There will be two trains an hour calling at new stations when the Walsall to Wolverhampton line reopens to passenger services it has been confirmed.
West Midlands Rail Executive (WMRE) and Network Rail have agreed a timetable for services to call at the Willenhall and Darlaston stations when the line reopens.
Trains last called at Willenhall and Darlaston stations more than 50 years ago and the Walsall to Wolverhampton line has been used only by freight services since 2008.
Under the new agreement there will be:
- An hourly service between Walsall and Wolverhampton
- An hourly service between Birmingham New Street and Wolverhampton, via Tame Bridge, Darlaston and Willenhall. Created by diverting an existing Crewe to Birmingham service.
The rail service offers the people of Darlaston and Willenhall a huge 54 minute time saving on bus journeys into Birmingham city centre and a significant 15 minute saving on travelling by car.
Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands, said: “It is fantastic that agreement on services has been reached with Network Rail which shows we are making great progress on plans to get these rail stations built and the line open.
“The Walsall to Wolverhampton rail corridor is an important part of our the plans to regenerate and revitalise this area of the Black Country; acting as a catalyst to unlock swathes of land for industrial, commercial and housing development.
“Investment in transport is now even more important to our economy as we aim to bounce back from the pandemic.”
Dave Penney, Network Rail Central route director, said: “It’s exciting to be able to re-establish rail links for passengers in Willenhall and Darlaston and we have worked hard with our partners to help make it possible.
“Opening up the railway to these Black Country communities will be a key driver to the long-term regeneration of the wider region. In the short-term, I’d urge everyone to continue to follow government advice and avoid using public transport unless absolutely necessary.”
Deputy leader of Walsall Council Cllr Adrian Andrew said: "This is great news for Walsall businesses and residents and provides the connectivity we need to support and develop our local economy especially Willenhall and Darlaston."
City of Wolverhampton Council leader Cllr Ian Brookfield, added: “There are billions of pounds of investment on site or in the pipeline across the City of Wolverhampton, and improving our transport connections with all parts of the region and beyond will play a big part in how we make the most of that investment to boost our economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.
“The progress with plans for new stations at Willenhall and Darlaston follows on the back of the recent opening of phase one of Wolverhampton’s new railway station as part of our city centre Interchange, all providing further job opportunities for our residents.
“Developments like this are also critical to encouraging more future use of public transport to help support our Climate Emergency agenda.”
Planning applications for the new stations were submitted to Walsall Metropolitan Borough Council in February.
It is proposed that Willenhall Station will be sited next to the Bilston Street railway bridge close to the town centre, while Darlaston Station will be built on derelict land next to the Kendricks Road bridge.
Construction of the new stations is due to commence early next year, with the aim to have them open by the end of 2022.
The project is being led by the West Midlands Rail Executive and Transport for West Midlands (TfWM), part of the West Midlands Combined Authority, working in close collaboration with the Department for Transport, Network Rail, West Midlands Railway, Walsall Council and Wolverhampton Council.