The Future of the Snow Hill Lines

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centraltrains

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Anyone want to speculate/dream about what the Snow Hill lines might or could be like in the future? They are such a lovely commuter lines for Birmingham as it has so little shared track working compared to most of the other services!

Here is a long mash of my thoughts, would be very keen to hear other peoples thoughts!

I always wonder when/if it will ever be electrified? Seems as a mainly standalone line that it would be quite hard to get the initiative needed to electrify it. Especially given for the 2nd time in 10 years, the line is yet again getting new diesel trains...

Snow Hill station has large empty spaces above the tracks like New Street had before it was done up (if memory serves me right) and I always wondered if this was perhaps for electrification in mind?

Living in a section with 20 minute frequency, I always get very jealous of the 10 minute frequency from Birmingham to Stourbridge and the additional services the Chiltern services provide to Dorrdige/Solihull. Do you think there would ever be a case for making services even more frequent than they are currently?

Do you think there is any more chance of more WCML services stopping at Smethwick GB? Always feels like the interchange frequency isn't quite enough to optimize the usefulness of it...

I always find it a shame that Bordesley gets so little service given its centralness to Birmingham. Will it ever be done up if the surrounding area gets some new life? Also if it did which services would stop? Would feel a pain to have yet another stop on the Small Heath/Tyesley stoppers, they already feel like they take too much longer than the fasts (though in reality is only 2/3 mins faster)

And most of the stations still have PERTIS machines, that's a good thing though for someone who likes PERTIS machines as much as me! I wonder how soon it will be that they will get cash/card TVMs in instead of the mainly card only ones.

It always amazes me that Whitlock's End isn't in the penalty fare scheme yet the next stop up of Wythall is! Yet London Midland certainty put up posters saying it was!

Will anything ever happen with the sidings near Small Heath? They seem unused, I once a few months ago for the first time saw freight train past a fence in that area which really surprised me. Could this be used at all for expansion for Tyesley? Does Tyesley still have plenty of capacity?

And are any plans in the reinstating platform 4 at Snow Hill now the trams have gone? Feels so annoying now that the connection to Snow Hill by tram has a much longer walk... Are there plans to connect the actual Snow Hill tram stop to the subway? The walk from Bull Street isn't exactly pleasant in the rain which it always seems to be when I make it!
 
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Harbornite

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And are any plans in the reinstating platform 4 at Snow Hill now the trams have gone?

I believe so, this will free up capacity at Moor Street (capacity that can then be utilised by Camp Hill services)

As you've said, electrification would be good, perhaps from Dorridge and Stratford to Stourbridge or Kidderminster . Ideally it would eventually link up with Coventry- Southampton and Banbury-Marylebone electrification schemes, as well as the electrification of Bromsgrove-Droitwich-Worcester Shrub Hill- Abbotswood Jn, which could tie in with Bromsgrove to Bristol. However, these schemes are obviously not short term and would be rather expensive (e.g. you'd need to resignal Droitwich and Worcester) and you'd still have diesel services to Great Malvern, not to mention that new DMU stock is being ordered. A rather more short term proposal is to extend some of GWR's Worcester-Paddington services to Kidderminster.
 

CdBrux

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As you've said, electrification would be good, perhaps from Dorridge and Stratford to Stourbridge or Kidderminster . Ideally it would eventually link up with Coventry- Southampton and Banbury-Marylebone electrification schemes, as well as the electrification of Bromsgrove-Droitwich-Worcester Shrub Hill- Abbotswood Jn, which could tie in with Bromsgrove to Bristol. However, these schemes are obviously not short term and would be rather expensive (e.g. you'd need to resignal Droitwich and Worcester) and you'd still have diesel services to Great Malvern, not to mention that new DMU stock is being ordered. A rather more short term proposal is to extend some of GWR's Worcester-Paddington services to Kidderminster.

Could bi-modes be an answer to the longer distance services? Electrify the most densely used parts to the limits of the Brum commuter services for fully EM service and then use bi-modes to run beyond the limits of the wires
 

Bevan Price

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In any progressive country (e.g. Germany, Switzerland, etc.), the entire Snow Hill network would have been electrified at least 40 years ago. However, with a new DMU fleet being built, it will probably be at least 2040 - 2050 before UK gets round to considering electrification. By then, UK governments will realise (too late) that use of oil-based fuels needed to be minimised.

Not sure that more frequent services are necessary yet**. If capacity is a problem, what they need is spmething bigger than 2 or 3 coach DMUs.

(** - But if a suitable timetable is feasible, inclusion of a few "fast services" to reduce journey times to places like Henley in Arden / Stratford on Avon / Stoybridge Jn / Kidderminster / Worcester might be useful. )
 

deltic

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With Curzon Street opening in less than a decade there is likely to be a step change in the number of passengers using Snow Hill/Moor Street services - not only to connect into HS2 but also to the considerable amount of development that will occur in the area. Weren't there plans to take down the multi-storey over Snow Hill and replace it with offices? If so and the possible Camp Hill cord providing more services into the two stations there is certainly the potential/need to expand services into Snow Hill and the station to cope - probably as others state by lengthening trains perhaps more than adding frequencyy
 

HowardGWR

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I thought the new mayor wasn't going to let the Camp hill chord be built?
 

centraltrains

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Could bi-modes be an answer to the longer distance services? Electrify the most densely used parts to the limits of the Brum commuter services for fully EM service and then use bi-modes to run beyond the limits of the wires
But then it's just running with heavier trains which is less efficient. Snow Hill lines seem quite compact and would make sense to do in one big swoosh surely? Maybe Malvern might be a problem, but it would probably be easier to include that in a swoosh with Bromsgrove-Hereford

Not sure that more frequent services are necessary yet**. If capacity is a problem, what they need is spmething bigger than 2 or 3 coach DMUs.

(** - But if a suitable timetable is feasible, inclusion of a few "fast services" to reduce journey times to places like Henley in Arden / Stratford on Avon / Stoybridge Jn / Kidderminster / Worcester might be useful. )

Most trains are 3-5 coaches in multiple... I think there is only 1 diagrammed 2-car service weekdays.
I'm sure a SPLG broucher/document said that WMT were considering an additional evening peak service to Startford via Henley which would be express and were running a survey asking which stations people thought it should be stopped at... I personally think Snow Hill > Moor Street > Tyseley? > Hall Green > Shirley > Henley-in-Arden > Startford Upon Avon Parkway > Startford Upon Avon would be the best express for that..

I always find it strange when trains are expressed to make up time they express them as Moor Street > Shirley > Whitlock's (and then as normal to Startford or terminates here), Surely Hall Green should be an express stop given it has more passengers than Shirley?!

Worcester gets fasts from New Street and don't Chiltern run express peak services to/from Stourbridge/Kidderminster? I notice when Chiltern run the overall frequency is still every 10 mins so must be taking a WMT path... Wonder why it's not additional. Also strange with the Leamington being peak with WMT but off-peak with Chiltern....

[I think Tyseley and Small Heath are rather poorly served at every 30 mins considering other stations get trains every 20 minutes with similar passenger numbers, 20 minutes is about the bar I would say is acceptable for a "turn-up-and-go" service so find it a shame they don't get that frequency!

He suggests that it's worth cutting costs by extending New Street's Shrewsbury services via the Camp Hill line.

https://www.birminghampost.co.uk/news/regional-affairs/train-stations-moseley-kings-heath-14350952

I said Snow Hill, not Camp Hill, If it's going to Moor Street instead of Snow Hill and certainly if it's New Street then it can't be considered a Snow Hill service!! Are there even the available paths available that side of New Street for it to do that service with?!
 

satisnek

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My thoughts:

Is the 10 minute frequency really necessary? From my own observations the services up and down Old Hill Bank are carrying mostly air during the middle of the day, particularly those which start/finish at Stourbridge Junction. Wouldn't it be better to have a lower frequency so that Worcester services can run non-stop between Stourbridge and Birmingham, instead of merely missing out three lamp posts as at present?

Electrification? Well, I'll believe it when I see it. I had a full head of hair, a Young Person's Railcard and an ID card to buy my beer when the support posts were first installed between Reading and Didcot. OK, so I exaggerate but you get my drift. What would be better, I think, are DMUs which are actually suited to the route in question, rather than 'one size fits all' 100mph designs. The problem with electrification in Worcestershire is how far do you go? We haven't got a route between two major traffic centres, the traffic 'tapers out'. Electrification to Stourbridge - definitely. Kidderminster - probably. Worcester? Great Malvern? I really can't see electrification being justified all the way to Hereford.

But in the short term they really need to get their act together re revenue protection, which seems to have fallen off a cliff in recent times. And it's not just fare evasion. Just before Christmas I turned up at Kidderminster station to find the booking office closed at a time when it should have been open (this has been an ongoing problem for a few years now), the TVM was kaput, the guard never came down the train and when I got off at Moor Street everything was wide open so I just walked off - a complete freebie and as I had arranged a lift back home I saved a lot more than the difference between a Single and a Return!
 

the sniper

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That was planned regardless of the chords.

In the shorter term are the Shrewsburys being linked as a through service with the Worcester/Herefords, running via Camp Hill? Or are they running beyond New Street as additional services, possibly to somewhere else?
 

The Planner

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The idea is/was to extend them out to Kings Norton to serve the new Camp Hill stations, not to go any further.
 

jimm

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Electrification? Well, I'll believe it when I see it. I had a full head of hair, a Young Person's Railcard and an ID card to buy my beer when the support posts were first installed between Reading and Didcot. OK, so I exaggerate but you get my drift. What would be better, I think, are DMUs which are actually suited to the route in question, rather than 'one size fits all' 100mph designs. The problem with electrification in Worcestershire is how far do you go? We haven't got a route between two major traffic centres, the traffic 'tapers out'. Electrification to Stourbridge - definitely. Kidderminster - probably. Worcester? Great Malvern? I really can't see electrification being justified all the way to Hereford.

Electrification to Worcester is probably only going to happen on the back of a scheme to wire Bromsgrove to Bristol- but once that is done, then adding connecting routes becomes much more attractive as a way to eliminate diesel operation - e.g. filling in the gap along the Cotswold Line from Oxford. And if both GWR and WMR are running electric trains to Worcester, then going on to Malvern and Hereford becomes a different proposition, though getting even a conductor rail inside Ledbury Tunnel could be a challenge.

Snow Hill lines wiring probably won't be on the radar until we reach the point where Chiltern's current dmu fleet is approaching the end of its working life and someone takes a long hard look at how it should be replaced.
 
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Harbornite

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I said Snow Hill, not Camp Hill, If it's going to Moor Street instead of Snow Hill and certainly if it's New Street then it can't be considered a Snow Hill service!! Are there even the available paths available that side of New Street for it to do that service with?!

What’s with the attitude? I thought I made it obvious that I was responding to Howard GWR’s question regarding the Camp Hill chords. This is relevant because if the chords were built then services would be diverted into Moor Street, a station which is considered to be on the snow hill lines...
 

BanburyBlue

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Apologies for my ignorance, but can someone explain a bit more about the Camp Hill chords? I keep seeing them mentioned on various threads but don’t really understand the relevance?

Looking at Google, I think the Camp Hill chords are at the south end of Moor Street and would give access to the line behind St Andrews? So if reinstated, what benefits would this give us.

Thanks.
 

Harbornite

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Apologies for my ignorance, but can someone explain a bit more about the Camp Hill chords? I keep seeing them mentioned on various threads but don’t really understand the relevance?

Looking at Google, I think the Camp Hill chords are at the south end of Moor Street and would give access to the line behind St Andrews? So if reinstated, what benefits would this give us.

Thanks.

That’s basically it, the plan is for north and south facing chords, trains from the Nottingham and Kings Norton directions could be diverted into Moor Street, freeing up capacity at New Street.
 
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boxy321

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I experience Moor St.<>Solihull every day. Here's my thoughts:

Moor Street:

Westbound trains to Brum are heaving in the AM peak and likewise in the evening Eastward, to the point where they have to open the barriers for safety reasons and there are proper scrums. The 10 minute intervals are fine but more carriages are needed during this time. The platforms get packed because people know the train may only have 3 coaches.
I go the opposite way to this and it's not as bad, with only a few standing inbound from Solihull (pm) and no standees outbound on the Chiltern mk3 sets in the morning. The 8:10 student special can be a different matter.
Perhaps now they've thrown out the florists from the entrance there's a plan to improve the barrier situation and the silly trip round to P3 and 4 when in use.

Boardsley:

A 1 minute walk from the 37 7-minutely bus and 5 minutes from the city centre. Pointless station but made a great set for 'Ready Player One'. Close it.

Tyesley and Small Heath:

A hinderance to 99% of passengers. Again, the 37 bus and others go past on Warwick Road.

Acocks Green and Olton:

Can get busy and people joining seldom get a seat easily. Only adds 2 minutes to my journey.

Solihull:

Desperately needs improvement. The single staircase is a joke and the waiting room 1/4 the size it needs to be. To get a seat to myself I have to know where to stand and wait and then make a sharp exit at Moor Street.

General:

Train frequency may be 10 minutes but they are clumped together. There are large gaps for the XC and freight trains to pass through. The variance in services on the line means trains often travel at caution in to Moor Street which causes a laugh as half the passengers get up 5 minutes before we stop.
 

STKKK46

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Such is the variety of traffic these days there could certainly be worse ideas than looking in to four tracking from Lapworth/Dorridge to Tyseley again. Good imagination required to replace Widney Manor and Acocks Green car parks mind.

Small Heath sidings would probably be useful for unit storage however this would have to be a proper facility as trains wouldn’t last five minutes around there without being vandalised.
 

The Planner

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Small Heath is getting some use with an aggregates flow again apparently, and you would really need a big increase in traffic to justify 4 tracking it again.
 

Harbornite

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I remember Small Heath being used mainly for car transporters back in the late 1980s/early 90s.

Unsure if it was for Land Rovers though.

The yard was used for Land Rovers bound for Italy. Land Rovers produced at Solihull are now sent from Castle Bromwich instead.
 

centraltrains

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What’s with the attitude? I thought I made it obvious that I was responding to Howard GWR’s question regarding the Camp Hill chords. This is relevant because if the chords were built then services would be diverted into Moor Street, a station which is considered to be on the snow hill lines...
That there are already many threads discussing that and I wanted this to be very specific to Snow Hill lines and a referral to one of those threads would have been preferable from my OP viewpoint. I believe the OP has some sort of responsibility to notify people of going off-topic if they want the topic to stay on track... Maybe I should have quoted his as well as yours. Wasn't meant to be in a strict/cross attitude. Hard to communicate tone online by text only and my pedantic side probably spoilt that a little, sorry!

I experience Moor St.<>Solihull every day. Here's my thoughts:

Moor Street:
he platforms get packed because people know the train may only have 3 coaches.

Tyesley and Small Heath:

A hinderance to 99% of passengers. Again, the 37 bus and others go past on Warwick Road.

Solihull:

Desperately needs improvement. The single staircase is a joke and the waiting room 1/4 the size it needs to be. To get a seat to myself I have to know where to stand and wait and then make a sharp exit at Moor Street.

The yard was used for Land Rovers bound for Italy. Land Rovers produced at Solihull are now sent from Castle Bromwich instead.
Never get why Moor Street doesn't announce train lengths but most WMT stations on the line do.
Quite a lot of people get on a Tyseley & Small Heath... Not sure that it is a hindrance to them and I think they count for quite a lot more significance than 1%!
Aren't there plans/hopes to build a new Solihull station?
The Shirley branch has a very clock-face every 20 minutes, the Startford service dose interfere with that but only by 2 or 3 minutes. Solihull branch gets 2 trains per hour more than the other branch anyway!

Why doesn't land rover just have a terminal at the plant they make them at?! Seems very inefficient...
 

Class172

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The idea is/was to extend them out to Kings Norton to serve the new Camp Hill stations, not to go any further.
The latest revision of the plan appears to be to divert the Herefords away from University to fulfill the needs.

https://www.birminghampost.co.uk/news/regional-affairs/train-stations-moseley-kings-heath-14350952

A major stumbling block to the reopening of Birmingham’s Camp Hill rail line could be cleared thanks to a bold reworking of the plans.

The city has been crying out for passenger services to be brought back to the line through Moseley and Kings Heath for many years .
And West Midlands Mayor Andy Street made it a manifesto pledge to get work started on the line by the time his term of office ends in 2020.

The key engineering issue has been the need for a new railway viaduct in Bordesley to allow services to access Moor Street and Snow Hill Stations, avoiding congested New Street.

But now Mr Street says the viaduct is not necessary and a reorganising of services between Herefordshire and New Street could see the line open to New Street without adding to congestion.

He said: “Until now the reopening of the Camp Hill line has been predicated on the construction of a new chord in the Bordesley area of the city. It would allow services to access Snow Hill station, rather than clog up the platforms at the already clogged New Street station.

“But railway flyovers aren’t cheap, hence the reason that it’s not happened as yet. However, a bit of lateral thinking has meant a new plan, which would see services from Hereford diverted onto the Camp Hill line to stop at the new stations and then head to New Street.

…continued…
Needless to say I've previously made my views known on this. :|
 

Harbornite

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Quite a lot of people get on a Tyseley & Small Heath... Not sure that it is a hindrance to them and I think they count for quite a lot more significance than 1%!

.

According to wiki, Tyseley saw 2200,00 passengers in 2016/17 and Small Heath saw in the region of 163,000. Fairly reasonable figures in my opinion; in contrast, Solihull saw 1,884,000 and Shirely had 362,000.
 

Harbornite

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Location?

The location of Small Heath yard is not convenient for freight unless going south via Dorridge.

In fairness, the Land rover traffic was (and still is) southbound (Southampton)
 

Harbornite

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It does seem to me to be strange that that the Land Rovers have switched to Castle Bromwich.

I had tried to find out why, the only answer seems to be the use of Castle Brom railhead (opened 2003) instead. I'd been aware of Jags being loaded there but I've only seen pics from the last few months of Land Rover products on trains from Castle Bromwich.
 
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