines, with trains operated by London Midland and Chiltern Railways using Class 172 and Class 168 diesel units. It is a future aspiration of Chiltern Railways and Network Rail to electrify the entire line, including the Chiltern Main Line to London Marylebone.
The line is one of two railway routes between Birmingham and Worcester, the other route runs via Bromsgrove.
The line between Worcester and Stourbridge Junction was opened as part of the Oxford, Worcester and Wolverhampton Railway (OWWR), in 1852. The line between Stourbridge Junction and Birmingham Snow Hill was built by the Stourbridge Railway, and the Great Western Railway (GWR), and opened in 1867. By 1870, the entire route had come under the control of the GWR, later passing to British Railways in 1948.
In the late 1960s, services to Snow Hill were run down. In 1967 most services on the line were diverted to Birmingham New Street, running via Galton Junction. However a skeleton service of four trains per day, was retained between Snow Hill and Langley Green until March 1972, when Snow Hill station, along with the line to Smethwick West was closed to passengers. Although a single line as far as Handsworth was kept open for freight traffic (cement & scrap metals).
Jewellery Line project
Snow Hill station was reopened in 1987. In September 1995, as part of the project to restore services through Snow Hill, the 4 miles (6 km) of line between Smethwick and Snow Hill were reopened as the "Jewellery Line".
Three new stations were opened on the restored route: Smethwick Galton Bridge, The Hawthorns and Jewellery Quarter. Smethwick Galton Bridge station was built as an interchange with trains on the Birmingham New Street-Wolverhampton Line, and it replaced the nearby Smethwick West station which closed soon after.
The reopening allowed cross-city rail services to operate through Snow Hill, and freed up much needed capacity at New Street station. According to Centro, it created "a third cross city line linking the lines to Worcester and Hereford with those to Stratford-upon-Avon and Leamington Spa".
The line serves the following places:
- Birmingham Snow Hill - Colmore Row, City Centre and a short walk to New Street and a direct rail link to Moor Street
- Jewellery Quarter — Hockley, Birmingham
- The Hawthorns — Halfords Lane, Smethwick for the West Bromwich Albion Football Club & Midland Metro
- Galton Bridge - Higher Level Station. Local services to Birmingham New Street
- Langley Green - Langley Green, Oldbury
- Rowley Regis — Blackheath Town Centre and Park & Ride
- Old Hill
- Cradley Heath — bus link to the Merry Hill Shopping Centre
- Stourbridge — Junction station for the Town Branch
- Kidderminster — for Severn Valley Steam Railway
- Hartlebury - Limited Service
- Droitwich Spa
- Worcester — Foregate Street/Shrub Hill
The local service provided by London Midland comprises:
- Six trains per hour from Birmingham to Stourbridge Junction;
- of which four continue to Kidderminster
- of which two continue to Worcester
All local services continue beyond Birmingham to either Dorridge, Whitlocks End or Stratford-upon-Avon, with some peak hour trains running to Leamington Spa. A triangular junction at Worcester allows a variety of service patterns (see map). Some trains terminate at Shrub Hill, whereas some reverse there before going to Foregate Street. Other trains take the direct curve to Foregate Street avoiding Shrub Hill. Some trains continue beyond Foregate Street to Malvern Link and Great Malvern.
Before the reopening of Snow Hill, trains along this route ran into Birmingham New Street, where they terminated. Even after the Snow Hill reopening a lower level of service to New Street was maintained, but this link was axed altogether at the May 2004 timetable change, to much local consternation. Now passengers have to struggle with luggage across Birmingham City centre, or change at Smethwick Galton Bridge. This did however add much needed extra capacity to the Stour Valley Line into Birmingham New Street and free up platform space there. This service took the connection between Galton and Smethwick Junctions near Smethwick West. Services were once hourly from Worcester to Birmingham New Street via Stourbridge.
Two CrossCountry services are timetabled to use the line each day — one service from Birmingham New Street (via Smethwick Junction and Galton Junction) in the early morning and a reverse service in the evening. Neither of these call at any of the stations along the line and are scheduled to ensure drivers retain knowledge of the route. During congestion or mainly during engineering works, the line sees much more frequent service as a diversionary route. The line from Worcester Shrub Hill continues to Cheltenham Spa railway station, which is the next calling point for most Cross Country services, and thus offers a convenient alternative when the Lickey Incline is closed.
Several charter trains can often be seen on the line due to the existence of the Severn Valley Railway at Kidderminster, which has a mainline connection.
- Draft Electrifications RUS Response - Chiltern RailwaysNetwork Rail
- "Stourbridge Railway". John Speller's Web Pages. Retrieved 29 June 2013.
- "Historic timetables". Stourbridge Line User's Group. Retrieved 29 June 2013.
- Boynton, John (2001). Main Line to Metro: Train and tram on the Great Western route: Birmingham Snow Hill – Wolverhampton. Kidderminster: Mid England Books. ISBN 978-0-9522248-9-1.
- "Smethwick Galton Bridge Station 1995 - Present". Rail Around Birmingham and the West Midlands. Retrieved 4 Sep 2015.
- "Jewellery Line Reopening". Stourbridge Line User Group. Retrieved 7 September 2015.
- "Jewellery Quarter Station 1995 - Present". Rail Around Birmingham and the West Midlands. Retrieved 28 Oct 2013.
- GB National Rail Timetable 2013-14, Table 71
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