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Re-open the Stourbridge to Brierley Hill railway line!

The Stambermill railway viaduct - one of the most iconic sights in Stourbridge and a feature of the landscape for more than 150 years, if you include the original wooden one. The line is fully operational and is used for freight transport but not for passengers, we think this is a waste of valuable resources in an area where the roads are very busy. The Stourbridge Line User Group (SLUG) have been campaigning for the re-opening of this line for passenger use for years and Stourbridge.com fully supports this campaign.

The line is fully operational right up to Brierley Hill, close to the Merry Hill centre and the Waterfront. Local people know how busy the area is and the opening of this line to passengers would be a boon to the whole area, shoppers, workers, students, everybody! Ultimately SLUG would like to see the line re-opened all the way up to Walsall, as the line is still in place, albeit in need of refurbishment. So join SLUG today and help the campaign for common sense for transport!. Please see the SLUG statement below the photos (click photos to enlarge)
Stourbridge Junction
Without dismissing the architectural merits of St Thomas’s Church and King Edward VI College in Stourbridge, it would be fair to cite Stambermill Viaduct as the town’s most outstanding structure. The ten arches spanning Birmingham Street and the River Stour define the name of Stourbridge. Viewed at dawn or dusk in silhouette, its true beauty and magnificence is only captured when it is traversed by a train. Sadly, trains carrying freight are only about four a day. Passenger trains are non-existent.

The Stourbridge Line User Group is an organisation representing passengers travelling between Worcester and Birmingham via Stourbridge. As well as safeguarding the interests of commuters on this line, the Group wants to restore the connection between Stourbridge Junction and Walsall via Brierley Hill (Round Oak) where the line presently terminates.

For over twenty years, the officers of SLUG, who give their time voluntarily, have campaigned relentlessly for the reinstatement of a passenger railway service for Dudley Borough. The obstacle is always the same – lack of funding. This year, more than ever before, has seen a political will from all parties locally to upgrade the West Midlands’ railway network and Centro policy documents highlight the usefulness of the Stourbridge to Walsall line.

Historically, the main line from Stourbridge Junction continued from Dudley to Wolverhampton and was known as the “Oxford, Worcester and Wolverhampton Railway (OWWR). At the Wolverhampton end, a short length is now used by Midland Metro trams and heavy rail trains can never reach Wolverhampton Low Level again. Metro trams may not extend to Stourbridge Junction because the Merry Hill Centre is the more attractive terminus.

SLUG has emphasised the need to plug Brierley Hill and Dudley into the national rail network. This can best be physically achieved at Stourbridge Junction. Engineering and remodelling of the Junction station would be costly but necessary, as this is a rail bottleneck. However, traffic bottlenecks exist on roads too leading out of Stourbridge such as Brettell Lane. There are now environmental considerations.

Centro which is the West Midlands Integrated Transport Authority is currently investigating the suitability of a tram-train vehicle. This is a hybrid, and some versions would not require continuous overhead electrics. The ITA has been investigating tram-trains as a stop-gap measure before electric Metro services are introduced. The tram-train concept may well be permanent. SLUG supports any initiative which utilises the whole route from Walsall to Stourbridge and not just to the Merry Hill Centre. Tram-train, implemented properly, would still enable freight and heavy rail passenger trains to use the tracks.

As well as rallying the political institutions, SLUG has enlisted the support of a new regional campaigning body: “Campaign for Rail, West Midlands” is an organisation which represents Rail User Groups in five counties. CFR is devoted to developing the rail network to match the growing demand. SLUG will be working closely with CFR on the Dudley Line campaign.

The Stourbridge Line User Group welcomes new members. SLUG believes that Stourbridge Junction is an attractive destination and interchange for the six-trains-an-hour service to Birmingham. During the morning peaks, passengers arriving from Dudley direction could proceed to London Marylebone with just one change of train. SLUG wants to make this scenario a reality. You could help by filling in the downloadable membership form on their website www.stourbridgelineusergroup.info

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