Options for the future of a former railway line are being explored, the leader of Lichfield District Council has said.

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

The Lichfield to Walsall line has not carried passengers since 1965, but the local authority’s draft Local Plan 2040 is aiming to restrict any developments which could prevent it being returned to use in the future.

Cllr Doug Pullen, leader of Lichfield District Council, said discussions were taking place over the long-term future of the South Staffordshire Line in the area.

Doug Pullen

“This transport corridor has so much potential.

“I’d love to see this opened up as as walkway or cycleway.

“Lichfield District Council is exploring opportunities with Network Rail as to what that might look like in terms of a legal arrangement – if it is possible, we will make it so.”

Cllr Doug Pullen, Lichfield District Council

Known as the South Staffordshire Line, the route was 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 that site closed.

The draft Local Plan 2040 will be discussed by the council’s cabinet this evening (9th February).

The document said preserving the route was key.

“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

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42 Comments

  1. Reopen it to railway use. Sick of these turn it into a greenway blah blah yet the rails are down. Why lift them to then relay them again? It would be well used now instead of the magic year of 2040. No wonder rail ambitions in these parts is a joke.

  2. Open it for a train line to give local people better public transport links , like the Rugeley Birmingham line

  3. There’s a good service into Birmingham from Lichfield, but if you want to goto Derby, Nottingham or Burton it’s a big detour, the route between trent Valley through Alrewas to Burton should be reopened to passenger trains as soon as possible, this wouldn’t take much work as the track is already used by freight trains.

  4. Some of these wholesale Dr Beeching closures that took place in the 60’s should now be re-visited for opportunities to re-open them for rail transport. There is a wonderful example of this for reinstating the Lichfield to Burton line including a stop at Alrewas for the National Arboretum. This would improve links into Birmingham / Wolverhampton etc. Let’s improve local lines for local people… not HS2!

  5. Is this possible to open it as a single line use running on the right hand side from Walsall to Lichfield thus still keeping the walkway intact on the left hand side, if we looked at the local railway routes here in the West Midlands we can see that there is no south west to north east route at all, so maybe establishing this from Lichfield to Walsall and through to the new metro link and onwards to Stourbridge would have great benefits to all cities towns and villages along that route, I have grew up with this line when in use and now mothballed since the mid eighties, as to wether its possible to create this line open again with a walkway just like the metro line has remains to be seen.

  6. I’m for local transport solutions. Reopen the line in it’s entirety, link Walsall to the north in a simple route and include a stop at the National Memorial Aboretum. The NMA is practically impossible to access by public transport, despite being surrounded by transport links.

  7. Most train services are busiest at commuter times. During the rest of the day there is very sparse usage. Running costs are very much higher since Beeching’s day when most railway workers were poorly paid. It would need very careful analysis to assess potential viability of reopening the line. I would doubt that many travel to or from Lichfield or Walsall on a regular work basis. Perhaps this might change in the future, but that is unlikely.

  8. If Network Rail have no plans to reinstate the railway, allowing the public to use it as a greenway is a splendid gesture, that will be appreciated by many.

  9. Reopening the Lichfield to Walsall line is a great idea and would improve local connectivity and thus improve the local economy, however opening passenger services between Lichfield and Burton and beyond will bring in much quicker benefits at lower cost and should be the first priority, but in the meantime the line to Walsall must be protected at least within the District.

  10. There’s only track as far as the old Charringtons depot. After that it’s the McClean way already. It’s never going to be used for trains again but it’s perfect for a cycle route/footpath.

  11. The rails are already up across the Walsall borough and the route is thriving as a walkway. It would make sense for the Lichfield district portion of the line to follow the same philosophy.
    Any future light rail route would be unviable unless it went all the way to Walsall, so challenges of fitting a line where we currently have a walking route wouldn’t be any different.

  12. Most of the track is long gone.
    The remaining track and signalling would have to be ripped out and replaced.
    We could have the walkway NOW.
    If the money is ever found a single-track line could co-exist with a walkway (as has been done in other places).

  13. Den if network rail have no intention to ever reinstate it why have they fenced off access and put up notices about trespass on their property

  14. All the track is gone from the A5 onwards and is used constantly by all as a walkway/cycle way all the way from Brownhills to Walsall, and is greatly loved and appreciated by everyone that uses it.
    It would be fantastic if the walkway stretched all the way into Lichfield

  15. I am pleased to read that Lichfield District Council are showing a welcome interest in the long-derelict railway line, and look forward to the time when the wonderful Maclean Way cycle and walkway becomes a complete entity through to Lichfield, enabling leisure and commuter cycling to use a safe route away from vehicular traffic and all the risks attached.

  16. This is a wonderful and much used greenaway, brilliantly looked after for one stretch by a volunteer group. Continuing the greenway all the way to Lichfield would be fantastic. Lichfield would become the place for the family to cycle to on the weekend!

  17. As a resident in Leomansley, Lichfield I have noticed a proliferation of new housing in recent times with the ongoing developments by Waitrose and Birmingham Road. I applaud Lichfield DC for considering opening up the Lichfield-Walsall rail corridor as a walk/cycle way.

    This would provide a healthy carbon free and traffic free corridor to Chasewater and beyond – something I’m sure these forthcoming residents will need and be grateful for. I hope Lichfield DC are successful in this quest – sad the railway has gone but look at the nearby Tissington and Monsal Trails and build on their success as ex railway lines.

    There is a bus service that runs every 30 mins to Walsall from Lichfield. Travelling on the bus is free for OAPs – this would not be the case on a train that crossed county boundaries .

    The need for new stations at Hammerwich, Brownhills and Pelsall (both out of town) means passenger traffic would be insignificant and any rail line to Walsall would not be financially viable.

  18. Because at the moment it’s not considered a safe site and is technically a live line. NR are currently the responsible landowner so have a duty to prevent trespass.

    Many of you pro rail folk clearly have no idea the line doesn’t continue south past the A5, has never been relaid properly over the M6 Toll or Lich bypass bridges and would have to be totally relaid anyway. It was end of life when closed.

    Should the line be rebuilt, it would involve the reconstruction of several bridges and an aqueduct – two of winch are grade 2 nationally listed structures. We are talking millions of pounds for very uncertain demand against a faster, more frequent bus service.

    On the portion from Pelsall to Walsall it’s already a surfaced, well used trail and has been for over 20 years.

    Allowing it to be turned to a walkway doesn’t stop it’s future use as a rail route – it protects the track bed from encroachment and an agreement exists that should NR want it back, they just have to make parallel provision for the displaced walking route.

    Everybody wins.

    Bob

  19. Whilst increased public transport would be nice, this line is highly unlikely to be reopened in the next 20 years. So the best option would be to turn it into a walking and cycling route.
    For the rail enthusiasts, this will help to protect the line from development or other uses, keeping it available to be converted back to rail should the demand be there in the future.

  20. They can’t talk about opening up a new rail line when they can’t even get a bus system from Burton to Lichfield to come more than once an hour, on time, or manage to run it past 7pm, not to mention the ridiculously old busses that shake and rattle like every screw is loose. Make a train line from Lichfield to Burton! Stop it at Fradley or Alrewas and get people back in the industrial areas that the transport is trying so hard to decline!

  21. Love using this route to walk with the dog and kids, it’s beautiful seeing all the wildlife that flourishes there. Whenever we walk this track we see many other users. I’d argue that in these times when healthy outdoor exercise is so important- we can’t afford to lose such a well used and well loved local resource!

  22. What rail enthusiasts seem to forget is that the Walsall to Brownhills section is no longer owned by Network Rail. The freehold has been bought by Railway Paths who work closely with Sustrans. They are committed to turning it into a Greenway/Cycleway and would however encourage a railway travelling alongside as has happened in other parts of the UK.
    The cost of new track however would be astronomical with bridges to be strengthened stations to be built and a public footpath that crosses the track, rerouted. As a railway it’s not a viable proposition which is why it closed in the first place.
    The footfall currently using the newly opened stretch to Brownhills has been a revelation and epitomised last week with teachers walking primary school children on a wildlife adventure trip in a safe and traffic free environment.

  23. The best solution would be a light rail system similar to the Stoubridge town line only a little bigger. This could run in conjuction with network rail from Burton to Walsall with new stations along the way. Anyone who knows the line no that there is no access to the public at the Walsall end as it is in a triangle between the Rugeley line and Castle Bromwich. I do not think that a light rail shystem would be overly expensive. There might even be room for path some of the way.

  24. Please, can the powers that be just get this done! Cycling or walking to Walsall and back would be fantastic. It could also spawn businesses such as bike hire and cafes along the way.

  25. The track from Burntwood to Ryecroft is already used as a cycle route (the McLean Way) and is much appreciated by local residents. It would be great if we could cycle all the way to Lichfield. Thank you to all who make this possible already.

  26. The track beyond A5 is well used by cyclists and walkers, has been for years. To extend this green corridor to Lichfield would be of a huge benefit in respect of wildlife, health and fitness. Access points along the entire route would give greater access.
    The Rail closed for a variety of reasons, reopening it would need a huge amount of money ploughing in. Surely those funds would be better used improving existing public transport and roads?

  27. We need Alrewas rail station more than ever now 300,00 visitors to arbouretum a year and its very hard for old people to get to a rail line would easy pay for its self

  28. Extend the mcclean way all the way to Lichfield. Its never going to be a rail track again. The exsisting mcclean way is fabulous and very well used.

  29. The Lichfield – Walsall railway was closed to passenger traffic circa 1965. Since then it has languished as an empty corridor – 55 years and counting! Walsall to Brownhills residents are enjoying the full benefits of a newly formed greenway with links to Chasewater and Chasewater Railway. Lichfield District Council should be supported in their attempt to stop “kicking the can down the road.” A complete generation will have missed this opportunity as the line lay dormant all these years – extend this greenway to Sandfields Pumping Station and let me cycle and walk the track with my grandchildren – before it’s too late!!

  30. It is great to walk on the old railway line towards Lichfield, why has it been fenced off suddenly just past Wall in the last few months? I was so upset to see this. Having a complete walking path from Walsall to Lichfield will attract more visitors and tourists which will be essential once the shops pubs and cafes reopen. Please open the last stretch for walkers again from Hammerwich to Lichfield. Network Rail have no plans at all to reopen the line, there are no tracks anymore (except for a tiny stretch) and it would be cost prohibitive to re surface and re-lay tracks. Plus it is a loved and paved walking route already, so lets expand this fantastic walking path into Lichfield as we are all discovering the joys of local walks in the lockdown. Thanks

  31. I think the line between Lichfield and Walsall should reopen, it would be a big benefit to people who live in Lichfield and Burntwood as well as many other places the line served before it closed to passengers. If they reopen it, I will be happy that places that once had a rail link will get it back again.

  32. The track is gone past charringtons… it had been forgotten/overgrown until alot of hardwork went into it by volunteers. It is a great track to walk already, opening up the remaining part to Lichfield to walkers/cyclists and runners would be great! I know id use it alot as its good not have to run by the road! Esp those with no paths if you are heading to Lichfield.

  33. I think extending the walk way and cycle Way would be a fantastic idea. People need safe areas to exercise and keep healthy more than they need another transport option that would cost millions to build for little need. Looking forward to being able to run or cycle from Lichfield to walsall

  34. The Greenway and path/cycle route is the best option for the track as it stands, the cost of reopening and rebuilding the infrastructure that would need to be doone before traffic could restart makes this a complete no go for rail. As others have said the track past the A5 is gone already and is now a very popular public path that is well used and would be even more so if it was opened up to Lichfield. Those calling for it to be reopened as a railway are living in cloud cuckoo land.

  35. Most of the track has already gone and that what remaining from Lichfield to the A5 is in a poor state of repair and not fit for use. This is the assessment of Network Rail engineers. Network Rail have also identified a number of encroachments on the track.

    Network Rail have done their market research and conclude that there is insufficient demand for at least the next twenty-five years.

    Putting the route back into use as a walking and cycling route would bring immediate cost-effective benefits to a wider community and would not prejudice any future planes for reopening if demands changes.

    This is a win win for the community.

  36. It is with great excitement that I’m reading there may be a possibility to open up the McClean Way for walking and cycling to Lichfield,
    Thus continuing to Lichfield from Brownhills,
    People would get so much out of this and it wouldn’t cost the earth !!
    We already have so much infrastructure in place for people to commute,
    The McClean is a great place for people to exercise and also feel the Nostalgia of what the line used to be like,
    Were as is it was put back in to use a a rail line you would never get that !!
    I also think it’s a great opportunity for Lichfield and the surrounding area’s people’s health well being .

    My vote is for a walking/ cycling route from Walsall to Lichfield
    The McClean way

  37. As older people we value the opportunity to walk and cycle SAFELY to keep fit. This obviously benefits the economy as we are less likely to need medical support or care and being off road is much safer than being an obstacle to lorries and cars. We use McClean way regularly and run a small cycling group along it during the summer. It allows us link with canal tow paths and old mineral lines for a 10 to 15 mile off road circular route from Chasewater and offers us the opportunity to support local business along the way for coffee and snacks or lunch.

  38. Having read concerbs about developers moving in surely a new station would be more likely to attract them hungry for the commuter market that a greenway used by walkers and cyclist just passing through?

  39. It will be interesting to see what impact Covid-19 and homeworking has on rail use over the coming years. Transport solutions need to be integrated with housing, retail, business and environmental considerations and a joint plan forming that crosses district boundaries. Protecting the route is key in the short term. Personally I’d like to see a Greenway established that links Lichfield and Walsall to Chasewater and Cannock Chase.

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