Any developments which could impact on the future use of a former railway line in Lichfield will not be permitted under proposals due to be debated by councillors.

A level crossing on the former Lichfield to Walsall railway line. Picture: Google Streetview

The draft Local Plan 2040 document will be discussed by Lichfield District Council’s cabinet next week.

The document outlines the vision for the future of the area over the next 20 years, providing guidance on the way land is utilised going forward.

Among the items included are measures to protect the former Lichfield to Walsall railway line – despite the last passenger services running on the route more than half a century ago.

Lichfield District Council’s Local Plan 2040, if adopted, would safeguard any future possibility of reopening the route.

“As part of the drive towards sustainable transport, the district council has considered the need to protect certain infrastructure where it has the potential to help deliver tangible benefits in future, be they social, environmental or economic.

“In this respect, the plan will safeguard the Walsall to Lichfield rail line where it falls within the district boundary.

“Development proposals which would prejudice the future use of the route as a continuous sustainable transport corridor will not be permitted.

“Any future development proposals along this corridor should positively contribute to sustainable transport and not impair reinstatement, improvement or reconstruction and must retain existing associated features from its former rail use.”

Lichfield District Council’s Draft Local Plan 2040

Known as the South Staffordshire Line, the route continued to be used for freight until 1983, with some usage of the tracks as part of the former Charringtons oil depot on the A5 at Burntwood before the site closed.

The line also included a station at Hammerwich which closed when passenger services were axed in 1965 as part of the Beeching Review.

Plans have since been drawn up to convert the route into a walking and cycling path between Lichfield and Burntwood, but none have yet come to fruition.

A local musician has also used the former line as the backdrop to a music video.

Andy Starkey said:

“I chose this location as I’m hoping to restart the conversation about it getting opened to the general public again and turned into a walking route.”

Andy Starkey

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35 Comments

  1. So a derelict railway line that has rusted away for fifty years is to be ringfenced on the extremely remote possibility that it might be used again? Get real councillors. That is not going to happen. HS2 will take all the money that could have been used for this, for a start, and I cannot see a demand for it. When Derbyshire for one has converted many old railway tracks into walking and cycling routes, can the council here not use a bit more imagination? Oh sorry, I was being a bit silly suggesting this.

  2. There has always been a plan to convert this to a walking /cycling route, indeed past councillors know of this, and Doug Pullen for one was supposed to have walked this route to the canal – a task I undertook some 2 summers ago (sneakily). It will need about £1.5m I suspect, given the state of it, though. I made the mistake of wearing shorts, as it was a hot day. Should’ve dressed for the Amazonian conditions in the cuttings.

  3. I would have thought there was more mileage (no pun in evidence) in regenerating this line as a leisure route for walkers and cyclists. The old Derbyshire lines are excellent and bring in a lot of visitors too. I cannot see the funding exists to re-open this as a railway line, But as the Government turns its attention to “recovery” funding for a project that aims to boost the health and well-being of people would likely find more traction.

  4. I think this is a responsible attitude towards people who live by the line and towards future proposals regarding re introducing it a a viable transport link any works that happens could end up being reversed by the powers that be

  5. The signal box by the level crossing is the only one of 3 with that type of frame and dates back to the 1800’s. It needs some sort of protection before it falls down completely

  6. John Allen, how would you know there’s no demand for it? A walking and cycling route from Lichfield to Walsall would be fabulous and would be extremely popular. The Tissington trail in Ashbourne is a very successful off road route that was a railway.

  7. I think you have misunderstood my post P Destrian. I would certainly be in favour of a walking and cycling route, that is why I made the comparison to Derbyshire.

  8. Many freight trains that could use this route currently travel many extra miles, so there is a fuel and emissions saving if it were to be reinstated, as well as the potential for passenger services.

  9. As a retired train driver of 3 years now and living in Burntwood i have walked the trackbed from Lichfield to Ryecroft and all for Reopening of old lines But this would be a Mammoth task and im not sure if it would be possible all the way But what about as a Single track

  10. Yes indeed. A fully integrated modern railway infrastructure used by the ordinary person who will be the ones to bring back life to our towns and cities whilst reducing the need to use cars thereby saving the cost of road upkeep and repairs. At the same time acting to reduce pollution would surely have been possible. If it were not for the white elephant of that project beginning with a great big H. Admit it we have been sold down the river by the sleight of hand, smoke and mirrors of snake oils salesmen. Anyway in my humble opinion a walking and cycling route would not only be a viable option but would also be enjoyable combining all the benefits that arise from a healthy outdoor lifestyle that such a project would provide.

  11. Sensible policy. When the M6 Toll was built, great expense was put into a bridge across the this line rather than an at-grade crossing to one day enable reopening, so makes sense to keep the option open. If the line north to Derby was also reopened to passengers, which would be much more straightforward, then that would transform local rail connectivity. As well as HS2, the government is investigating opening a number of lines through it’s ‘reversing Beeching’ fund, so it isn’t one or the other. This line isn’t nominated for that fund at present, but there are groups lobbying.

  12. As part of the line falls outside of Lichfields jurisdiction what will they do if other developments take place? Have they no imagination? Will there ever be a sustainable traffic flow between Lichfield and Walsall? Almost certainly no; making a new rail line very unlikely.
    As a pleasure facility it might work. Tissington and High Peak rely on bicycle hire, cafes etc. I have walked many old rail routes and they are good.
    Anything but new houses….Please !

  13. I understand that the same line north of Lichfield to Burton is planned to re-open with a new station at Alrewas, already has a name, The Arboretum Line. This could stimulate interest in a through line Burton-Lichfield-Walsall. With this in mind it makes sense to safeguard the existing route.

  14. Build it and they will come. It would be used by walkers, leisure and commuter cyclists and plenty more. It should be easy to get this done quickly with the track and route already there.

  15. I have been working on the Walsall to Brownhills section for 4 years now under the remit of Sustrans and Railway Paths who actually hold the freehold of this section. Last January we opened steps to link with the canal towpath leading to Chasewater. Since then the footfall has increased dramatically with walking and cycling groups using it regularly along with many locals. Last June we did a survey near Pelsall and between 10am and 4 pm we logged 331 user 142 being cyclists. Many stopped for a chat and nearly all asked if we were going to carry on to Lichfield. We told them to be patient. If this comes to fruition it will be one the best and busiest Greenways in the Uk. Check us out.

  16. Seeing as Walsall now seems to be rife with super Covid, shouldn’t we be ensuring that any routes to Walsall get closed off? Mind you I’ve been of that opinion long before Covid turned up. Working in Walsall for a number of years will do that for you.

  17. Well reusing it as a walking and cycling route might go some way in compensating for the complete lack of new cycle paths in this district, which is in stark contrast to the efforts made in other areas. Just remember to take the tracks up first, although cyclists are used to riding on bad surfaces in this area!

  18. It’s a shame what has happened to Walsall. Quite honestly I just cannot believe it. It was ‘the’ place to visit. If only for it’s wonderful market at the top of the town near St Matthews Church, nearby Sainsbury’s and the art college and one of the first and best whole earth food shops close by. Truth. That and the wonderful Arboretum. Long time ago now people from all around used to visit Walsall for the market. I know because they told me so. I cannot believe what has happened to the town. It is so disheartening. I guess there must be those who for whatever reason want to destroy it. But hey! Take care. For a link with Walsall, which used to be in Staffordshire County I might add, might help Lichfield too, both rising from the ashes to their new potential. According to the plaque by Minster Pool, in years gone by Lichfield once also helped Wednesbury, again a town once part of the beautiful wild, rugged natural in the county of Staffordshire. When the plague hit Wednesbury because of industrial pollution there, Lichfield aided the Wednesbury community with fresh, clean drinking water. What a charitable gesture. Seems a similar situation has arisen in today’s world, regarding toxic pollution of the Midlands, motorway ridden. Perhaps all these towns should stick together once again proving the maxim, charity rewards itself in the long term. As a former resident of Wednesbury born and brought up there, I want to thank Lichfield. I am grateful for the help my forebears received from such a generous gesture.

  19. Turning the route into a Greenway between Walsall and Lichfield was a great idea 20 years ago and is still a great idea now. A traffic free route would be excellent, the cost would be small in the scheme of things and largely offset by the physical and financial benefits it would bring. Getting more people active and outdoors is a no-brainer. Shame it’s all taking sooooo long!

  20. @Brian Stringer, It would be an amazing ride or walk. Do you have any (even vague) timescale for when this could happen?

  21. Unless you haven’t noticed Railtrack have fenced off the Access at wall lane and Fossway lane putting noticies up about trespass on Railtrack property.

  22. Fences have been up and down like (insert metaphors here). that’s why I didn’t walk it earlier, temporary fencing then moved. The walk by Pullen (if it occurred) was publicised BTW.
    How much of the surrounding land is rail-owned? Just wondering re development.

  23. I live in kidderminster but spend much time in lichfield.some of our rail tracks were shutdown,but local people have opened it up as severn valley railway which is profitable ,picturesque and uses some lovely old engines and very good for the community.

  24. John it does not look very temporary to me,they even went to the trouble of cutting a section of rail out to install the fences

  25. The railway line from Lichfield to Anglesey Sidings just short of the LDC boundary is singled and out of use. It is not closed. It cannot be converted to a path. Instead the path should be on the adjacent canal bed where the towpath was and the canal should be reopened. In the longer term the railway should be reopened to Walsall and that bit of the Draft Local Plan 2040 should be supported.

  26. Hi Tony,
    When you say it “cannot be converted to a path”, how so? Is there some law that says so, or a covenant on the land?

    I’m interested because old lines like that one have been made into green routes all over the UK.

  27. Agree fully that the trackbed of this railway route remains fully protected, as was decided back in the mid 1980s when closure occurred. Walsall is poorly served enough by transport links, especially for a population of some 300,000, while the likes of Brownhills and Burntwood have to make do with local bus services. Regeneration is needed and this can’t be achieved by the building of new motorways through the area and town centres ( does anyone really want more tarmac and pollution?!)

    Further, a Lichfield to Walsall link joins up well with existing lines towards the East Midlands (please note that the Lichfield to Burton section could well reopen to passenger trains, besides its current freight usage). Also, it would help with trains coming from the west and considerably reduce certain existing freight train mileage overall mileage.

  28. Although services on the Walsall – Lichfield section of the railway line finished in the 1990’s the line is not closed, as evidenced by the railway bridge that was erected when the section of the Lichfield By Pass was built. At present part of the line remains a single track and is out of use. But it is not closed.

    Eventually railway services should be restored which will serve Burntwood and help local commuting. West Midlands Rail Executive is pressing on with renewing railway services between Wolverhampton and Walsall which, if extended to Lichfield would provide part of a route for travel to and from these major centres, and would continue to the Arboretum, Burton, Derby and the north, all by avoiding the congestion at New Street. More visitors would be attracted to Lichfield without worrying about parking spaces or charges.

    The Lichfield District Strategic Plan includes a commitment to see Lichfield as a transport interchange so it is right for the Council to protect this section of railway from development in the immediate future and that nothing is done to make reopening more difficult or block the line. The Council could go further – between Chesterfield Road and Fosseway Lane the old canal runs parallel to the railway line and a popular walking route has been established; the path could be extended alongside the length of the continuing canal restoration works; the signal box at Fosseway Crossing should be preserved as a distinctive, visible landmark, probably by finding a use for it , perhaps as a public information point. The Council could initiate support for these improvements.

  29. As a Hammerwich resident I am aware that there is plenty of support for a rail service with a local station, which could be provided on the old Charrington’s site to serve the Burntwood area. I would expect the main traffic flows would be from Burntwood and Brownhills to Birmingham,at the moment this traffic is almost totally car based with little viable public transport, should congestion charging come into being in Birmingham or parts of the West Midlands non rail served communities such as Burntwood will be the big losers, and still paying taxes to support six stations with six trains an hour in Sutton Coldfield. Burntwood is closer to Birmingham via Walsall by rail than Lichfield is via Sutton so commuting from Burntwood should be both cheaper and quicker. There would be the added bonus of a ten minute journey to Walsall and good connections to Wolverhampton , Shropshire or even a day out at Aberystwyth. Converting it to a footpath would suit developers who see Hammerwich Green Belt as a juicy target and unlike the railway well within what they could afford, those that want a footpath should help with redeveloping the canal whose project is more beneficial for wildlife and the towpath as good or better for human recreation and support the Railway in addressing matters a footpath doesn’t.

  30. reopening the vital walsall to lichfield rail line would provide help in reducing the traffic problems and help with connectivity to Birmingham and further afield

  31. About time more lines were open, the Walsall to Lichfield would do wonders for freight as well as passenger services. Theirs talk of opening Walsall to Castle Bromwich & then onto Birmingham would make a good circle route.

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