Local councillors have welcomed the news that the long-awaited upgrades to Bromsgrove Station, bringing significant changes in connectivity between Bromsgrove, Redditch, Barnt Green and Birmingham, remain on track for a July completion.
The upgrades will double services between Bromsgrove-Birmingham, with two trains an hour and four at peak-time. They will also result in an increase in services from Bromsgrove to Barnt Green: by train, Barnt Green is only 6 minutes away from Bromsgrove, but effectively inaccessible with only two direct services per day. In addition, Network Rail have confirmed that the journey time between Bromsgrove and Redditch could halve as a result of the option to change at Barnt Green.
The upgrades have been a long time coming. Currently, Bromsgrove has just one service: the West Midlands Rail from Hereford. The new developments will extend the Cross-City Line to Birmingham: funding was originally secured in 2010, estimated completion date 2014. This became May 2018, and now July, as extra time was needed to train drivers to run the new electric trains. In the meantime, despite no increase in services, use of Bromsgrove Station has been increasing steadily, by nearly 100,000 passengers across five years*. Since 2010, it has been one of only four towns in the UK to have over half a million visitors and just an hourly service.
Writing in response to a query, Network Rail confirmed that the date for introduction of the new services remains Sunday 29th July, and that they would be submitting the necessary technical information to the Office of Rail and Road for approval into passenger services on that date.
Local councillors Phil Thomas and Malcolm Glass, whose wards contain or are adjacent to the station, have welcomed the firm July date and called on Network Rail to ensure that the final date is kept.
Cllr Thomas said: “The increase in train services will have a great effect when it comes. We’re a thriving market town but we’ve been left far behind in terms of rail services. An improvement in train services followed by an improvement in bus links would mean Bromsgrove becomes a viable destination by public transport from Birmingham; more locally, increased numbers of trains from the station is helpful for the shops in Aston Fields.”
Cllr Malcolm Glass said: “This could bring real opportunities. The electrification of the railway line is vital to keep Bromsgrove on track as a working destination from Birmingham. It doesn’t make sense that for so long Bromsgrove and Barnt Green were effectively kept separate despite being on the same line. The increase in services also means Bromsgrove-Redditch is an accessible journey by train, which could mean great things for both town centres.”
*Source: Office of Rail and Road statistics on station usage, http://orr.gov.uk/statistics/published-stats/station-usage-estimates. The number of passengers per year was just over 500,000 passengers per year in 2011-2012, increasing to over 600,000 in 2016-2017