chaos as charter train blocks old hill bank
The Stourbridge line suffered a day of cancellations and delays after a charter service from Newport to Scarborough broke down on Old Hill Bank on 21 April. The train had picked up passengers at Stourbridge Junction at 07:51 but was struggling when it passed Cradley Heath station at 07:59 before grinding to a halt between Cradley Heath and Old Hill. What made the situation worse was that it took 3½ hours for a rescue engine to arrive and move the stricken train. As a result, no trains ran from Stourbridge Junction to Birmingham from 07:35 until 11:57, a gap of 4 hours and 22 minutes. In the opposite direction, only 3 trains operated south of Stourbridge Junction to Kidderminster and Worcester between 08:00 and 12:00.
This was on a warm, sunny Saturday when many people probably intended to spend the day in Birmingham or Worcester, or have a day trip to Stratford-upon-Avon (top left) or the Severn Valley Railway (bottom left). In addition, West Bromwich Albion kicked off against Liverpool at 12:30, with fans from the Stourbridge direction unable to get to the ground by train as only three trains from that direction (2 from Langley Green and 1 from Rowley Regis) stopped at The Hawthorns. Things were only slightly better from Birmingham with 7 services stopping at the station during the morning. In fact, football fans were at Stourbridge Bus Station as early as 09:00 and were completely lost with no idea on how they would get to the ground by bus.
Much of the blame must be placed on whoever was responsible for moving the broken down train. SLUG understands that the replacement locomotive came from Lawley Street in Birmingham, so for it to take 3½ hours is unacceptable, and somebody’s head should be on the chopping block for that. Questions have also been asked by passengers as to whether West Midlands Railway and Network Rail could have done more to reduce the misery and inconvenience that they suffered. However, words of praise must go to the Pre Metro Operations staff who man the Stourbridge Town car. They correctly told would be passengers at Stourbridge Town that no trains were moving from Stourbridge Junction and that their rail tickets were acceptable on local bus services.
SLUG has collated the data of cancelled and altered train services and this may be viewed by clicking on the button below. SLUG will be presenting this data to West Midlands Railway (as the train operator) and West Midlands Rail (as the joint owner of the franchise) and asking them to liaise with Network Rail and provide answers that will ensure that any future blockage does not affect Stourbridge line passengers as significantly as the one did on 21 April.
22 april 2018