Disused Black Country railway stations on track to get a new lease of life
Disused railway stations in Willenhall and Darlaston could be brought back to life as part of a major revamp of the train network in the Black Country, transport chiefs have revealed.
The plans to reopen Portobello station in Willenhall and the station in Darlaston are mentioned in the Black Country Local Enterprise Partnership's board papers.
Funding for the project, which is part of a wider plan to rejuvenate transport across the region, still needs to be secured with the plans very much in the early stages.
Previous proposals outlining plans to reopen Willenhall and Aldridge stations are also still in the pipeline.
The plans are being worked on by the Transport for West Midlands, which wants to reopen the stations as part of a wider plan to recreate a rail line between Wolverhampton and Walsall.
Councillor Roger Lawrence, the leader of the City of Wolverhampton Council, is the transport lead for the West Midlands Combined Authority.
He said: "These plans looking at reopening these stations are part of the Transport for West Midlands proposals to recreate the rail link between Wolverhampton and Walsall with intermediate stops."
Currently passengers looking to get from Wolverhampton to Walsall or vice versa on the train need to go through Birmingham.
A direct route between the two Black Country authorities exists, however it is only used for freight trains. It was open to passengers until 1965, restored in 1998, then withdrawn a decade later in 2008.
The rail station at Darlaston, previously known as Darlaston James Bridge railway station, was part of the line but closed in 1965 along with the line. Darlaston councillor Paul Bott said he would be supporting the scheme to get the station reopened. He said: "Me and Councillor Chris Bott are 100 per cent for it. I have seen it function in the past as a railway station when thousands used to use it.
"Residents will then be able to commute to Birmingham and Wolverhampton so it will be a necessity and a vital link for the West Midlands."
Portobello station served the line, but closed in 1873 due to being unprofitable.
Willenhall and Aldridge stations are also earmarked for reopening, as previously reported by the Express & Star.
The pair both shut in 1965 when the line between Wolverhampton and Walsall was closed to passengers.
During the rail line's second lease of life, both Portobello and Willenhall stations had been earmarked for reopening.
The line was struggling with a lack of visitor numbers and Centro, who were running the service, proposed reopening the two stations.
This was in 2005 but the proposals never come to fruition.
In 2008 the government withdrew funding for the line and it was closed to passengers for a second time.