Reopening of Darlaston and Willenhall train stations moves closer

A bid to reopen two railway stations after more than half a century has taken a major step forward after planning applications were formally submitted.

How a reopened Darlaston station could look
How a reopened Darlaston station could look

The two stations are due to relaunch under proposals to bring the Wolverhampton to Walsall line back to life and construction could start as early as next year.

The original stations in Darlaston and Willenhall closed in 1965 and only through trains have used the line since then.

The project is being led by Transport for West Midlands, part of the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) and the West Midlands Rail Executive.

The planning applications have been submitted to Walsall Council.

Local leaders have said the project will make a “big difference” to people living in the area.

Walsall North MP Eddie Hughes said: “I think the stations will have an incredibly positive impact on the area, as they will give local people access to opportunities around a better-connected West Midlands, enabling them to commute more easily.

“I’m delighted that the planning applications have now been submitted, and I’m particularly excited about a station reopening 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.”

Darlaston’s first railway station opened in 1837, while Willenhall’s original station, which was called Willenhall Market Place, first opened in 1872 but closed to passengers in 1931.

Both stations shut in 1965 under the nationwide ‘Beeching’ cuts. Passenger services returned to Darlaston in 1998 but stopped again a decade later due to lack of use.

The Willenhall station will be based next to the Bilston Street railway bridge in the town centre while the Darlaston station will be built on derelict land next to the Kendricks Road bridge.

Seven acres of land in Cemetery Road, Darlaston have now been purchased – ready for the new station.

Both new stations will have two platforms, big enough to accommodate six-carriage trains, as well a pedestrian footbridge, stairs, lifts, ticket machines and drop-off areas. There will be a 300-space car park at Darlaston and 150 spaces at Willenhall, and also cycle storage racks and shelters for waiting passengers.

Walsall councillors will consider the planning applications in the coming weeks – and it is hoped construction work will begin at the start of next year, with the line open by the end of 2021.

The aim is to start with an hourly service between Walsall and Wolverhampton and another hourly service between Birmingham and Wolverhampton calling at Tame Bridge, Darlaston and Willenhall.

West Midlands Mayor Andy Street said: “I am delighted that our plans to reopen Darlaston and Willenhall stations has moved another significant step closer with the submission of these planning applications.

“These Black Country communities deserve access to easier and faster rail connections to Wolverhampton, Walsall and Birmingham and the wider transport network. The new stations will also help to drive significant investment in jobs and housing along the Walsall to Wolverhampton corridor.

"I look forward to seeing the plans evolve and progress as we gear up for construction on site next year."

Councillor Ian Ward, leader of Birmingham City Council and WMCA portfolio holder for transport said: “These Black Country stations are just one part of our plans to transform rail service and public transport across the West Midlands.

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

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