Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Cardiff Queen Street / Caerdydd Heol y Frenhines (CDQ)

Type: National Rail (Valley Lines)
Station code: CDQ
Opened: 1840
Platforms: 5
Cardiff Queen Street (Caerdydd Heol y Frenhines) is the second busiest station in Wales. The station was opened in 1840 as Crockherbtown by the Taff Vale Railway.

It gained its current name in 1887 following a rebuild. The station was much changed in 1973 following another rebuild where the overall roof and Taff Vale Railway frontage was removed. Further rebuilding work took place in 2014 where the 2 platforms were reinstated bringing the total to 5.

Cardiff Queen Street is a major transport hub in Cardiff being the centre of the Valley Lines network. The station is also the terminus of a branch line to Cardiff Bay.
ATW 142 075 stands at Cardiff Queen Street

Two varieties of Pacer

Platform signs 
Cardiff Bay shuttle

Monday, 20 March 2017

Yardley Wood (YRD)

Type: National Rail (Shakespeare Line)
Station code: YRD
Opened: 1908
Platforms: 2
Yardley Wood is one of the stops on the Shakespeare (or North Warwickshire) Line out of Snow Hill. It was opened by the GWR in 1908 as Yardley Wood Platform. By the First World War the Platform part of the name had been dropped [1]. Unlike some of the other stations on this line Yardley Wood never had goods facilities and is remarkably unchanged from its earliest days.

When built Yardley Wood was built in a very rural area with few houses nearby though now is a suburb in the South East of Birmingham (though is not to be confused with Yardley in the East of the city).

Despite still having the original (and decent sized) main station building still being in place on the up platform the ticket office is on another building at road level.
A LM Class 172 pauses on a service to Whitlocks End

Main station building

Shelter on the down platform

Looking down towards Stratford

[1] Vic Mitchell & Keith Smith, Stratford-upon-Avon to Birmingham Moor St (Middleton Press, 2006) p. 79

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Leicester Square (ZLS)

Type: Transport for London
(Northern & Piccadilly Lines)
Station code: ZLS
Opened: 1906
Platforms: 4
Leicester Square was opened in 1906 by the Great Northern, Brompton & Piccadily Line followed the next year by platforms for the Charing Cross, Hamstead & Euston Railway. Originally Leicester Square was to be called Cranbourn Street which is where one of the entrances are [1].

The two lines were renamed the Piccadilly and Northern Lines as time went on and got busier especially as the Northern Line was extended. The station was rebuilt in the 1930s to cope with greatly increased numbers. A sub-surface ticket hall was added and escalators were installed to replace the lifts. The escalators were claimed at the time to be some of the longest in the world [2].

Film sprockets have been painted on the walls along each platform (see photo below) as Leicester Square (the place above) has a number of cinemas and often hosts film premieres. Leicester Square is a typical very busy Zone 1 tube station with nearly 45 million entries and exits a year.
One of the Northern Line platforms 
Cranbourn Street entrance

[1] Desmond F. Coombe, The Piccadilly Line (Capital Transport, 1998) p. 15
[2] Ibid p. 49

Sunday, 12 March 2017

Stafford (STA)

Type: National Rail (West Coast Main Line)
Station code: STA
Opened: 1837
Platforms: 5
Stafford is a major interchange on the West Coast Main Line and is at the junction of the Trent Valley and Rugby-Birmingham-Stafford lines. The original Stafford station was opened by the Grand Junction Railway in 1837 but lasted less than 10 years being rebuilt in 1844.

There was a further rebuild in 1862 and exactly 100 years later the current station was built with its rather pleasing Brutalist architecture. There are 5 platforms though they are numbered up to 6, platform 2 no longer exists being a bay platform next to the station building (now used as a siding).

A Royal Mail platform still exists next to platform 6. Stafford is a busy station with regular Virgin Trains, London Midland and Cross Country services as well as freight.
Two Class 90s bring a freightliner train through the station

A convoy of Class 66s pass the pain station building

A Virgin Trains Pendolino approaches

A Class 70 passes a London Midland Class 350

A Class 325 at the former Royal Mail platform
Gatwick Express 387 223 heads through on a test run

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

Redditch (RDC)

Type: National Rail (Cross-City Line)
Station code: RDC
Opened: 1859
Platforms: 1
Redditch is the Southern terminus of the Cross-City Line (the other end being Lichfield Trent Valley). The station was opened in 1859 at the end of a new branch line built by the Midland Railway from the Birmingham & Gloucester Line at Barnt Green.

Later on the Evesham & Redditch Railway built a line South from Redditch via Evesham to Ashchurch. This line was closed to passengers in 1962 and closed completely two years later. The line from Barnt Green was also nearly a victim of the Beeching cuts but survived thanks to a local campaign. Services were greatly improved when the Cross-City Line was inaugurated in the late 1970s with more regular services to Birmingham.

The station was moved in 1992 to make space for a new bus station and shopping mall, this was done as part of the Cross-City Line's electrification upgrade. Redditch is one of only two stations on the line to have a single platform though does have a booking office and waiting room.
LM 323 218 has just arrived

General view of the station

Station building

Looking down the platform

LM 323 218 preparing to return up the line