The line from Barnt Green via Redditch and Evesham to Ashchurch has been gifted several names over the years: the Redditch Line, the Redditch Branch, the Evesham Route, the Barnt Green to Ashchurch Loop, and the Birmingham-Gloucester Loop. The latter was shortened with use to the ‘Gloucester Loop’. The country through which the line ran was mostly rural, and the towns it served whilst important, were not large. So the number and complexity of proposed lines in this area is somewhat surprising, and these are examined as part of the chronological survey of railway developments along each part of the line. As no railway exists in isolation, the events and services on the connecting lines as far as they affect this line, are also examined. The line was built by three separate companies, and opened in four stages between 1859 and 1868. However, the Midland Railway had seen the potential, and backed the nominally independent companies and furthermore, each section of the line was operated by the Midland Railway. Although the line was never originally conceived as a strategic route, it was developed gradually from a desire to keep competitors at bay into a useful diversionary route. The line proved prosperous as it served the developing manufacturing towns of Redditch and Alcester, and the important fruit and vegetable growing area of the Vale of Evesham. Passenger traffic was normally fairly light, but the area served also brought a good deal of day trippers from the Birmingham area at weekends and holidays. In modern times, the passenger traffic from Redditch was at first roundly discouraged, until common sense prevailed and the now much shortened line was modernized. The growth of Redditch as a New Town created a level of passenger traffic never previously imagined, and the surviving line has a frequency of trains that are the envy of much larger towns. It now forms the southern end of the electrified ‘Cross City’ rail link from Lichfield through Birmingham. The corollary is that freight traffic on the branch is nowadays non-existent. Contents The Existing Railways
A look at the railways in the area prior to 1858 – the Midland Railway route from Birmingham to Gloucester – the Great Western Railway line from Worcester to Evesham and Oxford
The Redditch Railway
Origins of Redditch and early transport links. Unsuccessful early proposals for lines in the area. Formation of the company, construction of the line, the dispute with the contractor. The life and times of George Furness. The opening of the line, and its description. A review of services, and experiences along the line from 1859 until1868.
The Evesham & Ashchurch Railway
Competition from an unexpected source. Planning, construction and opening of the line. A look at the frequency and composition of services from 1864 to 1866.
The Evesham & Redditch Railway
Formation of the company, and construction of the line to Alcester. Working the line to Alcester from 1866 to 1868. Construction of the line onwards to Redditch, and opening of the through route in 1868.The final events of the company.
Connections at Broom Junction
The plans and intentions of lines that were never built. The building of the Evesham, Redditch and Stratford-on-Avon Junction Railway, its connection to the Midland Railway line at Broom, its subsequent operation by the Stratford and Midland Junction Railway, implications of connecting traffic and services, and the eventual demise of connections.
Description of the line
A journey from Barnt Green to Ashchurch, detailing the stations, track layouts and points of interest, and chronicling the physical developments of the railway from 1868 to 1964. A brief history and description of the GWR branch from Alcester to Bearley.
Working the line from 1868 to 1964
Passenger and goods workings on the line in this period, looking also at the development of the lines north of Barnt Green. An examination of rolling stock and locomotives used, sample fares, special workings and diversions, and the operating systems used. A brief look at the locomotives used on the GWR branch from Alcester to Bearley.
Events leading up to the closure the line south of Redditch, how the remnants of the line subsequently survived, the gradual demise of freight services, and a look at the line today, including searching for evidence of its history. Major new works in 2014.