|BIRMINGHAM NEW STREET has a full description page to itself here. When you've viewed it, click the Back button that you'll find at top or bottom of the page to return here. For simple convenience, however, this is our main plan. We've labelled the east and west ends, but trains can go in almost any direction from either end - and when under pressure, they do! Wheels: BM.|
ADDERLEY PARK station - despite its attractive name - lies in a cutting beneath a somewhat industrial section of Bordesley Green Road (B4145). The ticket office is at street level and steel staircases at either end of the bridge get you down to platform level where small brick open-fronted waiting rooms face each other across the tracks. There are seats in the waiting rooms, plus one or two along each platform. The station was rebuilt in 1985, which must have been too soon for wheelchair access to be mandatory, so there is no easy access at all. There is also no parking provided for railway clients. Wheels: BM.
STECHFORD The line runs under Station Road (A4040), but the ticket office is actually in Victoria Road. If you approach from the residential part of this area, be warned that the traffic calming bumps are severe enough to ground your car's front air dam if it has one. 24 steps lead down from the ticket office to the Birmingham platform, and there is a 1950s-era decorated concrete passenger bridge to the island platform opposite. Both platforms have bus shelters with seats - the Birmingham platform having a second one. The station could be reasonably pleasant, but the shelter glazing is grimly opaque - and while that may be largely due to vandalism, it's still a depressing environment for the great majority of users and really ought to be replaced. There are no easy access facilities and no railway-provided parking. Wheels: BM.
LEA HALL is a total contrast to its neighbours. It's a very "arty" station with plenty of design and colour applied, ticket office on the footpath overbridge, and railed ramps down to both platforms and sheltered seating. It's bright, clean and attractive (if a bit playground-ish), and even sports a tramways relic by the ticket office. (We found the design a bit too active at times, but far better than inner-city drabness.) Outside, there is parking for 28 cars (3 marked disabled), and bus stands for routes 15/17 and 99 out of the city, and 99 alone back to it. However, there is another stop at the top of the road which appears to provide 15/17 back to the city. This station is one of the good guys (though it has lost a little of its freshness since our first visit). Wheels: BM.
There is also a grey steel accommodation bridge to link the residential areas either side of the line, and this is ramped for prams and wheelchairs. This doesn't connect directly with the station, but easy ramps to both platforms are nearby, so it helps passengers too. Oh, and while you're waiting for your train, you get a great view of planes taking off from Birmingham airport! Wheels: BM. [revisited 2009]
The view looks towards Birmingham New Street from the ramped overbridge.
If you go left from the station instead of right, you'll find a short corridor leading to a free 2-minute rail link to the airport terminal, serviced by two extremely short trains that endlessly shuttle back and forth.
BERKSWELL station is at the point where Station Road becomes Truggist Lane. The road used to meet the railway at a level crossing, with an alternative road underpass that was impassible in periods of heavy rain as it was the lowest point around and water flooded into it. The crossing has now gone and the underpass has been widened and improved, though it is still single lane and therefore traffic-light controlled - and it may still flood. Alongside it is a pedestrian underpass. The station is to the west of the underpass, accessed by overbridge or ramps from each side of the line, and there is a wheel-negotiable link across the the road to the car park on the opposite side. The Birmingham side has a traditional wooden ticket office and waiting room, and there is a bus shelter on the other platform. Wheels: BM. [revisited 2007]
The photo shows the car park access to the right at the lights, the walkway across at rail height to reach the station (invisible to the left), the ramp down to pavement level, and the two underpasses. Berkswell station is on the edge of the town, which lies directly behind the camera. (Another photo at top of page.)
TILE HILL On our last visit in 2001, Tile Hill was at the level crossing where Cromwell Lane becames Station Avenue. The station is still there but West Coast line modernisation has passed through here too, and as the photo shows, a flyover bridge replaces it (to the joy of road and rail users). The Birmingham side has a modern ticket office with a few seats in its foyer, while a bus shelter adorns the Coventry platform. The loss of the simple level crossing has necessitated a large ramped overbridge to link the platforms for wheeled users, and there is disabled parking close to the station building. The general park-and-ride area is just across Cromwell Lane as before, but now accessed by a slip road off the bridge. Wheels: BM. [revisited 2007]
COVENTRY is one of the major Midlands stations. It has four platform faces and all platforms are protected by long canopies. The platforms are linked by two parallel passenger bridges - one for pedestrians, and one for lift users. Although these seem to be linked, they actually connect only above platform 4. The concourse has the main ticket office, a full range of other services, and leads directly to platform 1 (with steps off to the left to get to the overbridge). Outside, there are buses departing from one face of the building, taxis from another, and car parking (not free) is adjacent. Apart from the unexpected separateness of the overbridges (shown by the thick line on the plan), the station is straightforward for all users, including prams, trolleys and wheelchairs. Wheels: BM.
Coventry also links to the Stafford-Rugby line. Click here to transfer to our guide for that line.
RUGBY station lies to the north east of the town centre, and is not quite the station it was in the high tide of railways, but it is still a major station sitting at the junction of the two routes to Stafford (via Birmingham and via the Trent Valley). The original building still has a full range of facilities including waiting areas, snacks, newspapers, and drinking bowls for your dogs, and most of the platform is covered by a canopy. Access is by an underpass from Railway Terrace, emerging as a ramp up to the platform beside the ticket office and travel centre. There is a second underpass heading to the far side of the station, but this was locked when we visited. There is a taxi rank in Railway Terrace, buses call, there is 20 minute short term parking and two car parks for long stays.
Since our visit, Rugby station has been undergoing extensive remodelling as part of the general speeding up of train services on the West Coast Route. A new platform came into in use on the south side of the station in 2007 and became the new platform 1. This means that the other platforms will also be renumbered. Two more platforms will be completed in 2008, and a new entrance and ticket office is also in the scheme. Wheels: BM
Rugby also links to the Rugby-Stafford line. Click here to transfer to our guide for that line.
NORTHAMPTON station is on a loop close to the main Birmingham-London
misses some of the long-distance expresses but is still well-served by trains from both those places. It lies beside
the ring road (A428) on the west side of the town, with modern buildings, overbridge with lifts to the far platform,
waiting rooms on both sides, and plenty of seats and canopy cover. It has four platform faces - number 4 being the bay at
the west end of platform 1. The concourse has a ticket office, a news/sweet shop, and automatic barrier-entry to
Outside, there is 30 minute parking facing the station frontage, disabled parking just before the main parking, and
long-stay parking (£4 per day in May 2004) for about 300 cars. Wheels: BM|
WOLVERTON station is at the north east corner of the town and provides pay and display parking for about 75 cars plus 1-2 disabled spaces. The old station buildings are gone, and what looks like a portable building now provides a small ticket office near the car park entrance. Only the nearest platform (platform 4) has easy access - a substantial ramp from the car park to that platform near its southern end (you are recommended to use Milton Keynes instead). The platforms are linked by a solid-steel overbridge (no roof). Platforms 2/3 and 4 each have two rather distinctive modern shelters which do look interesting, but come (we suspect) from that large family of buildings that win design awards but fail in the job they were actually created for. For those unlucky enough to be waiting on platform 1 (northbound) there seems to be no shelter at all. But the frequency of trains may mean you don't wait long.|
Wheels: BM4 123 inaccessible
Photo: the car park is quiet by evening, but trains are still in and out.
MILTON KEYNES Milton Keynes is a post-war town designed for the
motor car and sprawls on a daunting scale. So if you're new to the place, all you can do is keep heading for
central Milton Keynes, and only when you are close will you get signs to the station. Grafton Gate is the
main arterial road to head for. Behind that lies Elder Gate, and from there it's easy to find the 1-way system
past the station frontage. Buses call, there are taxis, 15-minute free parking and expensive
all-day parking. It probably looked good on the project model, but we suspect it congests easily. You can get
much cheaper parking within 10 minutes walk, but you may have to arrive early. En route, you'll pass a nicely
done full size replica of a London & North Western Railway 1860s McConnell Bloomer, now needing a repaint.
The station is part of a much bigger building, and all that passengers see is a ticket office and a reasonable-sized snack bar. From this, a corridor leads across the overbridge that serves all platforms, though you have to pass through a ticket barrier first (with friendly railway staff present to assist). There are steps on one side and goods lifts on the other - freely usable by passengers as well. Milton Keynes is typical of the stations on the West Coast Main Line's final high-speed approach to London - three parallel platform units offering at least 4 main track faces, usually separating the long distance high speed lines from the more local and slower trains. The present station was opened in 1982 but is already too small and work is in progress now to make platform 1 a through track, to add a new track at what will be platform 6, and to revise the use of other tracks. This is expected to be completed in December 2008. There are waiting rooms and canopies for all platforms, and snacks on the western side. Wheels: BM. [Partly revised 2007]
BLETCHLEY Station is on the southwest side of the town centre. Direction signs do display it, but in ordinary black text with no white-on-red double-arrow to catch the eye. Buckingham Road (the B4034) runs from the town side under the railway viaduct, and quickly encounters a double mini-
roundabout. Sherwood Drive shoots north from this, you'll pass a fire station, then see a roundabout off to your
right, and this is the station approach. You then have a car park to the left with something like 200 places. Parking cost £3.50 per
day in mid-2005, but was free on Saturdays and Sundays. The ticket office is in the station entrance with toilets on the opposite wall, and an automatic ticket barrier between you and the platform. Lifts are incorporated in the passenger overbridge, and whilst there are very few buildings, there are seats and a reasonable stretch of the platform length is under canopies. Wheels:
Stations south of Bletchley are not covered in this guide, but as many travellers would be likely to use the terminus at Euston, London, this is included below.
Euston station London is one of the biggest termini in the capital, and among the most important since it serves lines right through to Northern Scotland. It was rebuilt in 1963-8 as part of the West Coast electrification, losing almost all physical links with its 1837 London & Birmingham Railway origin - the first main line terminal in any capital city in the world. Along the way went the massive stone Euston Arch that stood out in front as a major London landmark, and which even today traditionalists would like to see brought back. Instead we have a modern concourse, and even if it isn't so redolent of the steam age, it's a lot better suited to its modern task - as long as you don't mind standing. One of the things that characterises the station is the way people pour off trains, reach the concourse and, because there are no alternative exits, must perforce weave their way through hundreds more queuing to be allowed on the platforms. There are no seats because there is no room for them.
The concourse is also where the electronic train information boards are. Off to your left are the main ticket office, along with a section for advance bookings. To your right are a newsagent/bookshop and at least one snack and meal purveyor (the arrangement is subject to change). Between the gates to the platforms (which have individual train information video displays) are more snack counters and at least one more news/bookshop.
Because most trains are long distance, and all have to be cleaned and restocked at Euston, access to trains is severely controlled, and it's common for platform information not to be supplied until quite close to departure. When the gates are open they release you to multi-lane ramps with ticket barriers near the bottom. Standard operating practice is to have first class coaches at the concourse end of the station, so most people will have to walk halfway down the train to reach the second class seats. The system of access control also means that you can't go on the wrong platform and then sneak across the linking overbridge. There isn't one.
If you're arriving rather than departing then you'll find an escalator near the station frontage that will take you down to the London Underground. Outside are more snack concessions, buses and taxis. Within the station, wheeled access is straightforward. Outside may prove a little long-winded. [revisited 2007] Wheels: BM
Please note: the notes and sketches are intended only to give a general impression, and should not be relied upon for more than that. Dudley Mall accepts no liability for errors, but will correct any significant ones notified to us through firstname.lastname@example.org or by post to Dudley Mall, 62 Gervase Drive, Dudley, West Midlands DY1 4AT.
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