There has been no public consultation, as yet, on the VLR proposals for the Black Country passenger line.
FOR EASE OF READING, THEY ARE IN CHRONOLOGICAL ORDER, dated 30 January 2015. Nick is Nick Mallinson of WMG who wants his VLR project in Dudley. My suggestion gives all of you all you want - Christmas every day!:
Could your ultra light rail project and the Innovation Centre go on the cleared site of the former Brierley Hill Steel Terminal at Moor St, Brierley Hill DY5 3AG? It could then be tested and developed using the 3 Km line from there to north of Pensnett High Street to terminate at Tansey Green Road or Stallings Lane (B4175). This is Shut End on my A-Z. Earlier this month, I walked the length of the old line and nothing has been built on it. One new bridge over the canal would have to be built.
Once perfected, the tram train would be ideal for road running to Merry Hill Shopping Centre and, a second line to Stourbridge Town interchange. Intu, the current owners of Merry Hill might provide funds, as Nigel Hugil, MD of Chelsfield was prepared to do in the 1990s for Metro going to his shopping centre. If I remember correctly, he was offering £25 million!
From Nick Mallinson:
Thank you for your email and your suggestion of an alternative site for the Innovation Centre and test track.
I am not familiar with the site and track formation so I cannot say whether or not it would be a suitable alternative. In practical terms WMG is in the hands of our partner, Dudley Council, with regard to the siting of the centre in the Borough. I note that Martyn Holloway has replied to you and explained that the present proposal delivers benefits other than VLR research capability and jobs to the Borough – the Castle Hill to Dudley Port rail link will reconnect Dudley to the line into Birmingham and provide a channel for many tourists to reach Dudley and visit the Zoo and Black Country Living Museum.
It is the sum of the benefits that has made this proposal so compelling to the Black Country and other public bodies including Future railway. DfT and Centro.
From Martyn Holloway (Roy is Roy Burgess, who first told me of the Black Country Rail Line 20 years ago):
The line to Pensnett is still protected from a planning perspective and so could be available for the test facility as you suggest.
The old Moor Street freight liner site is well placed for ultimately serving Stourbridge and Waterfront but there are operational issues with the live freight line that still need to be considered. Primarily this is over the mixing of heavy and light rail systems but that applies to any proposals on live (track) line.
However, what your proposal does not do is address our current objective to build on investment in Dudley town centre and Castle Hill by reconnecting it to the national rail network. This is integral with the proposals for the VLR centre.
As Roy will attest, I am always open to constructive proposals but in this case it doesn’t deliver the objectives for Dudley
Head of Traffic & Transportation
Directorate of Environment Economy and Housing
Many thanks, Nick for the e-mail.
Below is my reply to Martyn's e-mail that I will paste, here:-
Thanks, Martyn for your e-mail, that was good to receive. It was kind of you to reply promptly.
What WOULD "address our current objective to build on investment in Dudley town centre and Castle Hill by reconnecting it to the national rail network" is to have the national rail network come to Dudley Castle Hill. This can be done, much more quickly, by returning diesel trains from Oxford, Worcester and beyond to the heart of three Black Country boroughs and then going on to Crewe and the NW in one direction and, Derby and the NE in the other.
In this way, investment would come to Dudley and to the to the somewhat rundown but still attractive Waterfront area of Brierley Hill, that would get a new lease of life. In fact, why not have the pleasant Waterfront as the new administrative centre for Dudley MBC that would then be, directly, on the national rail network? And, without waiting the many years for the ultra light rail tram train to be developed and tested before, finally running up and down Castle Hill in public service?
In this way, you would be returning passenger trains to the Oxford, Worcester and Wolverhampton Railway Company line that saw passenger steam trains for about 100 years until the 1960s when the line was closed. For 50 years, no passenger trains have been seen on the 13 miles of double track line from Stourbridge Jct, Castle Hill Dudley, Wednesbury and on to Walsall. Your proposal continues the tragedy of your good self missing out on the sheer wonder of seeing the delights of Dudley from the window of a commuter or inter-city train as it powers to and past our Castle, Zoo, Canal Trust and Museum. My proposal puts a stop to this disappointment of yours!