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)
Number 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
Lichfield Trent Valley
for West Coast Main Line
Lichfield CityParking
UK-Motorway-M6 Toll.svg
Anglesey Sidings freight terminal
South Staffordshire Line
to Walsall
Limit of TfWM area
Blake StreetFree car parking
Butlers Lane
Four OaksFree car parking
Sutton Park Line
Sutton Coldfield tunnel
Sutton ColdfieldParking
Wylde GreenFree car parking
Chester RoadFree car parking
Gravelly Hill
UK-Motorway-M6.svgSpaghetti 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
Birmingham New Street Midland MetroParking
Rugby–Birmingham–Stafford Line
to Wolverhampton
Central Goods
Granville Street
Five Ways
Church Road
Church Road Tunnel
Somerset Road
Selly OakFree car parking
Camp Hill Line
Kings NortonFree car parking
NorthfieldFree car parking
LongbridgeFree car parking
former line to Halesowen
Limit of TfWM area
Barnt GreenParking
Gloucester Loop Line
Lickey Incline
Bromsgrove(from 2018)
Birmingham to Worcester
via Bromsgrove Line/
Cross Country Route
Free car parking  Centro free car parking
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.

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]

What is now the Cross-City Line was not built as a single route; it is a combination of lines opened by different companies at different times, between 1837 and 1885.[1]

On the northern half of the route (Birmingham-Lichfield):

On the southern half of the route (Birmingham-Redditch):

These lines from Birmingham to Barnt Green and Redditch 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.

Prior to the creation of the Cross-City Line, the northern half of the route from New Street to Sutton Coldfield and Lichfield had a well used regular suburban service, which had been fully dieselised in 1956. However, the southern half of the route from New Street to Redditch suffered from a lack of stations, and had a sparse local service which operated at peak hours only.[1]

Diagrammatic map of Cross-City Line, including Bromsgrove which will be added as a second southern terminus in 2018.

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 need for a cross-city rail service, and especially an improved service to the south of Birmingham with new stations, had been recognised in the WMPTE Passenger Transport Plan of 1972.[8]

The Cross City Line project was sanctioned in May 1975 and launched on 8 May 1978. Costing £7.4 million (equivalent to £55,980,000 in 2015).[9] It involved joining the services into Birmingham from north and south into a single through service, 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 former station at Longbridge was on the branch line to Halesowen and Old Hill) Most of the other stations on the southern half of the route were rebuilt at the same time, and improvements were made to signalling and junctions. 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.[10][8]

Services initially ran on a 15-minute frequency between Longbridge and Four Oaks via Birmingham New Street, with an hourly extension to Lichfield City, using refurbished Class 116 Diesel Multiple Units. The new service was an instant success, and by the end of the first year was carrying 30,000 passengers daily. Services were extended to Redditch in 1980, initially on an hourly frequency, increased to half-hourly in 1989. The service to Lichfield City was increased to half hourly in 1986, and on 28 November 1988, some services were extended to terminate at the re-opened high level platforms of Lichfield Trent Valley.[11][10][12]


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.[13][10]

Work started on electrifying the route with the 25 kV AC overhead line system in May 1990, and it was completed on 6 June 1993. Redditch, Alvechurch, and Blake Street stations were rebuilt at this time, and several other stations including Barnt Green were extensively modified to accommodate the new longer electric trains. The signalling was also modernised at the same time as the electrification, as part of a parallel scheme. 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 initial reliability 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. [13][10]

The cost of the electrification scheme was estimated at £64.5 million (equivalent to £118,490,000 in 2015).[9] Of which around 70% was funded by Centro, and the remainder by the Regional Railways sector of British Rail.[13]

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.[14][15] 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.[16][17]

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.[18][15] and the electrification work is expected to be completed by September 2017.[19][20] Electric services are expected to start in May 2018.[20]

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.[21]

Current services[edit]

During Monday to Saturday daytimes, on the core section of the line between Four Oaks and Longbridge, six trains per-hour operate each way, giving a ten-minute frequency of service. Of these, 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.[22]

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[23] (effectively a loop between Birmingham New Street and King's Norton).

Passenger volume[edit]

In 2014/15 the Cross-City Line's 24 stations had combined passenger numbers of 19.95 million,[24] a substantial increase on the 2006 figure of 8.5 million.[25] The busiest station on the route besides Birmingham New Street is University, with nearly three million passenger entries and exits, and the least busy station is Alvechurch with around 145,000 passenger entries and exits.

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 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[26]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Boynton 1993.
  2. ^ Webster, Norman W. (1972). Britain's First Trunk Line – the Grand Junction Railway. Bath: Adams & Dart. ISBN 0-239-00105-2. 
  3. ^ 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. 
  4. ^ Boynton 1993, pp. 65-67.
  5. ^ Boynton 1993, pp. 14-17.
  6. ^ Boynton 1993, pp. 18-20.
  7. ^ Boynton 1993, pp. 21-25.
  8. ^ a b Boynton 1993, pp. 86-88.
  9. ^ a b UK Consumer Price Index inflation figures are based on data from Gregory Clark (2016), "The Annual RPI and Average Earnings for Britain, 1209 to Present (New Series)",
  10. ^ a b c d "The Cross City Rail Line". Redditch MRC. Retrieved 14 September 2013. 
  11. ^ Boynton 1993, pp. 89-90.
  12. ^ "The South Staffordshire Line". Retrieved 14 September 2013. 
  13. ^ a b c Boynton 1993, pp. 92-104.
  14. ^ "Major transport infrastructure schemes given green light". Planning Resource. Retrieved 22 November 2013. 
  15. ^ a b "Investing in the Midlands, December 2011". Rail Professional Magazine. Retrieved 22 November 2013. 
  16. ^ Connie Osborne (1 September 2014). "Commuters back on track with railway opening". Bromsgrove Standard. Retrieved 19 February 2017. 
  17. ^ "London Midland reveals new timetable and additional seating across network". Birmingham Mail. Retrieved 17 December 2014. 
  18. ^ "£1.2 billion boost for English rail and metro services". Railnews. 2009-08-04. Retrieved 2010-12-19. 
  19. ^ "NATIONAL INFRASTRUCTURE". Worcestershire Regulatory Services. Retrieved 15 May 2016. 
  20. ^ a b "Bromsgrove Corridor Resignalling". Rail Engineer. 17 January 2017. Retrieved 14 February 2017. 
  21. ^ "Order for New "Desiro" Trains Signed by Transpennine Express". 2 March 2012. Retrieved 15 July 2014. 
  22. ^ "West Midlands and Chilterns Route Utilisation Strategy 2011" (PDF). Network Rail. Retrieved 13 September 2013. 
  23. ^ "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. 
  24. ^ "Station usage estimates". Rail statistics. Office of Rail Regulation.  Please note: Some methodology may vary year on year.
  25. ^ "Cops on track to celebrate". Birmingham Mail (8 Feb 2008). Retrieved 9 June 2013. 
  26. ^ - [Birmingham Cross-City South (Downloads)]


  • Boynton, John (1993). Rails Across The City, The Story of The Birmingham Cross City Line. Kidderminster: Mid England Books. ISBN 0-9522248-0-1. 

External links[edit]