Cross-City Line – University & Alvechurch

It has been a short while since I last visited the Cross-City Line which runs from Lichfield Trent Valley to Bromsgrove and Redditch, and so I took a trip on Wednesday 12th April to Alvechurch, via University.

The train was a lot busier than usual, because it was the Easter holidays. Normally, if I was travelling south of Birmingham, I would have to change trains at Birmingham New Street. However, I was able to change trains at University railway station this time, as there is a direct service there from Burton on Trent.

University railway station was opened in May 1978, the year that the Cross-City Line also opened. It was built to serve the University of Birmingham, Birmingham Women’s Hospital and the Queen Elizabeth Hospital. It is the seventh-busiest railway station in the West Midlands, seeing just under 4 million passengers annually in pre-pandemic times. When I went there, though, it was not busy at all. Maybe it’s because the university students were on their Easter holidays. University is the only station on the Cross-City Line to have a plaque commemorating the opening of the line in 1978.

A new railway station building is under construction at the station, to increase capacity and provide better access to the hospitals and university. It was supposed to open in time for the 2022 Commonwealth Games, but as far as I can tell, it still isn’t finished.

I didn’t have long to wait for the train to Alvechurch. It is a village in Worcestershire, just north of Redditch, mostly made up of modern housing estates, but with some preserved historic buildings in the centre of the village.

Alvechurch railway station opened in November 1859 as part of the Redditch Railway, and was operated by the Midland Railway. It was threatened with closure by Doctor Beeching in 1963, but was reprieved with a much-reduced service of four trains per day. In 1980, it became part of the Cross-City Line and the single-track line was upgraded with a new platform built during the electrification of the line in 1993. In 2014, the railway track was doubled, and a second platform built, along with lifts and a footbridge for access. The station is unstaffed, and the original station buildings (pictured above) are now used as a nursery school and child-minding business.

It had started to rain when I left the station, and I headed for the nearby Worcester and Birmingham Canal, which runs almost parallel to the Cross-City Line. Unlike at Bournville and Kings Norton, the canal is relatively graffiti-free at Alvechurch.

After a pleasant (but wet) stroll along the canal, I left the towpath and walked through the village to the historic centre, with its medieval half-timbered buildings including the Tudor Rose Fish Bar. Famous people from Alvechurch include the recently-deceased author Fay Weldon, and the creator of the long-running BBC radio serial The Archers, Godfrey Baseley.

Alvechurch’s main church is St Laurence, dating back to 1239, with a rebuild in the mid-19th century. In 2005, a modern extension called The Ark was added to the church, despite protest from the locals who voted against it in a referendum. I can see why they didn’t like it; it looks ridiculous in my opinion.

The rain was falling hard at Alvechurch, and so I decided to head back home. I arrived back at Alvechurch station just in time for a train to Birmingham New Street. I had to make the choice of staying at a wet Alvechurch station and wait for the next train which would give me a shorter wait at New Street, or take the train which had just arrived and have a longer wait at a freezing cold Birmingham New Street, so I opted for the latter.

That’s it for this post, thanks very much for reading.


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