Rail misery: Wolverhampton to Birmingham train line to close over Christmas
Rail passengers are braced for major disruption over the festive season as a train line is shut.
The route between Wolverhampton and Birmingham will be closed between Christmas Eve and January 3 for engineering works.
A ‘very limited’ service will be available via Walsall – but many passengers will have to use replacement buses instead.
Network Rail hopes to create as few problems as possible by staging the project when many people are off work.
But the closure could cause a headache for people using the rail network over Christmas and is also set to create problems for Wolves fans travelling to Molineux on New Year’s Day.
West Brom also have home fixtures on Boxing Day and December 30, meaning Baggies fans who normally get connecting trains from Birmingham New Street will have to change their plans.
Wolves welcome Brentford to Molineux on January 1, a day when there are traditionally bumper crowds at football matches.
Many supporters head into Wolverhampton from the Black Country and beyond on the train and will have to make other arrangements. While Albion host Everton on Boxing Day before a home match against Arsenal on December 30.
The job, described as major engineering work by Transport for West Midlands, is part of the latest phase of resignalling at Birmingham New Street.
A report to Sandwell Council by Transport for West Midlands said: “Major engineering work is occurring over the Christmas and New Year period as the next phases of the Birmingham New Street resignalling project are delivered.
“This project see the replacement of 50-year old equipment with new equipment controlled by the West Midlands Signalling Control Centre at Saltley, alongside the remodelling of junctions at Soho.
“This work will mean that the Birmingham to Wolverhampton line is closed with local passengers using a replacement bus service. A very limited train service using the diversionary route via Bescot will continue to operate between Wolverhampton and Birmingham.”
An alert on National Rail Enquiries said: “Network Rail are carrying out engineering work between Birmingham New Street and Wolverhampton, closing all lines.
Until Wednesday 3 January, trains will not run between Birmingham New Street and Wolverhampton.”
A Network Rail spokesperson said: “Over the Christmas period, some services in and out of Birmingham New Street station will be affected by work to replace track and signals which date back as far as the 1960s.
“They need to be replaced to safely and reliably manage the average 1,100 trains per day which use the station for many decades to come. The £246m upgrade is part of a wider £600m resignalling programme which has already seen new signalling across large parts of the West Midlands area and will eventually see signalling in Walsall and Birmingham International replaced leading to a better, more reliable railway.”
“The work taking place over Christmas will affect the route between New Street and Wolverhampton and the frequency of services running on the Cross City line. Passengers are advised to check before they travel at www.nationalrail.co.uk .”