Transport for West Midlands bosses last month said it had secured £150,000 funding to push forward plans to reopen a line in Aldridge, with £30 million set aside to pay for construction.
The plan includes a new single platform station on the edge of Aldridge town centre, ready to open during 2027. Options for a park and ride car park are also being explored.
Independent business owners in the shopping centre, who have had to contend with Covid, the rise in online shopping and now the cost of living crisis, are optimistic a railway station will give the area a welcome boost.
Maria Cooke, who runs Jewellery & Gifts, is also the chair of Aldridge Village Partnership to develop and promote the area as well as making it a welcoming and safe place.
She said: “We would certainly welcome any kind of improvement for the area. People can access us and we can access other areas so that has got to be good for everybody.
“It’s been a long time that it’s been talked about so it would be lovely if it actually happened. It is a boost for businesses. If people can commute a lot easier then it has got to be better for people who are here.
“As chair of the Aldridge Village Partnership, I’d like the area to be keeping up with new transport options and giving people more choice. People in the partnership welcome this and support it.
“I want to see all the businesses here to do well and thrive. We want people to be comfortable here and enjoy the environment and for it to be cared for.”
Aldridge Phones has been open for a month in the parade and boss Nasir Khan said: “I think it’s going to be good. It will open it up for people to come in from outside of Aldridge.
“It will be a benefit for businesses locally. Aldridge people want people to visit the place and the train will enable more people to do that.
“It will be easier as well for people who live here to get to Birmingham whenever they need to. If they want to go by train at the moment, they have to go to Walsall by bus first.”
David Brewer, of Orchard Hills Bakery, said: “We think a new train station will lead to an increase in footfall from people being able to come on a train.
“Maybe one concern is people will leave Aldridge to go somewhere else because of a train but that’s to be seen.
“It is good for the locals and we do believe it will be good for business eventually. We have got a bus service but we welcome this.
“There is quite a large population who walk to the shops here so we have a very community minded local centre and it would be nice for people on the outside to be able to come here.
“There’s more independents here than in other shopping centres so that might be an attraction for them.”
David Parker, at Cards and Gifts said while trade had improved compared to last year, they were still not doing the levels of business they were in 2019.
He said: “I think it would be really good as it gives people extra access to Aldridge to come shopping. I’m certainly all for it.
“Footfall isn’t very good at the moment. We’re trading up on last year but not to the levels of 2019. We are going in the right direction but it is slow.
“So I would hope a train will help. I drive but I would get a train – I’d never get a bus. At least with a train station I can jump on and get where I want to.
“We get a lot of older customers and they are our target audience. A lot of them don’t drive and so if they can jump on a train that’s great.”
And Debbie Summers, at Croft News, added: “I do think this is a good thing – It’s about time Aldridge had a train station again.
“It is easier for people to get the train to Birmingham or Walsall so it’s definitely a good idea. It would probably benefit businesses like us as people would find it easier to come in on the train.
“At the moment, things are quiet although I think everywhere is the same and people are watching their money. But hopefully a train station will help and be a good boost for the area.”