Walsall railway station

52°35′02″N 1°59′06″W / 52.5840°N 1.9851°W / 52.5840; -1.9851

Walsall
National Rail
Walsall station in 2019.
General information
LocationWalsall, Metropolitan Borough of Walsall
England
Grid referenceSP010984
Managed byWest Midlands Railway
Transit authorityTransport for West Midlands
Platforms3
Other information
Station codeWSL
Fare zone4
ClassificationDfT category D
History
Original companySouth Staffordshire Railway
Pre-groupingLondon and North Western Railway
Post-groupingLondon, Midland and Scottish Railway
Key dates
9 April 1849 (1849-04-09)Opened
Passengers
2018/19Increase 1.565 million
 Interchange  Decrease 10,067
2019/20Decrease 1.517 million
 Interchange  Decrease 6,200
2020/21Decrease 0.285 million
 Interchange  Decrease 1,414
2021/22Increase 0.804 million
 Interchange Increase 7,492
2022/23Increase 0.971 million
 Interchange  Increase 12,965
Location
Map
Notes
Passenger statistics from the Office of Rail and Road

Walsall railway station is the principal railway station of Walsall, West Midlands, England and situated in the heart of the town. It is operated by West Midlands Trains, with services provided by West Midlands Railway. The main entrance is situated inside the Saddlers Shopping Centre.

History edit

The Grand Junction Railway provided the town with its first rail service, albeit indirectly from 1837. Their Birmingham to Warrington line passed to the south and was provided with a station at Bescot Bridge (near the present Bescot Stadium station), from where travellers could catch a connecting stagecoach. The Grand Junction company laid a branch line from Bescot to a temporary depot in the town at Bridgeman Place a decade later, but it was not until 9 April 1849 that a permanent station was opened on the present site.[1] This was completed by the South Staffordshire Railway as part of their route from Wichnor Junction (south of Burton-upon-Trent) to Dudley, which opened the same day. Further route development followed - the SSR added a branch northwards to Cannock in 1858 (which was extended to Rugeley the following autumn), whilst the Wolverhampton and Walsall Railway line linked the town to Wolverhampton via North Walsall in 1872. The network was completed by the Midland Railway, whose line from Castle Bromwich via Aldridge opened in 1879.[2] The Midland had by this time also purchased the W&WR from the rival London and North Western Railway, though the LNWR still ran occasional services over it until the 1923 Grouping.[3] The station was rebuilt in 1883, due to increasing traffic levels, with five platforms and separate booking offices for each of the two companies using it.[1] A fire damaged the main booking hall in 1916, but it was not until after the World War I had ended in 1918 that a full rebuild of the concourse could be effected. The new booking hall was completed & opened in 1923.

Under LMS auspices, the Midland line to Wolverhampton via Wednesfield and Willenhall Stafford Street closed to passengers in 1931[3] (it being less direct than the older Grand Junction line via Darlaston).

The line from Birmingham was electrified in 1966 as part of the London Midland Region's electrification programme.[4] The actual energization of the line from Coventry to Walsall through Aston took place on 15 August 1966.[5]

In the late 1980s and into the 1990s, vast improvements were made to the quality of services from Walsall. In April 1989 passenger services were reintroduced by British Rail on the previously freight only line to Hednesford 24 years after they were withdrawn.[1] The number of trains to Birmingham was gradually increased from one to four trains per hour and the Hednesford service was extended to Rugeley in 1997 (and subsequently through to Stafford) but the service to Stafford was cut back in 2008 to Rugeley Trent Valley under an agreement with London Midland and WCML operators. Only the now withdrawn daily Liverpool Lime Street services connected Walsall directly with Stafford.

Passenger services to Wolverhampton were reintroduced in 1998 which also ran on occasions to Wellington, but this service was short lived and the regular hourly service was withdrawn again in 2008 due to low passenger numbers. However, one train per day ran straight to Wolverhampton from Walsall, in the evening (leaving Walsall at 19.36) until the May 2013 timetable change as a parliamentary train to avoid the need for formal closure proceedings. This now[when?] runs in the opposite direction on Saturdays only (06.38 ex-Wolverhampton).[6] The West Midlands Combined Authority still[when?] has ambitions to reinstate a regular (half-hourly) weekday service on the route and reopen the stations at Willenhall and Darlaston, but funding problems have precluded any action being taken on the proposals.

Incidents edit

On 23 December 1854 a double headed south-bound goods train from the north was held outside the station, with a second goods train drawn up behind it. A third goods train collided with the rear of the second, at speed, forcing it into the first. The fireman of the second of the engines of the third train, on his first turn in the role, was killed after jumping from his engine.[7] The driver of the leading engine was charged with manslaughter.[8] The case against him was dropped.[9]

Beeching Axe and closures edit

Walsall was one of the towns most affected by the Beeching Axe, which resulted in passenger services being withdrawn on the line to Dudley in July 1964 and on the Wolverhampton - Walsall - Lichfield City - Burton-upon-Trent[10] and Walsall - Sutton Park - Birmingham routes in January 1965.[11]

The service to Rugeley Trent Valley was also closed to passengers on the same date, leaving towns like Bloxwich, Cannock, Hednesford and Rugeley without a railway connection. The remaining service to Birmingham was also reduced to hourly in the 1970s and almost withdrawn until it was saved and later improved.

The section to Lichfield remained open to freight traffic until 1984, when the line from Ryecroft Junction to Newtown, Brownhills closed to all traffic and the line was lifted and the stations (except Hammerwich) were demolished. The section from Newtown, Brownhills continued to serve Charringtons Oil Terminal until the closure of the terminal in 2001. The line was then mothballed and put out of use.

The section to Stourbridge remained open to serve as a diversion for freight and served the now-demolished Dudley Freightliner Terminal until 1993, when the route between Bescot/Walsall and the Round Oak steel terminal was taken out of use and mothballed.

Overview edit

Services from the station go to Birmingham New Street 10+34 miles (17.3 km) south on the Walsall Line, (operated on behalf of Transport for West Midlands), and north to Cannock and Rugeley.

The station has three platforms:

  • Platform 1: operating northbound, semi-fast services from Birmingham International to Rugeley Trent Valley;
  • Platform 2: operating southbound, semi-fast services from Rugeley Trent Valley to Birmingham International;
  • Platform 3: (a terminus platform) operating local services to Wolverhampton via Birmingham New Street.

Platforms 2 and 3 have been recently[when?] refurbished, with a new waiting room added and poems on the walls of the stairs to the platforms. The mainline platforms are electrified to 25 kV AC Overhead power.

A self-service ticket machine was placed on Platform 1 but was no longer in place in April 2011; however, a similar machine remains in the station booking hall which is at street level above platform 3.[citation needed] The station has a staffed ticket office.

Services edit

Walsall was formerly served by services to Wellington and Stafford but these were withdrawn in 2008 due to low passenger numbers and resulting in Walsall losing its connection to Shropshire. Walsall retains close connections to Rugeley Trent Valley for the West Coast Main Line. Three services a day to Stafford on the peak services to Liverpool Lime Street were discontinued after the May 2019 timetable change. Connections can be made at Birmingham New Street for services to Liverpool Lime Street.

There were also two morning services a day to Telford and Shrewsbury via Birmingham and Wolverhampton. This service was also introduced in the timetable change in May 2019. They were operated as extensions of the Shrewsbury to Wolverhampton Line. They replaced the former Liverpool Lime Street service. However in December 2019, following problems with services and disruptions, the Walsall service was once again withdrawn. This was replaced by a through Rugeley Trent Valley to Wolverhampton service.

The current service pattern is as follows:

Mondays to Saturdays:

Sundays:

  • Services run hourly in both directions.

The fast trains to Birmingham have occasional calls at Bescot Stadium and are routed via the direct line through Soho and Winson Green. The local stopping trains run via Aston on its route to Birmingham New Street.

Former and proposed services edit

In the May 2019 timetable there were services to London Euston which called at Bescot Stadium and Tame Bridge Parkway on the Chase Line before it continuing to Coventry, Rugby, Hampton-in-Arden, Northampton, Milton Keynes and London Euston. This has been withdrawn and instead starts from New Street.[14]

There were plans to introduce direct services to London Euston operated by Avanti West Coast in 2021, however in the December 2022 timetable changes it was decided this would not go ahead.[15][16][17]

Commuters from Walsall to London will continue having to interchange using West Midlands Railway services at Rugeley Trent Valley, Wolverhampton or Birmingham New Street for services to London.

Preceding station   National Rail Following station
Bloxwich   West Midlands Railway
Rugeley – Walsall – Birmingham
Chase Line
  Tame Bridge Parkway
  West Midlands Railway
Rugeley – WalsallBirmingham – Wolverhampton
Chase Line
Limited service
 
TerminusWest Midlands Railway
TerminusWest Midlands Railway
Disused railways
Line and station closed
London and North Western Railway
Line and station closed
Terminus
Line and station closed
Midland RailwayTerminus
Line and station closed
Midland RailwayTerminus

Future proposals edit

There are plans to reopen a terminus single platform at the disused Aldridge station for trains to Birmingham New Street via Walsall but not to Sutton Coldfield and Water Orton.

In a strategy which has been conducted by the West Midlands Combined Authority, the line from Walsall to Lichfield has been identified as a disused rail corridor and this means that it is a long term ambition to reopen the line from Walsall to Lichfield, either a rail/light rail corridor. There are also aspirations to reconnect the disused line at Wednesbury to Walsall as either rail or tram.[18]

There are also proposals to reintroduce services to Wolverhampton via Willenhall, with re-opened stations at Darlaston and Willenhall, operated by West Midlands Railway. This would give passengers a faster service to Wolverhampton as opposed to the current service via Birmingham New Street.[19] This is due to open in 2024.[20]

Gallery edit

References edit

  1. ^ a b c "History of Walsall's train station" Walsall Council; Retrieved 6 April 2016
  2. ^ "Disused Stations - Sutton Park" Disused Stations; Retrieved 6 April 2016
  3. ^ a b "Disused Stations - North Walsall Retrieved 6 April 2016
  4. ^ Nock, O.S. (1966). Britain's New Railway. London: Ian Allan. pp. 147–159.
  5. ^ Gillham, J.C. (1988). The Age of the Electric Train - Electric trains in Britain since 1883. Shepperton: Ian Allan. p. 169.
  6. ^ GB eNRT December 2015 Edition, Table 70 (Network Rail)
  7. ^ Capt. H. W. Tyler (18 January 1855). Accident Returns: Extract for the Accident at Walsall on 23rd December 1854 (PDF). Board of Trade. pp. 3–8.
  8. ^ J.D. Payne, South Staffordshire Railway, General Manager's office, in reply to Tyler's report
  9. ^ Capt. H. W. Tyler, to Board of Trade
  10. ^ Railways of Willenhall Willenhall History Society; Retrieved 29 July 2021
  11. ^ Disused Stations - Sutton Park Disused Stations; Retrieved 29 July 2021
  12. ^ "Train times | 10 December 2023 until 1 June 2024 | Wolverhampton to Birmingham via Smethwick". West Midlands Railway.
  13. ^ "Train times | 10 December until 1 June 2024 | Rugeley to Birmingham New Street via Walsall". West Midlands Railway.
  14. ^ "Train Times | Chase Line | Timetable from 19 May to 14 December 2019" (PDF). West Midlands Railway.
  15. ^ "Here's how West Coast rail services will change as a new operator replaces Virgin Trains". Birmingham Live. 14 August 2019. Retrieved 15 August 2019.
  16. ^ "West Coast Partnership franchise improvements map". Department for Transport. 14 August 2019.
  17. ^ "West Coast Mainline December 2022 Timetable changes by route" (PDF). December 2022.
  18. ^ "Movement for Growth: 2026 Delivery Plan for Transport, Annex 1 - Corridors" (PDF). pp. 26, 28, 34. Retrieved 16 July 2019.
  19. ^ "Willenhall and Darlaston stations". West Midlands Rail Executive.
  20. ^ Parkes, Thomas (8 April 2023). "Ground conditions still a 'significant risk' to new £55m rail stations - bosses". Express and Star.

External links edit