Cross-City Line

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Cross-City Line
323202 arriving at Birminghams New Street station.jpg
Class 323 Cross City train arrives at Birmingham New Street.
Type Heavy rail, Suburban rail
System National Rail
Status Operational
Locale West Midlands
Termini Lichfield Trent Valley
Stations 24
Opened 1978
Owner Network Rail
Operator(s) London Midland
Rolling stock Class 323
Line length 32 miles (51 km)
No. of tracks One - Two
Track gauge 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in) standard gauge
Electrification 25 kV AC OHLE
Cross-City Line
Freight Line to Burton upon Trent
Car parking
Lichfield Trent Valley
for West Coast Main Line
Car parking Lichfield City
UK-Motorway-M6 Toll.svg
Anglesey Sidings freight terminal
South Staffordshire Line
to Walsall
Car parking Shenstone
Limit of Centro operated area
Free car parking Blake Street
Butlers Lane
Free car parking Four Oaks
Sutton Park Line
Sutton Coldfield tunnel
Car parking Sutton Coldfield
Free car parking Wylde Green
Free car parking Chester Road
Gravelly Hill
UK-Motorway-M6.svg ('Spaghetti Junction')
Chase Line to Walsall
to Birmingham International
Windsor Street Goods
Cross Country Route and
Birmingham to Peterborough Line
Rugby–Birmingham–Stafford Line
to Birmingham International
Camp Hill Line
Curzon Street
Car parking Birmingham New Street
Rugby–Birmingham–Stafford Line
to Wolverhampton
Central Goods
Granville Street
Five Ways
Church Road
Church Road Tunnel
Somerset Road
Free car parking Selly Oak
Camp Hill Line
Free car parking Kings Norton
Free car parking Northfield
Free car parking Longbridge
former line to Halesowen
Limit of Centro operated area
Car parking Barnt Green
Car parking Alvechurch
Gloucester Loop Line
Lickey Incline
Bromsgrove(from 2016)
Birmingham to Worcester
via Bromsgrove Line/
Cross Country Route
Free car parking Centro free car parking
Car parking Other car parking

The Cross-City Line is a suburban railway line in the West Midlands region of England. It runs for 32 miles (51 km) from Redditch, Worcestershire, its southern terminus, to Lichfield, Staffordshire, its northern terminus, via Birmingham New Street, connecting the suburbs of Birmingham in between. Services are operated by London Midland. In 2013/14 the line's 24 stations had combined passenger numbers of 18.6 million,[1] a substantial increase on the 2007 figure of 8.5 million.[2]

Cross-City Line services began in 1978, as a project of the West Midlands Passenger Transport Executive (WMPTE) to improve local rail services. It made use of pre-existing railways lines, which previously did not have any through services. Services were extended to Redditch in 1980, and to Lichfield Trent Valley in 1988. The route was electrified in 1993. Currently work is under way to extend services to Bromsgrove, which will be added as a second southern terminus.


Constituent railways[edit]

The Cross-City Line was not built as a single route; it is a combination of lines opened at different times.

The oldest section is between Duddeston (originally named Vauxhall) and Aston, which was part of the Grand Junction Railway from Birmingham to Earlestown, opened in 1837.[3] This was extended towards the centre of Birmingham, at Curzon Street, the following year, and into Birmingham New Street in 1854.[4] The line from Aston to Sutton Coldfield was opened in 1862,[4] and extended to Lichfield City in 1884, where it connected with the South Staffordshire Line between Walsall and Lichfield Trent Valley, which had opened in 1849.

On the south side of the city, the Birmingham and Gloucester Railway had opened in 1841, linking to Curzon Street via the Camp Hill Line.[4] The branch line from Barnt Green to Redditch followed in 1859. The Birmingham West Suburban Railway, taking the route of the Cross-City Line between Kings Norton and Birmingham New Street, opened between 1876 and 1885.[4]

These lines from Birmingham to Barnt Green were operated by the Midland Railway and the line to Lichfield was operated by the London and North Western Railway, so there were no through services. This continued despite the Grouping of the LNW and Midland Railways to form the London Midland and Scottish Railway in 1921, and subsequent nationalisation to form British Railways.

Diagramatic map of Cross-City Line

Consolidated route[edit]

The Cross City line in its modern form came into existence in 1978, as a project of the West Midlands Passenger Transport Executive (WMPTE) The £7.4 million Cross City line project was sanctioned in May 1975 and launched on 8 May 1978. It involved consolidating the services into Birmingham from north and south into a single through service, and the re-opening of Five Ways station (the original had closed in the 1940s), and new stations to serve the University of Birmingham and Longbridge (the original station at Longbridge was on the branch line to Halesowen and Old Hill) several of the other stations were rebuilt at the same time. Of the new stations, the only one to be officially opened was University, which the then Secretary of State for Transport William Rodgers MP formally opened on 8 May 1978. There is a plaque on platform 2 marking this occasion.[5]

Services initially ran on a 15-minute frequency between Longbridge and Four Oaks via Birmingham New Street, with some services extended to Lichfield City, using refurbished Class 116 Diesel Multiple Units. Services were extended to Redditch in 1980, initially on an hourly frequency, but the service proved popular, and was eventually increased to half hourly.[5] On 28 November 1988, services were extended to terminate at the high level platforms of Lichfield Trent Valley.[6]


By the late-1980s, the elderly diesels operating the service were becoming increasingly unreliable, and the WMPTE (now re-branded as Centro) pressed for electrification. The decision to electrify the line was made on 7 February 1990 by the then Transport Minister Cecil Parkinson during the campaign for a by-election in the Mid Staffordshire constituency.[5]

Work started on electrifying the route with the 25 kV AC overhead line system in May 1991, and it was completed on 6 June 1993. Redditch, Alvechurch, Aston and Blake Street stations were rebuilt at this time. A number of other stations including Barnt Green were extensively modified to accommodate the new longer electric trains. A new fleet of Class 323 Electric Multiple Units were introduced to work the electrified line, and replace the elderly diesels. Full service with the Class 323s did not begin until 1994, due to problems with the new units. Some elderly Class 304, Class 308 and Class 310 EMUs were drafted in to operate services in the interim, along with some of the original diesel units.[5]

Recent developments, and ongoing works[edit]

The single track between Barnt Green and Redditch, restricted the number of trains that could run to Redditch to two per hour. In November 2013 a scheme was approved to construct a new passing loop at Alvechurch to allow the service to be increased to three trains per hour.[7][8] The line between Barnt Green and Redditch was closed for eight weeks for the works to be carried out, and was reopened on 1 September 2014. The improved service began in December 2014.[9][10]

Electrification will also be extended from Barnt Green to a rebuilt Bromsgrove station, which will be added as a second southern terminus. These changes will allow three trains per hour to run to both Redditch and Bromsgrove.[11][12] Work began on rebuilding Bromsgrove station in March 2014, and the electrification work is expected to be completed by the summer of 2016.[13]

Three of the ten new Class 350 trains that London Midland introduced in 2014 have displaced class 323s on other routes in the West Midlands to enable an increase in frequency between Longbridge and Redditch, and the extension of all remaining Longbridge trains to Bromsgrove once electrification is complete. Class 350s are not currently authorised to be used on the Cross City line. [14]


During weekdays and Saturdays, six trains per hour operate on the core section of the line between Four Oaks and Longbridge via Birmingham New Street, giving a ten-minute frequency of service. Four northbound trains per hour continue from Four Oaks to Lichfield City, and two of these continue to Lichfield Trent Valley. Southbound three trains per hour continue from Longbridge to Redditch.[15]

In detail the service consists of:

  • 2tph from Lichfield Trent Valley to Longbridge (1tph) or continuing to Redditch (1tph) - This service also calls at Shenstone which other services pass through
  • 2tph from Lichfield City to Longbridge (1tph) or continuing to Redditch (1tph)
  • 2tph from Four Oaks to Longbridge (1tph) or continuing to Redditch (1tph) - This service also calls at Duddeston which other services pass through

On Sundays a half-hourly service operates between Redditch and Lichfield Trent Valley.

The southern half of the Cross-City line also forms part of the Cross Country Route, and some longer distance services stop at University station, including CrossCountry trains to Cardiff and London Midland service to Hereford.


There are long-standing proposals for the re-introduction of local trains on the Camp Hill Line[16] (effectively a loop between Birmingham New Street and King's Norton).

Route description[edit]

The railway stations and cities, towns and villages served by the line are listed below.

A large stretch of the northern part of the line closely follows the A5127 road.


  • In 1990, Railscene produced a driver's eye view of the then-diesel line, featuring the elderly rolling stock still in operation. Many features of the line have since been changed, for example, the rebuilding of Alvechurch and Redditch stations, the abolition of Lichfield City's goods sidings and closure of the Brownhills Line and the removal of the fourth platform of Lichfield Trent Valley.
  • There was a highly publicised opening ceremony to celebrate the electrification and service enhancement at Redditch in 1993.
  • In 1995, Video 125 released a video of a driver's eye view of the recently electrified line, narrated by Kay Alexander. It is interesting to note on the video near Lichfield the use of an elderly Class 310 unit on the opposite direction service - this was due to not all 323 units being in traffic in time for the new services starting.
  • There is a highly detailed reproduction of the Cross City Line available on Microsoft Train Simulator (MSTS)
  • There is a highly detailed reproduction of the part between Redditch and Birmingham New Street for the free train simulators BVE and OpenBVE[17]


  1. ^ "Station usage estimates". Rail statistics. Office of Rail Regulation.  Please note: Some methodology may vary year on year.
  2. ^ "Cops on track to celebrate". Birmingham Mail (8 Feb 2008). Retrieved 9 June 2013. 
  3. ^ Webster, Norman W. (1972). Britain's First Trunk Line – the Grand Junction Railway. Bath: Adams & Dart. ISBN 0-239-00105-2. 
  4. ^ a b c d Jowett, Alan (1993). Jowett's Atlas of Railway Centres: of Great Britain showing their development from the earliest times up to and including the 1990s - Volume 1 (1st ed.). Sparkford: Patrick Stephens Ltd. pp. 133–148. ISBN 1-8526-0420-4. OCLC 30919645. 
  5. ^ a b c d "The Cross City Rail Line". Redditch MRC. Retrieved 14 September 2013. 
  6. ^ "The South Staffordshire Line". Retrieved 14 September 2013. 
  7. ^ "Major transport infrastructure schemes given green light". Planning Resource. Retrieved 22 November 2013. 
  8. ^ "Investing in the Midlands, December 2011". Rail Professional Magazine. Retrieved 22 November 2013. 
  9. ^ Connie Osborne (1 September 2014). "Commuters back on track with railway opening". Redditch Standard. Retrieved 7 October 2014. 
  10. ^ "London Midland reveals new timetable and additional seating across network". Birmingham Mail. Retrieved 17 December 2014. 
  11. ^ "£1.2 billion boost for English rail and metro services". Railnews. 2009-08-04. Retrieved 2010-12-19. 
  12. ^ "Investing in the Midlands". Rail professional. Retrieved 25 Sep 2013. 
  13. ^ "Work starts on new £17.4 million Bromsgrove railway station". Centro. Retrieved 17 December 2014. 
  14. ^ "Order for New "Desiro" Trains Signed by Transpennine Express". 2 March 2012. Retrieved 15 July 2014.  External link in |publisher= (help)
  15. ^ "West Midlands and Chilterns Route Utilisation Strategy 2011" (PDF). Network Rail. Retrieved 13 September 2013. 
  16. ^ "Reinstatement of Camp Hill Rail Services Moves A Step Closer". Birmingham City Council. 2007-07-13. Archived from the original on 2008-01-11. Retrieved 2008-02-04. 
  17. ^

External links[edit]