TRAIN PASSENGERS at Wythall and Whitlocks End need better car parking and a faster more frequent service with Birmingham, that’s what a Midlands rail user group, the Shakespeare Line Promotion Group (SLPG), that represents rail users between Stratford upon Avon and Birmingham have said. The group have recently published results from a major online survey they organised earlier in the year with rail users and businesses taking part along the railway route.
The results showed a major need for more frequent train services at Wythall while also highlighting the need to significantly expand the car park at Whitlocks End near Dickens Heath. The group, that previously fought and saved the line from two previous closure attempts in 1969 and 1984 says local authorities and the railway sector must take on board what users are saying is needed. Fraser Pithie, Secretary of the SLPG said: “We want to see a half hourly interval service between Birmingham and Stratford upon Avon.
The second service in the hour needs to operate semi-fast between Whitlocks End and Stratford upon Avon but calling at Wythall and Henley in Arden to give both a 30 minute interval train service.”
Wythall is due to absorb considerable housing growth and SLPG have been talking to Bromsgrove District Council as part of the Council’s current planning review. SLPG have stated that housing developers around Wythall and Hollywood should be required to part fund a car park for Wythall. The group have suggested that a new car park could be constructed either adjacent to the existing Wythall station or developers could help fund and relocate to a new purpose built Wythall rail station complete with adequate car parking and bus interchange.
SLPG are also talking to Solihull Borough Council and Transport for West Midlands concerning the need to extend and double the capacity of car parking at Whitlocks End which is already the busiest unmanned railway station in the West Midlands. Fraser said “The existing car park at Whitlocks End is full before the end of the morning peak meaning that usage is being choked off and people are having to drive elsewhere or make other arrangements. Any car park extension at Whitlocks End will need a new pedestrian footbridge to enable passengers to access the station without running the gauntlet of walking over the narrow road bridge on the busy Tilehouse Lane which is currently very dangerous for pedestrians.”
SLPG have recently responded to the West Midlands Rail Executives’ Strategy that was published in October 2018 and while the group has largely welcomed the strategy, they have challenged the Executive to move much faster on train service improvements for passengers. Fraser added “What the people who use the line are requesting is understandable and very reasonable.
TFWM and local authorities need to address the need for a step change in car parking provision, this would make a significant contribution to the need to reduce emissions in Birmingham City Centre. The extension of train services to provide a half hourly interval service at Wythall and Henley in Arden does not require expensive and time consuming infrastructure works. With the Cross City line having enjoyed a 15 minute service frequency for decades we think increasing the Shakespeare line to a 30 minute interval service is long overdue and over 900 users have told us this through the surveys we ran.”