Chase Line

Chase Line

Map of the Chase Line. Not to scale.
Type Suburban rail, Heavy rail
System National Rail
Status Operational
Locale Staffordshire
West Midlands
West Midlands (region)
Stations 15
Owner Network Rail
Track gauge 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in) standard gauge
Chase/Walsall Line
Trent Valley Line to Stafford
Rugeley Trent Valley
Trent Valley Line to Rugby
Rugeley B Power Station
Rugeley Town
Brindley Heath
Cannock Mineral Railway
Wyrley and Cheslyn Hay
Limit of TfWM area
Bloxwich North
South Staffordshire Line
Sutton Park Line
Wolverhampton and
Walsall Railway
Walsall to
Wolverhampton Line
South Staffordshire Line
Walsall to Wolverhampton Line
to Wolverhampton
Bescot Stadium
Bescot TMD
Tame Bridge Parkway
Tame Valley Canal
Newton Road
Perry Barr Junctions
Handsworth Wood
Perry Barr
Soho Road
Midland Metro
Snow Hill Lines
Cross-City Line
Stafford Line
Soho Junctions
Cross-City Line
Birmingham New Street Midland Metro
to Stechford
New Street South Tunnels
Proof House Junction
Stafford Line

Centro free parking
Other car parking

The Chase Line is a suburban railway line in the West Midlands region of England. It runs from its southern terminus, Birmingham New Street, to Walsall, and then Rugeley in Staffordshire, where it joins the Trent Valley Line. The name of the line refers to Cannock Chase which it runs through at its northern end.

Part of the line between Birmingham and Walsall has been electrified since the 1960s, work is currently underway to electrify the remaining 15 mile stretch of line between Walsall and Rugeley, which is scheduled for completion by December 2017.[1]


The line from Birmingham to Walsall (sometimes referred to as the Walsall Line) has two alternative routes, both electrified at 25 kV AC overhead. One leaves New Street to the east, following the Cross-City Line as far as Aston, where it diverges to the west. The other leaves to the west, and travels via Soho. Beyond Walsall, the line is not electrified, and continues north to Hednesford and Rugeley. This section was freight-only, and reopened to passenger trains in stages between 1989 and 1998.

Places served on the route are listed below. For information on the stations, please refer to the list in the route map.

Chase Line (Walsall-Rugeley)

Walsall Line (Birmingham-Walsall)

Passenger trains are operated by London Midland on behalf of Transport for West Midlands.


A Class 323 calls at Perry Barr.

Monday to Saturday daytime there are four trains per hour from Birmingham New Street to Walsall. Two per hour run via Aston and call at all stations, the other two per hour run direct via Soho and call at Tame Bridge Parkway and Walsall. Two of these per-hour continue to Rugeley Trent Valley during peak hours, dropping to one per-hour off peak.[2]

Monday to Saturday evenings and all day Sunday there are two trains per hour (one stopping and one semi-fast) between Walsall and Birmingham and an hourly service to Rugeley Trent Valley.

Class 323 Electric Multiple Units are used for services on the electrified section between Birmingham and Walsall. The services which continue beyond Walsall on the non-electrified stretch to Rugeley use Class 170 Diesel Multiple Units.Some services also utilise Class 153 units in partnership with the Class 170's.

Two daily services operate between Walsall and Liverpool Lime Street.



The line between Walsall and Rugeley Trent Valley closed to passengers in 1965, remaining open to freight, although until the 1980s it was not unknown for diverted Inter-City passenger services from Birmingham to Manchester, Edinburgh, Glasgow, etc. to use the line in the event of the Wolverhampton-Stafford route being shut for Sunday or late evening engineering work.[4] It reopened in stages, as follows:[5]


The lines between New Street and Walsall were electrified in 1966 as an offshoot of the West Coast Main Line electrification, along with the Walsall to Wolverhampton Line.[6]

In July 2012, the coalition government announced the overhead electrification of the Chase Line between Rugeley Trent Valley and Walsall, with work scheduled to take place from 2014, with an estimated completion date of December 2017.[7] It is estimated to cost around £36m, as part of a £9.4bn package of investment in the railways in England and Wales, including £4.2bn of new schemes, unveiled by the government. The electrification was first discussed in the early 1960s, but funding was secured by Aidan Burley, MP for Cannock Chase in February 2013 after his Adjournment Debate on 14 June 2012.[8]

The electrification of the line will be accompanied by a speed increase from the current 45 mph to 75 mph. Bloxwich level crossing will be closed to motorised traffic, the bridge at Central Drive north of the crossing being strengthened and widened to improve the alternative route. This will enable the current 20 mph speed limit to be lifted. It will also enable the line to transport W10 freight containers. Preliminary work to re-signal the route ahead of electrification was completed in August 2013, with the closure of the three remaining manual signal boxes at Bloxwich, Hednesford & Brereton Sidings and the panel boxes at Walsall & Bescot. Control of the area passed to the West Midlands SCC at Saltley.

For residents of the area, the changes will mean up to 15 minutes shorter journey times [9] and reduced overcrowding to Birmingham with 4 trains per hour (tph), as well as the introduction of new services to Birmingham International (2tph), Coventry (2tph), Liverpool Lime Street and even the possibility of a direct service to London Euston.[10] The electrification itself will create over 1300 jobs in the area and generate a further £113 million of gross value added (GVA) benefit per annum, as well as reducing the operating costs of the line.

In May 2014, London Midland announced that it was intending to run longer trains[11] on the route, requiring station platforms to be extended to accommodate.

Controversy over electrification

Gavin Williamson, Conservative MP for South Staffordshire, has campaigned to limit the speed of trains through Great Wyrley and Cheslyn Hay when the upgrade work of the line is complete. He has written to transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin, requesting confirmation that trains travelling through these areas will not exceed a speed of 45 mph.[12] He has also requested that "environmental mitigation measures" be put in place to reduce the potential impact of the electrification on residents in South Staffordshire. Network Rail had previously said that electric trains are quieter, greener and cleaner, reducing carbon emissions.[13]


  1. "Chase Line Electrification on target for completion". Cannock Chase Council. Retrieved 10 September 2016.
  2. GB National Rail Timetable 2015-16 Edition, Table 70R (Network Rail)
  3. 1 2 3 4 Boynton, John (1996). Rails Around Walsall. Mid England Books. ISBN 0-9522248-3-6.
  4. J. Glover, West Midlands Rails in the 1980s, Ian Allan, 1984
  5. Boynton, John. A Century of Railways around Birmingham and the West Midlands, Volume Three 1973-1999. Mid England Books. ISBN 0-9522248-6-0.
  6. British Railways Engineering 1948-80" by John Johnson and Robert A. Long (Mechanical Engineering Publications Ltd, 1981
  7. "Chase Line Electrification on target for completion". Cannock Chase Council. 1 December 2015. Retrieved 16 June 2016.
  8. Debate: Walsall-Rugeley Line (Electrification)
  9. High speed rail and supporting investments in the West Midlands Archived 12 August 2014 at the Wayback Machine.
  10. "£30m to improve Midlands train link". Express & Star. Retrieved 15 February 2013.
  11. More seats on trains after £30m Chase Line work
  12. Gavin Williamson MP meets with the under secretary of state over speed of trains through Great Wyrley and Cheslyn Hay
  13. Network rail announcement for the Chase Line upgrade
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