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£10m funding boost for reopening of Black Country railway stations

By Jordan Reynolds | Darlaston | News | Published:

Plans to reopen the two stations on the Walsall to Wolverhampton line have moved a step forward after the award of £10 million of government funding.

An artist's impression of the proposed Darlaston station

Train passengers will be able to travel directly between the two hubs for the first time in more than 10 years when the line is reopened in 2021.

Currently only freight trains run on the Wolverhampton to Walsall line.

Stations in Darlaston and Willenhall closed in 1965 and only through services have used the line since then, bar between 1998 and 2008 when it reopened but closed again as there was not enough patronage.

The £10 million grant, from the Department for Transport, will go towards the construction of new stations at Darlaston and Willenhall.

Further costs are being met from the region’s HS2 Connectivity Fund.

An early design of the proposed Willenhall station

Now passenger services will resume on the line offering residents improved connections to Wolverhampton, Walsall and Birmingham New Street.

They will also unlock land for housing, industrial and commercial development along the rail corridor.

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Walsall North MP Eddie Hughes said the line will make a “big difference to local people”.

He said: “I’m delighted with the announcement that the Government is granting £25 million for new stations across the West Midlands, but I’m particularly excited about this one in Willenhall.

“Andy Street has supported this campaign right from the start and I’m looking forward to the station opening, hopefully, in 2021. It will make a big difference to local people.”

'Rebirth'

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And Walsall Council leader Mike Bird said he hopes it will be the “rebirth” of Willenhall and Darlaston.

“I think it’s fantastic news for the region,” he added.

“It gives people connectivity to the surrounding areas and hopefully it will be an opportunity to reach other area.

“Wherever we get a railway station the land around it becomes more valuable and people will built and invest there because of the access.

“It’s a catalyst we should welcome.

“I hope it will be the rebirth of both Darlaston and Willenhall.”

Both stations will have long-stay car parks, with 300 spaces provided at Darlaston and 150 spaces at Willenhall.

'Delighted'

Andy Street, the Mayor of the West Midlands, said: “I am delighted that our ambition to reopen the Walsall to Wolverhampton railway line to passengers has moved a significant step closer with this latest funding from government.

“Not only will the money help us to build high-class stations at both Darlaston and Willenhall, but these new stations will help drive significant regeneration of the Walsall to Wolverhampton corridor.

“By getting people out of their cars and onto this re-opened passenger line we are tackling both congestion and the climate change emergency at the same time. Today’s announcement really is brilliant news.”

Councillor Ian Ward, WMCA portfolio holder for transport and leader of Birmingham City Council, said: “The reopening of stations in Darlaston and Willenhall will encourage growth in industry and jobs in the Black Country as well as better linking communities to opportunities elsewhere.

“But this is just a part of our plans to transform rail service and public transport across the West Midlands.

“We are making progress with reopening Camp Hill line in Birmingham, creating better connections to the planned HS2 stations and seeing investment in more services, more capacity and better facilities across the region’s rail network.”

Planning applications are due to be submitted later this year and it is hoped to start work next year with a view to reopening the line to passengers by the end of 2021.

The project is being led by the West Midlands Rail Executive and Transport for West Midlands, part of the West Midlands Combined Authority, working in close collaboration with the Department for Transport, Network Rail, West Midlands Railway, Walsall Council and Wolverhampton Council.

Jordan Reynolds

By Jordan Reynolds
Reporter - @jreynolds_star

Senior reporter at the Express & Star.

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