Operations in the West Midlands Area

as at August 2019

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. It hosts 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 and WMR banner, of all three sub classes work Euston-Birmingham-Liverpool/Crewe/Rugeley Trent Valley services many dividing/uniting at New Street. Walsall-Wolverhampton via New Street also sees 350 EMU whilst Redditch/Bromsgrove-Birmingham-Lichfield (Cross City Line) is the preserve of 323 sets all under WMR banner. Virgin Trains Euston- Birmingham-Wolverhampton and Euston-Birmingham-Glasgow/Edinburgh are operated by 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 some workings on the North East-South West axis see 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 WMR and with Class 158 on Arriva Trains Wales often 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. A Class 150 is still retained as spare and used on the Hereford route. The two Class 139 Parry People Movers work the short Stourbridge Junction-Stourbridge Town branch. Leamington-Coventry-Nuneaton is operated by Clas170/2 with 170/3 used when events are on at Coventry Arena and Sundays when the route is still worked as two sections.

Freight workings in the area produce Classes 56, 60, 66, 70, 88 and 92. Bescot depot stables locomotives but in reduced numbers. The yard at Round Oak uses a hired Class 08, whilst Washwood Heath yards are used for wagon storage. The freight terminal at Hams Hall is shunted by a hired in 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 is now closed to make way for the route of HST2. Work on HST2 can be noted a Curzon Street former parcels depot site. South of Rugby on the Northampton line is Daventry freight terminal (DIRFT) shunted by hired 08’s and others hired locomotives. Class 88 now work the Mossend-Daventry freights.

Moor Street station, restored to GWR style, sees Chiltern Railways and WMR. 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, 70, 86, 88, 90, and 92. Locomotives stable at Bescot and also lay 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). 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. 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.Vintage Trains have their depot at Tyseley and run scheduled steam workings and charters. The Derby based Track recording train has a regular booked diagram in the area using both the HST and locomotive hauled set and on occasion stables at Tyseley.

Preservation sites in the West Midlands Branch area comprise the Severn Valley Railway, Battlefield Line at Shakerstone, Tyseley Locomotive Works/Vintage Trains at Tyseley, and Chasewater Light Railway. Also near Tamworth is the private Statfold Narrow Gauge Museum Trust where narrow gauge locomotives, both steam and diesel, are repaired and built. This has an extensive narrow gauge system now open for visitors at times during the year. The Midland Metro, part of WMT, 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 which are being converted to off the overhead and on battery over certain sections. 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: 21st September 2019