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West Midlands Branch

Operations in the West Midlands Area

July 2018

The West Midlands is at a crossroads on the Railway system with the rebuilt, at least shopping wise but not operationally, Birmingham New Street station with its associated Grand Central shopping complex hosting a variety of express, semi-fast, and local services operated by Virgin Trains, Cross Country, West Midland Trains (operating in two parts under West Midlands Railway and London and North Western Railway banners), and Arriva Trains Wales. WMT Class 350 EMU, under the LNW R banner, of all three sub classes work Birmingham-International-Coventry-Northampton-Euston, Birmingham-Liverpool, and Crewe-Euston via the Trent Valley and Stoke. Walsall-Wolverhampton via New Street sees 323 and 350 EMU whilst Redditch/Bromsgrove-Birmingham-Lichfield (Cross City Line) are normally the preserve of 323 sets all under WMR banner. The electrified extension Longbridge-Bromsgrove commenced on 29th July 2018New Street-Walsall-Rugeley services coming under WMT are usually two or three car Class 170 units, often strengthened by a 153. Virgin Trains Wolverhampton-Birmingham-Euston and Birmingham-Glasgow/Edinburgh produce mixture of Class 390 Pendolino units and Class 221 Super Voyagers often in multiple. Cross Country use Voyagers of Classes 220 and 221 on principal services with limited workings on the North East-South West route operated by HST sets. Cross Country Cardiff-Birmingham-Nottingham and Birmingham-Leicester-Stansted use two or three-car 170 units. The line via Shrewsbury normally sees Class 170 on London Midland duties and Class 158 on Arriva Trains Wales in pairs on services to and from Aberystwyth/Holyhead.

The other main Birmingham stations are at Snow Hill and Moor Street where Chiltern Railways Cass.165 and 168 DMU's are to be seen on the Stourbridge-Snow Hill-Moor Street-Banbury-Marylebone line. Class 170 also appear often in multiple with a 168. Certain Chiltern Main Line services have refurbished Mark III stock with Class 68 haulage. WMT services on the Snow Hill lines are Class 172/2 or 172/3. Three Class 150 are retained at Tyseley for use out of the area on the Bletchley-Bedford branch with one often used on services to Hereford. The two Class 139 Parry People Movers work the short Stourbridge Junction-Stourbridge Town branch. Coventry-Nuneaton and Coventry-Leamington are Class153. The new station at Kenilworth on the Leamington line finally opened on 30th April 2018.

Freight workings in the area produce Classes 60, 66, 67, 70 and 92. The rebuilt Bescot depot stables DBS locomotives. The yards at Wolverhampton Monmore Green Steel Terminal and Round Oak deal with steel traffic, whilst Washwood Heath yards are still used only for wagon storage. The freight terminal at Hams Hall is shunted by a hired 08, Coleshill Parkway being the nearest station. Here GBRf locomotives can be seen in addition to Freightliner and DBS. The concrete depot at Washwood Heath has now closed and is scheduled to move to Bescot making way for the route of HST2. South of Rugby on the Northampton line is Daventry freight terminal (DIRFT) shunted by hired 08’s and a shunter from Wabtec.

  
   68014 and 68015 at Snow Hill Station, Birmingham on 3rd April 2015 shortly after taking over the Chiltern service to London Marylebone   Bob Barby
Moor Street station, restored to GWR style, sees Chiltern Railways and London Midland services. The West Coast Trent Valley main line runs through the area from Stafford to Rugby via Lichfield and is mainly a four track route. Stafford, Tamworth, Nuneaton, and Rugby are all vantage points.

Virgin workings comprise Pendolino units and 221 Super Voyager sets. DB, Freightliner, DRS, and Colas traffic produces Classes 66/0, 66/4, 66/5, 66/6, 66/7, 67, 70, 86, 88, 90, and 92. DB stable locomotives at Bescot with Freightliner laying over at Lawley Street. A DRS 57/3 stables as standby at Rugby as required. Class 08 shunters can be seen at Hams Hall (hired), Round Oak (hired), and DIRFT (hired). The Virgin West Coast Pendolino depot is located at Oxley near Wolverhampton and has its own hired 08. Multiple unit depots are Tyseley (DMU's) and Soho (EMU's) each with their own 08. The Parry People movers stable at Stourbridge Junction in the small shed there. A Colas engineer's depot is located at Rugby in the former LNWR locomotive works with a range of track machines and on occasion stabled locomotives. The former base of Boden Engineering Ltd. at Washwood Heath has now moved to Nottingham and will disappear to make way for HS2. In addition locomotives of Classes 37, 47, 67, and 68 can be seen in the area on Charter traffic. Steam also appears on Charter services and on positioning moves. The Derby based Track recording train has a regular booked diagram in the area using both the HST and locomotive hauled set.

Preservation sites in the West Midlands Branch area comprise the Severn Valley Railway, Battlefield Line at Shakerstone, Standard Gauge Steam Trust at Tyseley, and Chasewater Light Railway. Also near Tamworth is the private Statfold Barn Railway Trust where narrow gauge locomotives, both steam and diesel, are repaired and built. This has an extensive narrow gauge system open for visitors three times a year.

TheMidland Metro runs from Grand Central (outside New Street station) - Wolverhampton St Georges. It uses the former GWR line from Snow Hill-Priestfield with on road use in Wolverhampton and Central Birmingham. Operation is in the hands on CAF units with old unit 16 stabled at Wednesbury depot the rest being stored at Long Marston and understood to have been sold. Their depot is situated adjacent to Wednesbury Great Western Street. Work is in hand on an extension from New Street-Centenary square and from Wolverhampton St George to the main station. Other extensions are in the planning stages.

last updated: 09/10/18