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Survey launched on Stourbridge to Brierley Hill shuttle idea

By Jamie Brassington | Dudley | Transport | Published:

A rail operator is exploring plans to develop a new train service between Stourbridge and Brierley Hill.

The proposed rail route

The proposed route would take passengers between Stourbridge Junction and the Waterfront, with six stops along the way. An extension could also branch off to Pensnett.

Stourbridge Shuttle's operator has launched a public consultation into the proposed line - dubbed The Dudley & Stourbridge Light Railway - to gauge the public's view.

It could see a similar service, like the existing line between Stourbridge Junction and Stourbridge Town Centre, operate with a small Parry People Mover train.

The aim of the train line would be to improve connectivity within the Dudley borough and reduce congestion on the region's gridlocked roads.

The Stourbridge Shuttle

Under the plans, the proposed route would use an existing freight line owned by Network Rail. Small stations would be added along the route.

Geoff Lusher, director of shuttle operator Pre Metro Operations Limited (PMOL), said: "We would simply have to use the existing tracks and put little stations in.

"The route is a freight line at the moment. Network Rail operates freight trains on the line - but it is not used frequently.

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"Network Rail are on board with the project. They have been helpful and sympathetic about what we are trying to do."

PMOL would be charged by Network Rail to operate trains on the line. The rail operator currently runs the Stourbridge Town branch line, which is believed to be the shortest in Europe.

The full proposed rail route

Mr Lusher added: "Local people who live along the line, please get in touch and answer our survey. The more people who are interested in the project, the better. We are trying to get support for this from the local community."

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The proposed stops would be: Stourbridge Junction, Stourbridge; Vicarage Road (for Corbett Hospital) and Brettell Lane, Amblecote; and Station Road, Waterfront and Canal Street, Brierley Hill.

At both ends of the proposed line, shuttle passengers would be able to connect with other rail services.

The Canal Street stop, in Brierley Hill, would act as an interchange with the Midland Metro, which is set to open in 2023. Passengers could also connect with Park & Ride bus services.

In Stourbridge, Stourbridge Junction has train services connected to the National Rail network.

But before any plans can move forward, PMOL needs to find out if this idea is welcomed by the public.

John Poole, owner of Oakham Research which is carrying out the survey, said: "Our remit, as market researchers, is to find out at this stage, on behalf of Stourbridge Shuttle's operator Pre Metro Operations Limited, if there is a demand for this new line.

"From what I understand, there are no plans to extend the Midland Metro from Stourbridge to Brierley Hill, so this line would help to connect another step in the integrated transport system."

Vital

But even if the plans are not widely received, PMOL is open to new rail routes elsewhere in the Black Country and West Midlands.

If plans were to move forward, the final decision on this new line would need approval by the West Midlands Mayor Andy Street, alongside Transport for West Midlands, which governs transport in the region.

Work has taken place in the background by Andy Street on such an extension between Stourbridge and Brierley Hill.

Mr Street has been pivotal in delivering the Midland Metro extension project, between Wednesbury and Brierley Hill, which is set for completion by 2023.

While the idea has been mooted, Mr Street's office are not yet sure what form that extension could be, such as light rail or extending the Midland Metro.

Speaking on the possible rail link, Mr Street said: "Plans are well underway to establish a link between Stourbridge and Brierley Hill once the Wednesbury metro expansion to Brierley Hill is completed.

"What we are not currently sure on is what form that link will take, whether it is, for example, an expansion of the metro or an expansion of the shuttle service.

"Other options are available and a feasibility study is currently out. Transport for West Midlands and I will view the results with interest before making a decision on what the link should be.

"A strong transport link between the two towns is vital for the borough of Dudley and I am committed to making it happen."

To take part in the survey, visit oakhamwarp.dinksurveys.com/Transport-Survey.

Jamie Brassington

By Jamie Brassington
Senior Multi-Media Journalist - @JamieB_Star

Senior reporter at the Express & Star. Contact me at jamie.brassington@expressandstar.co.uk.

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