The Anonymous Widower

Birmingham’s Four-Poster Station

When I put forward the concept of a Four Poster Station, I was kite flying and didn’t know one had already been built.

Smethwick Galton Bridge station has been built where the electrified New Street to Wolverhampton Line crosses the Snow Hill to Worcester Line. This is a Google Map of the station.

Smethwick Galton Bridge Station

Smethwick Galton Bridge Station

Note the pyramids on top of each of the four lifts.

New Street is towards the South East, with Wolverhampton to the North West.

Worcester is to the South West with Snow Hill to the North East

I just had to go and see the station and took these pictures.

Considering it was opened in 1995, it was pretty radical for the time.

But it seemed to be working well, when I saw the station in the middle of the rush hour.

I do think, if they were building a station like this today, the various platforms and walkways would be made wider and if one was on the London Overground, they would leave spaces to put coffee stalls, passenger shelters and staff refuges. It probably illustrates how much more people friendly new stations are compared with twenty years ago.

I have a feeling that the design principles used here might be used at Brockley, Brixton and Penge.

But how many other places in the UK and perhaps the wider world could copy the basically simple design principles used here in Smethwick.



August 5, 2015 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | 7 Comments

Lichfield Trent Valley Station

I went to Birmingham via Lichfield Trent Valley station using London Midland, paying just £13.20 for the First Class ticket to Lichfield.

It is an unusual station with two platforms on the West Coast Main Line and a third at right-angles on the Cross-City Line. This Google Map shows the station layout.

Lichfield Trent Valley Station

Lichfield Trent Valley Station

These are some pictures of the station.

My only problem with the station was that there were no staff to ask about buying the West Midlands Ranger ticket, I needed to continue my journey.

Lichfield Trent Valley station is on the South Staffordshire Line, and is on one the few sections of the line that still has a passenger service. On investigating further I found this description of the line’s state today on Wikipedia. This is the first two paragraphs.

Very little of the South Staffordshire line is used today, although Lichfield City and the connection to Lichfield Trent Valley high-level remain as part of London Midland’s Cross-City Service to Redditch via Birmingham New Street. Freight usage on the OW&WR portion of the route has once again become more common thanks to the Round Oak Steel Terminal.

In terms of infrastructure, nearly all of the trackbed still remains, and indeed so does much of the track. The closed section South Staffordshire line has gradually fallen into disrepair over the last decade or so, with much of the trackbed heavily overgrown – in some areas almost totally concealed by vegetation.

So we have a railway across the West Midlands from Lichfield to Stourbridge, that has been mothballed and left in a state to be rebuilt, if the need should arise.

As to the future of the South Staffordshire Line, Wikipedia has a long section on its Future.

It would appear that Westfield, who own the Merry Hills Shopping Centre, even offered funds to help with some reopening. As two of their centres in London have excellent rail and Underground connections, they must know the value of such a link.

The line is also part of plans to build an extension of the Midland Metro from Wednesbury to Merry Hill. This could use tram-trains, as Network Rail would like to use the line for freight. As with many rail lines in the country, freight is often there to provide reasons for rebuilding or reopening.

I also found a report on the BBC, which led to this post about a Very Light Rail Innovation Centre at Dudley.

The line also goes through Walsall, where it links to the Chase Line to Rugeley Trent Valley, that is being electrified, and to the Sutton Park Line, that the Local Authorities want to reopen.

So many diverse plans!

Isn’t it a pity, that the Varsity Line from Oxford to Cambridge or the Waverley Route from Carlisle to Edinburgh, weren’t closed in a similar way to the South Staffordshire Line. Removing the track and turning the line into a long-distance walking or cycling path, is surely another alternative and much more beneficial to the community, than digging it up to build housing or a new road.

I think the only certainty about the South Staffordshire Line is that those enterprising Brummies, will find a better use for the line than growing weeds.



August 5, 2015 Posted by | Transport | , | Leave a comment

Could The Various Lines At Brixton Be Connected?

In their Transport Infrastructure Plan for 2050, Transport for London are proposing a Brixton High Level station.

As they have also proposed interchanges at also Brockley and Penge in the plan, I suspect they have found expertise and equipment to create multi-level stations, where lines cross, in an affordable manner.

The problem at Brixton is best explained in this Google Map.

Brixston Station

Brixston Station

The line across the middle of the map carries Overground services to and from the terminus at Clapham Junction, whereas the two merged lines go off roughly north-westerly towards Victoria. The southerly of the branches goes south towards Herne Hill, whilst the northernly branch going towards Loughborough Junction. This schematic from Wikipedia may explain it better.

Lines Through Brixton

Lines Through Brixton

The Overground, Thameslink and the Victoria Line are shown in orange, pink and blue respectively.

The only conclusion that is worth saying is that it’s all very complicated. The big advantage that they now have compared to a few years ago, is that much better 3D design software is available.

In TfL’s plan a rough estimate of £25million is given for each of these interchange stations. Some will cost less and some will cost more.

I think Brixton will not be one of the more affordable stations, although it could be one with a high return.

There are various options for connections at Brixton and TfL will probably limit the interchanges to the ones that are most used.

For instance, would there be much point in linking the Victoria Line to the services between Victoria and Orpington, as they both serve Victoria?

Also, as after this summer, the big constraint on frequency on the Victoria Line will be the reversing of trains at Brixton.  Under Future Projects for the Victoria Line, Wikipedia says this.

For many years there have been proposals to extend the line one stop southwards from Brixton to Herne Hill. Herne Hill station would be on a large reversing loop with one platform. This would remove a critical capacity restriction by eliminating the need for trains to reverse at Brixton. The Mayor of London’s 2020 Vision, published in 2013, proposed extending the Victoria line “out beyond Brixton” by 2030.

I would suspect this will be done in the near future, as it both increases Victoria Line capacity and it gives an alternative link between the Victoria Line and services between Victoria and Orpington.

Brixton Underground station has recently been refurbished and is pretty-much step-free from the street.

So it would appear that substantial improvement at Brixton could be achieved by creating a High Level station linking the various lines together and perhaps using an iconic lift tower to the ground.

Brixton needs an iconic creation to go with the vibrancy of the area, that doesn’t destroy everything. This could be the High Level station. Having seen the way that the walkway was threaded through at Hackney, I think there are at least one set of engineers and architects up to the challenge.

Brixton doesn’t need a boring station, but one that is exciting, bold and supremely practical for passengers and staff.




August 5, 2015 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | 5 Comments