Redditch to Ashchurch Timeline - Railways of the Vale of Evesham

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Railways of the Vale of Evesham
Redditch to Ashchurch Timeline
(An abridged version of this timeline was published in the 2019 edition of the "Almoner's Pen", the annual newsletter of the Vale of Evesham Historical Society)

July 1858
The Redditch Railway's plans for a line from Barnt Green on the established Birmingham-Gloucester line to Redditch are approved by Parliament.

September 1859
The first trains run to Redditch.

June 1861
The Midland Railway gains approval to build a branch from Ashchurch to Evesham.   

July 1863
The Evesham and Redditch Railway is authorised. This would prove to be the most difficult part of the line to construct and build with long 1-in-120 gradients and a tunnel at Redditch required. It would be a single track line.

October 1864
The Ashchurch to Evesham section opens. It has been built as a double track.

June 1866
The section from Evesham to Alcester is completed and Alcester opens to passenger traffic.

September 1866
Alcester opens for goods traffic.

August 1867
The last part of the Redditch tunnel, south of Redditch station is cut.

January 1868
Connecting facilities between the two lines at Evesham are provided, although full junction facilities would not be provided for nearly another century.

May 1868
The Alcester to Redditch section opens, completing the branch from Barnt Green to Ashchurch.

An engine shed at Evesham is opened at some point around this time.  A turntable is also supplied.

July 1882
With the Evesham and Redditch Railway being absorbed into the Midland Railway, the latter now has full control of the line. It is now the most strategically important of the vale lines for getting the vale's produce to Birmingham and beyond.

January 1917
As a wartime economy, single track working is introduced between Bengeworth and Beckford.

February 1921
Double track is restored to the section between Bengeworth and Beckford.

January 1923
The line becomes part of the London Midland and Scottish Railway at this time.

February 1925
A passenger train derails at Ashton-under-Hill, resulting in the death of the driver, and the fireman suffering severe injuries.  Fortunately, the carriages remain upright during the crash, and neither of the two passengers on board suffers serious injury.  The cause of the derailment is subsequently blamed on a combination of poor track and instability issues with the class of locomotive being used.

September 1931
The LMS engine shed at Evesham is closed, although the turntable continues to be used (and extended at some point after 1930).  

January 1950
Wixford station is closed.  

June 1951
A new loop at Broom Junction means that the line now sees iron ore trains from Woodford Halse and Banbury using it to get to South Wales. This would continue to 1960, when a new loop at Stratford-Upon-Avon would see the  trains diverted along the Stratford to Cheltenham line.  

June 1952
Coughton station is closed.

June 1953
Bengeworth station is closed.

August 1953
Hinton station is downgraded to an unstaffed halt.

A new connection between the GWR and LMS lines at Evesham is installed to allow westbound trains on the former to go southbound on the latter (and  vice-versa).  This is intended mainly for diversions off the Stratford to Cheltenham Line between Honeybourne and Cheltenham.

March 1958
The branch comes under Western Region control.

April 1960
DMUS are introduced, initially providing and hourly service to Redditch. By 1964, these have been reduced to two a day.

October 1962
With the line between Evesham and Redditch declared unsafe, passenger services are withdrawn from this section of the line, along with goods services between Alcester to Evesham.

June 1963
Passenger traffic between Evesham and Ashchurch are withdrawn.

September 1963
Apart from a small section to serve the MOD depot at Ashchurch, the line south of Evesham is closed. This leaves Evesham with just the former OW&W/GWR station serving it.

March 1964
During the removal of track at Hinton, the engine in charge of the demolition of the track, GWR Class 22XX no. 2232, is derailed on points. As the engine is at low speed, no one is hurt and the spectacle draws a small crowd of locals to observe. The train is re-railed by placing timbers in the point blades and then reversing the engine up the timbers and back onto the rails.

July 1964
The remaining goods services between Redditch and Alcester are withdrawn.
The Evesham to Alcester section is officially closed.

Proposals are put forward to close the Barnt Green to Redditch section of the line, but the expansion of Redditch into a "New Town" is enough to save this section.

The Midland railway bridge over the River Avon is removed.

June 1967
The last remaining Midland sidings at Evesham are closed.

November 1971
Ashchurch station closes, having lost the branches to Redditch  and to Tewkesbury at this point.

May 1993
The station at Redditch re-opens after being rebuilt, this being  the forth station in the town.

July 1993
The Redditch to Barnt Green is electrified as part of  improvements to the "Cross-City Line" from Redditch to Lichfield via Birmingham  New Street.

Ashchurch station is reopened, but like Honeybourne, is reduced in status from a junction station to an unmanned halt.
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