|Termini||Lichfield Trent Valley|
|Type||Heavy rail, Suburban rail|
|Operator(s)||West Midlands Trains|
|Rolling stock||Class 323|
|Line length||32 miles (51 km)|
|Number of tracks||One – Two|
|Track gauge||4 ft 8+1⁄2 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge|
|Electrification||25 kV AC OHLE|
The Cross-City Line is a commuter rail line in the West Midlands region of England. It runs for 32 miles (51 km) from Redditch, and Bromsgrove in Worcestershire, its two southern termini, to Lichfield, Staffordshire, its northern terminus, via Birmingham New Street, connecting the suburbs of Birmingham in between. Services are operated by West Midlands Trains.
Cross-City Line services began in 1978, as a project of the West Midlands Passenger Transport Executive (WMPTE) to improve local rail services. It made use of pre-existing railways lines, which previously did not have any through services. Services were extended to Redditch in 1980, and to Lichfield Trent Valley in 1988. The route was electrified in 1993. In 2018 services were extended to Bromsgrove, which was added as a second southern terminus.
What is now the Cross-City Line was not built as a single route; it is a combination of lines opened by different companies at different times, between 1837 and 1885.
On the northern half of the route (Birmingham–Lichfield):
On the southern half of the route (Birmingham–Redditch):
These lines from Birmingham to Barnt Green and Redditch were operated by the Midland Railway and the line to Lichfield was operated by the London and North Western Railway, so there were no through services. This continued despite the Grouping of the LNW and Midland Railways to form the London Midland and Scottish Railway in 1921, and subsequent nationalisation to form British Railways.
Prior to the creation of the Cross-City Line, the northern half of the route from New Street to Sutton Coldfield and Lichfield had a well used regular suburban service, which had been switched from steam to diesel multiple unit (DMU) operation in 1956, leading to a large increase in usage. However, the southern half of the route from New Street to Redditch was a different matter: In 1964, the closure of all the stations between New Street and Redditch (along with the branch to Redditch) was proposed by the Beeching Axe. They were reprieved from closure in 1967, however the service was cut back to a handful of trains at peak times for commuters.
In the early-1970s the West Midlands Passenger Transport Executive (WMPTE) gained responsibility for managing and planning the local railway network in the West Midlands, and they set about looking for ways it could be improved: The WMPTE Passenger Transport Plan of 1972 recognised the need for a cross-city rail service, and especially an improved service to the south of Birmingham with new stations to serve the growth areas in the south of the city.
The Cross City Line project was sanctioned by the WMPTE in May 1975 and launched on 8 May 1978. Costing £7.4 million (equivalent to £62,530,000 in 2019), it involved joining the services into Birmingham from north and south into a single through service, along with the re-opening of Five Ways station (the original had closed in the 1944 as an wartime economy measure) and new stations to serve the University of Birmingham and Longbridge (the former station at Longbridge was on the branch line to Halesowen and Old Hill). Most of the other stations on the southern half of the route were rebuilt at the same time, and improvements were made to signalling and junctions. Of the new stations, the only one to be officially opened was University, which the then Secretary of State for Transport Bill Rodgers MP formally opened on 8 May 1978. There is a plaque on platform 2 marking this occasion.
Services initially ran on a 15-minute frequency between Longbridge and Four Oaks via Birmingham New Street, with an hourly extension to Lichfield City, using refurbished Class 116 Diesel Multiple Units. The new service was an instant success, and by the end of the first year was carrying 30,000 passengers daily.
Services were extended to Redditch in 1980, initially on an hourly frequency, increased to half-hourly in 1989. The service to Lichfield City was increased to half hourly in 1986, and on 28 November 1988, some services were extended to terminate at the re-opened high level platforms of Lichfield Trent Valley.
By the late-1980s, the elderly diesels operating the service were becoming increasingly unreliable, and the WMPTE (now re-branded as Centro) pressed for electrification. The decision to electrify the line was made on 7 February 1990 by the then Transport Minister Cecil Parkinson during the campaign for a by-election in the Mid Staffordshire constituency.
Work started on electrifying the route with the 25 kV AC overhead line system in May 1990, and it was completed on 6 June 1993. Redditch, Alvechurch, and Blake Street stations were rebuilt at this time, and several other stations including Barnt Green were extensively modified to accommodate the new longer electric trains. The signalling was also modernised at the same time as the electrification, as part of a parallel scheme. A new fleet of Class 323 Electric Multiple Units were introduced to work the electrified line, and replace the elderly diesels. Full service with the Class 323s did not begin until 1994, due to initial reliability problems with the new units. Some elderly Class 304, Class 308 and Class 310 EMUs were drafted in to operate services in the interim, along with some of the original diesel units.
The cost of the electrification scheme was estimated at £64.5 million (equivalent to £132,350,000 in 2019), of which around 70% was funded by Centro, and the remainder by the Regional Railways sector of British Rail.
At Selly Oak, a new bridge was constructed in 2011 to carry the canal over a new section of the A38.
The single track between Barnt Green and Redditch restricted the number of trains that could run to Redditch to two per hour. In November 2013 a scheme was approved to construct a new passing loop at Alvechurch to allow the service to be increased to three trains per hour. The line between Barnt Green and Redditch was closed for eight weeks for the works to be carried out, and was reopened on 1 September 2014. The improved service began in December 2014.
Electrification was also extended from Barnt Green to Bromsgrove station, which was rebuilt in 2016 and was added as a second southern terminus once electrification was completed in August 2018. These changes allow three trains per hour to run to both Redditch and Bromsgrove.
Three of the ten new Class 350 trains that London Midland introduced in 2014 have displaced Class 323s on other routes in the West Midlands to enable an increase in service frequency and capacity between Longbridge and Redditch, and the extension of all remaining Longbridge trains to Bromsgrove once electrification is complete. Class 350s are not currently authorised to be used on the Cross City Line.
During Monday to Saturday daytimes, on the core section of the line between Four Oaks and Longbridge, six trains per-hour operate each way, giving a ten-minute frequency of service. Of these, four northbound trains per hour continue from Four Oaks to Lichfield City, and two of these continue to Lichfield Trent Valley. Southbound three trains per hour continue from Longbridge to Redditch.
In detail the service consists of:
The southern half of the Cross-City line also forms part of the Cross Country Route, and some longer distance services stop at University station, including CrossCountry trains to Cardiff and West Midland Railway services to Hereford.
There are long-standing proposals for the re-introduction of local trains on the Camp Hill Line (effectively a loop between Birmingham New Street and King's Norton).
As part of the new West Midlands Trains franchise, the Class 323 units will be replaced by Aventras.
In October 2018, as part of a 30-year strategy of Transport in the West Midlands several proposals were put forward. By 2034, there would be longer trains, electrification of the line from Lichfield Trent Valley to Burton-on-Trent allowing 2 services per hour to be extended to Burton-on-Trent via a newly reopened Alrewas. Beyond 2034, it was proposed that new semi-fast service could serve more larger stations.
There is also a single tracked mothballed line to the former Angelsea Sidings which was in use until 2001. The line remains in situ but rusty beyond repair. There is a possibility that the line which connected to Walsall from Lichfield via Brownhills and Pelsall could reopen as Mayor of the West Midlands Andy Street promised to look and make the reopening of the line feasible. West Midlands Combined Authority also released a plan for the line as part of a 10-year transport plan called the 2026 Delivery for Transport.
In 2016-17 the Cross-City Line's 24 stations (excluding New Street) had combined passenger numbers of 22.59 million, a substantial increase on the 2015 figure of 19.95 million and the 2006 figure of 8.5 million. The busiest station on the route besides Birmingham New Street is University, with nearly three million passenger entries and exits, and the least busy station is Alvechurch with around 145,000 passenger entries and exits.
|Lichfield Trent Valley to Birmingham New Street|
|Lichfield Trent Valley||0.187||0.222||0.231||0.248||0.704||0.743||0.821||0.899||0.912||0.969||0.982||1.064||1.101||1.093||1.094 million|
|Lichfield City||0.579||0.590||0.608||0.636||0.561||0.624||0.607||0.621||0.638||0.643||0.685||0.680||0.712||0.798||0.862 million|
|Blake Street||0.168||0.172||0.176||0.184||0.339||0.332||0.326||0.313||0.307||0.338||0.344||0.378||0.380||0.382||0.435 million|
|Butlers Lane||0.092||0.093||0.096||0.103||0.197||0.193||0.186||0.189||0.186||0.202||0.206||0.222||0.230||0.232||0.254 million|
|Four Oaks||0.225||0.235||0.251||0.277||0.538||0.541||0.548||0.581||0.585||0.623||0.640||0.701||0.750||0.750||0.823 million|
|Sutton Coldfield||0.512||0.542||0.578||0.634||1.183||1.185||1.185||1.377||1.368||1.429||1.475||1.573||1.609||1.624||1.776 million|
|Wylde Green||0.199||0.212||0.224||0.435||0.435||0.441||0.439||0.488||0.493||0.522||0.537||0.586||0.606||0.619||0.678 million|
|Chester Road||0.245||0.251||0.267||0.296||0.537||0.564||0.598||0.748||0.763||0.799||0.816||0.882||0.909||0.925||1.048 million|
|Gravelly Hill||0.166||0.183||0.200||0.231||0.404||0.403||0.402||0.636||0.631||0.684||0.684||0.736||0.769||0.772||0.908 million|
|Birmingham New Street||16.244||17.303||14.525||17.007||25.192||25.268||24.687||31.213||32.090||34.748||35.313||39.077||42.367||44.380||47.928 million|
|Birmingham New Street to Redditch|
|Five Ways||0.450||0.480||0.514||0.564||0.990||1.043||1.050||1.345||1.350||1.447||1.453||1.586||1.661||1.776||2.301 million|
|University (Birmingham)||0.968||1.061||1.191||1.251||1.978||2.063||2.158||2.595||2.636||2.845||2.977||3.206||3.384||3.475||3.970 million|
|Selly Oak||0.800||0.897||1.024||1.113||1.578||1.598||1.569||2.270||2.278||2.407||2.433||2.671||2.805||2.848||3.296 million|
|Kings Norton||0.366||0.407||0.447||0.481||0.812||0.785||0.793||1.102||1.092||1.142||1.146||1.237||1.290||1.317||1.509 million|
|Barnt Green||0.128||0.154||0.160||0.171||0.217||0.221||0.231||0.256||0.249||0.260||0.251||0.270||0.285||0.303||0.305 million|
|The annual passenger usage is based on sales of tickets in stated financial years from Office of Rail and Road estimates of station usage. The statistics are for passengers arriving and departing from each station and cover twelve-month periods that start in April. Methodology may vary year on year. Barking and Blackhorse Road are affected by usage of the ticket gates for the Underground and that Gospel Oak connects to the North London Line section of the London Overground and is similarly affected. Barking is further affected by the ticket gates used to access C2C services.|
The railway stations and cities, towns and villages served by the line are listed below.
A large stretch of the northern part of the line closely follows the A5127 road.