The work of over 60 volunteers at stations along the route between Birmingham and Stratford upon Avon, the railway known as 'The Shakespeare Line' is being transformed. Colourful displays of plants are already visible with local information boards, detailing the many 'little gems' for visitors to explore locally, and poetry are also soon to be installed at every station.
One of Tyseley’s locomotives is the GWR built Castle Class '5043 Earl of Mount Edgcumbe', seen here passing Leamington Spa with a charter train for London in 2013.
Now Tyseley based Vintage Trains have announced an unprecedented programme of steam-hauled trains that will travel the route between Birmingham and Stratford upon Avon this summer. People will be able to enjoy the ex GWR line while being hauled by classic Great Western Railway steam locomotives that used to race along the same metals until the mid-1960s when steam locomotives were withdrawn by the then British Rail.
For the first time, four Saturday trains will operate out and back along the Shakespeare Line via Henley-in-Arden. On selected Saturday evenings, the theme will be Murder on the Shakespeare Express, to include fine dining. An afternoon Mad Hatters Tea Party will also run for the children. Timings and prices for these trains will be announced later by the operator Vintage Trains.
Trains start at Birmingham Snow Hill and will call at Moor Street, Tyseley and, on the outward journey to Stratford upon Avon, at Henley-in-Arden.
The 'Shakespeare Express' will start running on thirteen dates (nine consecutive summer Sundays from July 18th), offering its well-proven formula Warwickshire scenery through the window with choices of excellent value breakfast, traditional Sunday lunch or pub-style Sunday lunch and afternoon tea options. An 'Enthusiast Train Ride – day out in Stratford' special fare will also be available.
On the 'Shakespeare Express' return journey from Stratford upon Avon to Birmingham, the train will travel at speeds up to 75mph via Dorridge and Solihull, non-stop to Tyseley, giving passengers the experience of steam-hauled express services of the 1950s' and 60s'
The Friends of the Shakespeare Line (FoSL), a voluntary Community Station Partnership, manages the volunteers along the route and provides funding for their activities. One of FoSL's Trustees, Fraser Pithie, says, "All the volunteers have worked hard over the past 12 months to start the transformation of their stations. As a result, we are playing an active part in attracting visitors to our area while encouraging more local people to use their railway station and train service. The steam hauled services that Vintage Trains are running along our line this summer will give local people the chance to sample train travel with atmosphere, and we hope many people and families come along and do so".
Full details and ticket prices are available at VintageTrains.co.uk.