Express & Star

Easter railway chaos as trains to shut down at same time as Midland Metro

Rail passengers will have to use buses when the West Coast Main Line between Wolverhampton and Birmingham shuts down over Easter – at the same time that the Midland Metro is also closed for major work.


Network Rail is stopping services between the cities on March 28, a day before the Midland Metro shuts down for platforms to be extended.

There will be no trains will run through Wolverhampton on the West Coast Main Line again until April 2, and the Metro will be closed until April 15.

Virgin Trains passengers will use replacement buses between Wolverhampton and Sandwell and Dudley rail station, in Oldbury, then transfer to a London Midland train and change again at Birmingham New Street.

There was anger today that the rail work is taking place at the same time as the Midland Metro will be shut down, removing one of the key alternatives people could have used to get to Birmingham. The Metro closes for major work after the last tram on Good Friday and will not reopen until April 15 so that platforms along the 23-stop route can be altered.

Kevin Chapman, chairman of the West Midlands Campaign for Better Transport, said: "The work has got to be done, but why does it have to be done at the same time as the Metro? Easter is a very busy time on the national rail network because people are travelling to go on holiday."

But Steve Swingler, spokesman for West Midlands transport authority Centro, said the Easter school holidays were a good time for the Metro work to take place because the line tends to have fewer commuters with many families away. "We were aware of the Virgin work and they were aware of our closure and due consideration was given to this", he said. "However, the two services are used in very different ways.

"Most Metro passengers travelling to Birmingham or Wolverhampton are boarding the trams at their local stop along the line so the railway running between the two city centres does not offer an alternative in many cases."

Richard Stanton, spokesman for Virgin Trains, said: "It is a serious piece of work that Network Rail is doing south of Wolverhampton rail station. We will be terminating services at Birmingham New Street. London Midland will operate services to Sandwell & Dudley and there will be shuttle buses between Sandwell & Dudley and Wolverhampton."

The Metro line between Wolverhampton and Birmingham Snow Hill is being closed so that engineers can modify platforms ahead of the launch of a new £40m fleet of bigger trams next year.

The new 20-strong Spanish-built fleet will start to go into service on the route in 2014 and allow for 10 services an hour.

The entire fleet will have been replaced by 2015.

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