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Boost For Rail Services To Stratford?

Major work outside Stratford rail station could see the number of commuter and vintage train journeys increasing to the tourist venue.

Shakespeare ExpressThe town could be getting a new steam rail depot and engineering works to upgrade the line that would boost the number the services.

Plans are afoot for new works by the station that stands at the end of a branch line running from Solihull and Birmingham, with a link to Leamington and Warwick.

Vintage Trains runs two trips each Sunday with a Great Western steam train. The Shakespeare Express 460-passenger train (pictured above) runs from Birmingham to Stratford for a £15 return trip. It was in service from the 1930s to the 1960s.

But the company cannot offer more services until the improvement works are made to increase capacity.

A new depot at Stratford is being considered by Railtrack (that owns the signals and tracks), local councils and the Birmingham Railway Museum based up the line at Tyseley.

Bernard Wright, Finance director at the museum, explained:

“We have been looking at this idea for some time. We are all working together and it could be open by 2003, but there is some way to go yet.

“The council has been looking at a new road layout in Stratford and we think that is sorted now.

“We would all like to see the number of trains into Stratford increased and Central Trains wants to operate a half-hourly service.

“Railtrack are involved to a significant degree, and really until there are on side there is not much we can do. We cannot really go around messing with their track!

“One of the problems is that the signalling on the line is very old, with old signal boxes in use, limiting the number of trains that can use the line. But in a way, it can also be part of the charm.”

There are no signal boxes between Shirley and Bearley. When one train is on that section, no other trains can go into that stretch until the first train has left.

Central Trains runs frequent services to Birmingham and Leamington, while Thames Trains has four services a day to Paddington.

There is a scheme to improve the layout at Stratford. There are three platforms but there can be problem getting trains in

There is no turntable at Stratford, and also a water hydrant is needed for steam services. 

The Flying Scotsman went to Stratford last year and more vintage trains could visit the town if there were better facilities for them.

It is not known whether the public would able to visit the new Stratford depot, because of health and safety issues.

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CWN / Politics / Warwickshire County Council / 21 Jul 00

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