The South Staffordshire Line
was a railway line that connected Lichfield in Staffordshire,
England with Dudley, formerly in
Worcestershire. However, it joined the
Worcester and Wolverhampton Railway's line just north of Dudley
Station, where it, in essence, continued to Stourbridge, in Worcestershire
(Dudley and Stourbridge were later to become part of the West Midlands
The section south of Round Oak remains
open for freight workings only, and is now officially referred to
as the South Staffordshire Line. The line was built by the South Staffordshire
The Original Line and Route
The line officially began at Wychnor Junction, north of Lichfield,
and ran through what is now Lichfield Trent Valley. Trains then
continued through to Lichfield City itself. From there, a plethora
of stations along the route were served. The line continued through
to Walsall and a low-level station at Dudley Port. This was
technically the terminus of the line but it was connected to the
OW&WR's line and then ran through Dudley itself from 1860.
It went on
to serve other stations before eventually terminating at the
south-western extremity of the Black Country at Stourbridge Junction.
before its termination at Stourbridge, it crossed (and continues to
cross) the massive Stambermill Viaduct which is one of the local area's most significant
landmarks. It also crossed
Viaduct just south of Dudley and for
several hundred yards passed through Dudley Railway
History and Passenger usage
The line was opened in 1849. This was soon to become part of the
London and North
as far as Dudley station, which, in 1860, was
opened as a joint venture with the OW&WR itself later to become
amalgamated into the Great Western
. This station was built ten years after the original
connection, however, and trains on the South Staffordshire Line ran
from Walsall to Stourbridge fairly early on. Dudley provided a
useful change point for passengers from Walsall and Stourbridge to
Wolverhampton, though this wasn't utilised to quite the effect
the OW&WR had hoped, due to the similar connection at Dudley
Port by the SSR with the Stour Valley Line - which today forms part
of the West Midlands
section of the West Coast Main Line.
north of Dudley Port, a link to the Birmingham Snow Hill- Wolverhampton Low Level route was added sometime between the inauguration
of the line and the opening of Great Bridge South railway station
All three of the above - Dudley Port, Great Bridge
and Wednesbury - were completed in 1850, and the line was then
opened accordingly. All other stations on the route - from
Lichfield to Walsall - were in operation from 1849.
Passenger travel existed on this route from then through until 1964
with the fall of the Beeching Axe
one station fell along the way - Rushall being closed in 1909. The
OW&WR portion of the line was closed pre-Beeching, in 1962.
was used as a through route from Walsall right up until the closure
of the line on 19 March 1993, mainly being used for freight duties at the
Freightliner Terminal, which closed - despite being far more profitable
than Birmingham's terminal - on 26
Traffic on the line
continued to slump after the terminal's closure, and decreased the
line's viability. The section of railway north of Walsall had already
been closed, with the last train using the route on 19 March 1984 and the track
being lifted two years later.
The Brierley Hill to Walsall section of the line officially closed
on 19 March 1993
years to the day that the Walsall-Lichfield line had closed.
there were a handful of other movements on the line after its
official closure, including a cable-laying train which covered the
route on 2 July 1993, on
its journey from Birmingham to Stafford.
from Stourbridge Junction to Round Oak Steel Terminal is all that remains of the South Staffordshire
Railway and its line, though virtually all of the track on the
closed section towards Walsall is in place.
The Line today
little of the South Staffordshire line is used today, although
Lichfield City and the connection to Lichfield Trent Valley
high-level remain as part of London
Midland's Cross-City Service to Redditch via Birmingham
New Street. Freight usage on the OW&WR portion of
the route has once again become more common thanks to the Round Oak
In terms of infrastructure, nearly all of the trackbed still
remains, and indeed so does much of the track. The closed section
South Staffordshire line has gradually fallen into disrepair over
the last decade or so, with much of the trackbed heavily overgrown
- in some areas almost totally concealed by vegetation. Most of the
track between the Blowers Green Road and Highgate Road overbridges
was removed in 1999 upon the construction of the Dudley Southern
By-pass overbridge, leading up to the buffers at Harts Hill which
mark the beginning of the line's closed section. A few yards of
track just north of the Dudley Freightliner site have been removed,
along with part of the track at Golds Hill crossing; this is
believed to have been the work of vandals.
A number of fences have been placed along closed sections of the
line in a bid to clamp down on anti-social behaviour which had been
occurring. These fences are fitted at locations including the canal
underbridge near Conygree Road, the entrances to Dudley Tunnel and
the northern side of the level crossing near Wednesbury town
centre. There is also a fence across the northern end of the closed
line at Walsall; this encloses a heavily overgrown section of
railway which includes many mature trees.
Approximately three years before the line's
closure, the signal box in Dudley was
destroyed by arsonists, as was the signal box at Golds Hill
crossing after the line closed.
Another signal box on the
active line (near Brettell Lane) was burnt down much more
Three bridges have also been built over the line since its closure.
In 1995, a four-span viaduct was completed over Golds Hill crossing
to carry the new Black Country
; construction of this road had actually started
while the line was still in use. 1999 saw the opening of a new overbridge
to carry the Midland Metro near
Potters Lane in Wednesbury and another to carry the Dudley Southern
The bridge carrying Tipton Road over the line was
rebuilt in 2005, and a new overbridge was built in 2006 to carry
the line over a new road on a commercial development north of
Wednesbury town centre.
Future re-opening of the line has been suggested several times in
many different forms.
The most likely plan - to be approved before the end of 2000s and
completed in about 2013 - is Line 2 of the Midland Metro
, which would diverge at
Wednesbury and follow the route of the South Staffordshire Line. It
is planned this will be a single line venture. Any stops on the
route (which will probably occur around the points of the old
railway stations) are likely to be doubled as passing places. The
Midland Metro plan was actually formulated back in 1992, a year
before the line's closure. There are also plans afoot to reinstate the
line to Walsall as a single freight line (frequency of trains along
this route would never warrant a double line) to allow a quicker
route to Bescot
TMD, which is currently only traversable by means of a
lengthy run through Cradley Heath, diverging at Galton Junction and
then later at Soho East.
The most unlikely plan is that of
in 1997 - which suggested
passenger services may be laid on once more. This was part of a
plan to give the Merry Hill Shopping Centre its own heavy rail link.
These plans never
came to fruition and are unlikely to - although it is clear that a
heavy rail link would make the centre far more attractive to those
from far afield.