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& the West Midlands

Rail Around Birmingham & the West Midlands

 

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Chasewater Railway in the 1970s (David Bathurst)
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Chasewater Railway


(Click on the map to navigate to Chasewater Railway station pages)

Apart from the Severn Valley Railway, the Chasewater Railway is the only other preserved railway operating heritage diesel and steam locos on its own rails in the region studied by Rail Around Birmingham. In terms of reputation and publicity, Chasewater Railway (Chasewater Light Railway & Museum Company to be precise) comes a distant second to Severn Valley. However, this doesn't diminish their contribution to the region's railway heritage preservation and with a history dating back to 1959 it predates Severn Valley and in the face of considerable adversity have manged to improve and expand in recent years.

The railway operates on what is in effect a purpose built system. Although the Midland Railway operated a colliery line (which briefly flirted with passenger services: see Brownhills station (MR)) that skirted past the site of their Brownhills West station, the majority of the line has been built by the Chasewater Railway itself: no mean feat considering some of the engineering challenges faced by the company in undertaking such expansion.

The line begins at Brownhills West station that also houses the engine shed and heritage centre, following a route around the Chasewater Reservoir, built to feed the Essington and Wyreley Canal. The line crosses the reservoir at its Northern tip and passes through Norton Lakeside halt and Chasewater Heaths station before coming to rest at Chasetown Curch Street station. The passage across the reservoir, known as 'The Causeway', is a considerable feat for a railway such as Chasewater, one which had it not been undertaken would have rendered the railway defunct, involving the laying of 120,000 tons of fill!

The railway has suffered from considerable underfunding over the years - having virtually ceased to be in mid-1980s - only to struggle through and keep going: and all credit to those involved in the running of the railway for that. Furthermore, just when things were picking up, along came the M6 Toll road running straight through their 'Brownhills West' base. A combination of compensation and dedication has ensured the railway has risen again and is in the process of improving and expanding!

The railway operates a selection of diesel locos (see page 3 of the 'Train Pics' section for some examples) - largely from the industrial arena - and throughout the summer steam travel is available: however, should you wish to visit the railway, please bear in mind that it runs primarily on Sundays. I would definitely urge anyone reading this to visit the Chasewater Railway and offer your support in any way you can (in particular their membership scheme is worth considering). For more detailed information, check out the Chasewater Railway's website here.


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