Class 323 Cross City train arrives at Birmingham New Street.
|Type||Heavy rail, Suburban rail|
|Termini||Lichfield Trent Valley
|Rolling stock||Class 323|
|Line length||32 miles (51 km)|
|No. of tracks||One - Two|
|Track gauge||1,435 mm (4 ft 8 1⁄2 in) standard gauge|
|Electrification||25 kV AC OHLE|
The Cross-City Line is a suburban railway line in the West Midlands region of England. It runs 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. The 32 mile (51 km) long route, is the busiest commuter line outside London, in 2007 it carried 8.5 million passengers.
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. This was extended towards the centre of Birmingham, at Curzon Street, the following year, and into Birmingham New Street in 1854. The line from Aston to Sutton Coldfield was opened in 1862, 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. 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 in 1876.
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.
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.
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. On 28 November 1988, services were extended to terminate at the high level platforms of Lichfield Trent Valley.
The route was electrified using the 25 kV AC overhead line system between 1991 and 6 June 1993. The decision to electrify 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. 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.
Recent developments, and ongoing works
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. 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.
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. Work began on rebuilding Bromsgrove station in March 2014, and the electrification work is expected to be completed by the summer of 2016.
Three of the ten new Class 350 trains that London Midland have ordered will run on the Cross City line to increase the capacity of the line once the increased Redditch and Bromsgrove service starts, however being 4 carriages long they cannot run in multiple as some stations (for example Bournville) can only cater for 6-car trains maximum.
For many years, passenger services on the line were worked by elderly Class 108, 115, 116, 117, 118 and 121 diesel multiple units. By the early 1990s these units were becoming increasingly unreliable, and new Class 323 electrical multiple units were ordered for the electrification of the route. By 1995 the last of the old trains had been withdrawn.
Current daytime service levels are:
- of which three Southbound trains continue to Redditch
- of which four Northbound trains continue to Lichfield City:
- of which two continue to Lichfield Trent Valley
- A limited service operates between Four Oaks and Wolverhampton calling at all stations en route.
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.
- Lichfield, Trent Valley - on the outskirts of Lichfield, with connections to London Midland services along the Trent Valley line between London Euston and Crewe
- Lichfield City railway station - in central Lichfield
- Shenstone railway station in Shenstone, Staffordshire
- Blake Street railway station in Hill Hook, Sutton Coldfield
- Butlers Lane railway station in northern Four Oaks
- Four Oaks railway station in Four Oaks, Sutton Coldfield
- Sutton Coldfield railway station in Sutton Coldfield
- Wylde Green railway station serving Wylde Green and Boldmere
- Chester Road railway station serving Pype Hayes and northern Erdington
- Erdington railway station in Erdington
- Gravelly Hill railway station in Gravelly Hill
- Aston railway station in Aston - the Walsall Line diverges here
- Duddeston railway station in Duddeston
- Birmingham New Street railway station in Birmingham City Centre
- Five Ways railway station in Five Ways, Birmingham
- University of Birmingham in the University of Birmingham
- Selly Oak railway station in Selly Oak
- Bournville railway station in Bournville
- Kings Norton railway station in Kings Norton and Cotteridge
- Northfield railway station in Northfield, Birmingham
- Longbridge railway station in Longbridge
- Barnt Green railway station in Barnt Green - branches off the main line to Cheltenham here.
- Alvechurch railway station in Alvechurch
- Redditch railway station in Redditch
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
- "Cops on track to celebrate". Birmingham Mail (8 Feb 2008). Retrieved 9 June 2013.
- Webster, Norman W. (1972). Britain's First Trunk Line – the Grand Junction Railway. Bath: Adams & Dart. ISBN 0-239-00105-2.
- 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.
- "The Cross City Rail Line". Redditch MRC. Retrieved 14 September 2013.
- "The South Staffordshire Line". southstaffsrail.co.uk. Retrieved 14 September 2013.
- "Major transport infrastructure schemes given green light". Planning Resource. Retrieved 22 November 2013.
- "Investing in the Midlands, December 2011". Rail Professional Magazine. Retrieved 22 November 2013.
- Connie Osborne (1 September 2014). "Commuters back on track with railway opening". Redditch Standard. Retrieved 7 October 2014.
- "London Midland reveals new timetable and additional seating across network". birminghammail.co.uk. Birmingham Mail. Retrieved 17 December 2014.
- "£1.2 billion boost for English rail and metro services". Railnews. 2009-08-04. Retrieved 2010-12-19.
- "Investing in the Midlands". Rail professional. Retrieved 25 Sep 2013.
- "Work starts on new £17.4 million Bromsgrove railway station". centro.org.uk. Centro. Retrieved 17 December 2014.
- "Order for New "Desiro" Trains Signed by Transpennine Express". http://www.rail.co.uk/. 2 March 2012. Retrieved 15 July 2014.
- "West Midlands and Chilterns Route Utilisation Strategy 2011" (PDF). Network Rail. Retrieved 13 September 2013.
- "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.
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