See Buckshee at Engine House on the Severn Valley Railway over the weekend of the 17th and 18th August – see you there !!
When the Redditch Railway was constructed the Redditch to Barnt Green line in the 1850's it was built to double track standards in that all cuttings and embankments were made wide enough for two tracks as are all bridges over the railway. However many of the bridges under the railway are only built to single track standards including the bridge over The Worcester & Birmingham Canal at Alvechurch and the bridge over Windsor Road in Redditch. The brick parapets on both bridges are wide enough to take two tracks if the girder work carrying the rail line were to be extended. During the Second World War serous consideration was given to doubling the line as an alternative to the mainline through Bromsgrove and because a new factory for High Duty Alloys Ltd was constructed beside the rail line at Redditch. The factory was located with the idea to provide a siding to transport the castings they make for the aircraft industry. This plan for the siding and double track came to nothing.
As part of the franchise agreement for London Midland the current rail operator of the train service to Redditch they are committed, subject to funding being available, to increase the frequency of the rail service to Redditch from two to three trains an hour and introduce a similar frequency to Bromsgrove. This requires electrification of the rail line from Barnt Green to Bromsgrove, a new station at Bromsgrove and doubling of some of the single line from Barnt Green to Redditch. The other original commitment to increase all trains on the Cross City service from Redditch/Bromsgrove to Lichfield to 6 cars is unlikely to be achieved. The additional trains needed for the increased frequency to Redditch and the service to Bromsgrove can only be achieved with an order for additional electric trains (likely to be Class 350 units) thus allowing extra Class 323 units to be released of other London Midland services onto the Cross City line. With proposed completion works on the Redditch branch of Summer 2014 London Midland can only be the operator if either the current franchise is extended or they are successful in obtaining a new franchise.
The current plan is to double the branch line from just north of the road bridge over Weights Lane to a point just before the bridge over the canal at Alvechurch a distance of around 3km or 1.8 miles which around 40% of the total length of the line from Redditch to Barnt Green. This would also require an extra platform to be constructed at Alvechurch. Ideally a new footbridge will be provided which as well as providing passenger access to both platforms will also allow the current foot crossing at the south of the station for a public right of way to be diverted via the footbridge to improve public safety in the area.
The current provisional timeline for the project is :
Autumn 2011 - First round of public consultation
Winter 2011 - Review of the consultation - Click here for the results
Spring 2012 - Further consultation
Autumn / Winter 2012 - On 4 September 2012 plans for the project were submitted to the Planning Inspectorate for the necessary powers to deliver the scheme. On 2 October 2012 the scheme was accepted for review, and is now undergoing examination.
Autumn / Winter 2013 - Construction starts
December 2014 - New railway opens
During April 2011 it was announced that Siemens would construct a further 20 Class 350 EMUs. 10 are to be allocated to the London Midland franchise. These new units will enable 3 additional Class 323s to be allocated to the cross city line giving enough units to run a 20 minute frequency train service to Redditch and also run a 20 minute frequency extending the remainder of the cross city services from Longbridge to Bromsgrove once the line from Barnt Green to Bromsgrove is electrified and a new station is built at Bromsgrove