Wednesday, 31 August 2016

Aston (AST)

Type: National Rail (Cross-City & Chase Lines)
Station code: AST
Opened: 1837
Aston station lies on the junction of the Cross-City & Chase Lines in Aston on the Lichfield Road (though isn't the nearest station to Aston Villa's ground, thats Witton!)

The station first opened in 1837 as part of the Grand Junction Railway. Like a number of stations in inner Birmingham it is built on an embankment with access to the platforms via stairways and lifts. The station has a ticket office and shelters on both platforms. Interchange between the platforms is via street level.

As well as services to the City Centre there are also London Midland services to Wolverhampton, Walsall, Lichfield, Sutton Coldfield, Rugeley, Redditch and Longbridge from the station.
323 211 departs on a Lichfield bound service

Looking North to the junction

The ticket office on Platform 1

Shelter on Platform 2

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Liverpool James Street (LVJ)

Type: National Rail (Merseyrail)
Station code: LVJ
Opened: 1886
One of the underground stations at the core of the Merseyrail system, Liverpool James Street (usually referred to as just James Street) is the oldest deep level underground station in the world along with Hamilton Square on the other side of the Mersey.

Originally James Street was the Liverpool side terminus of the line that ran through the railway tunnel that ran under the Mersey but later became a through station as the network grew under Liverpool with the building of the loop (opening in 1977) [1] which linked the Wirral Line with the Northern Line. The station has 3 platforms though only 2 are in regular use, the other platform (platform 2) is only used if the loop under central Liverpool is closed and is then used for trains terminating from the Wirral.

Services from the Wirral stop at Platform 1, the trains then heading onto the loop via Moorfields, Liverpool Central and Lime Street before arriving back at James Street on Platform 3. From here services cross over to the Wirral and go to New Brighton, Ellesmere Port, Chester and other destinations [2].

The current surface building dates from the 1960s with major work on the station occuring in the 1970s (see above) and 2000s. Access to the platforms from the surface is via 4 lifts.

Station entrance

Signage for platform 3

Normally disused Platform 2 which has this frieze artwork

507 028 arrives at Platform 3 on a New Brighton bound service

[1] Jonathan Cadwallader & Martin Jenkins, Merseyside Electrics (Ian Allan, 2010) p. 4
[2] Chris Heaps, BR Diary 1968-1977 (Ian Allan, 1988) p. 114

Friday, 19 August 2016


Type: London Underground (Piccadilly Line)
Opened: 1907
Closed: 1994
Aldwych is probably the most famous of the various disused, but still extant, stations on the London Underground. The station was originally called Strand after the street the station is located on and was the terminus of a short branch of the Piccadilly Line from Holborn.

Strand, which was renamed Aldwych in 1915, always struggled for custom. Originally it had 2 platforms but one platform was closed as early as 1917 and later used to store paintings from the National Gallery [1] during the zeppelin bombing raids late in World War 1. During World War 2 the station was fully closed and used as an air raid shelter. Low passenger numbers continued to dog the station and it was considered for closure many times with various schemes for extensions coming to nothing. The station was reprieved over and over again but in the early 1990s the original lifts needed replacement and the cost was uneconomic considering less than 500 people typically used the station every day so Aldwych closed for good in 1994 [2].

Or did it? Infact the station had remained intact and continues to be used for filming and training purposes as well as regular tours. Aldwych has a number of historic items of interest including the surviving original rail on platform 1 which is the oldest surviving rail on the Underground dating from the early 20th century. Much of the interior of the station has been unchanged for decades and can give an idea of how the Underground looked in the mid-20th century though some features are "faux" vintage and are additions to help with filming the various films and TV shows that have used the station. The station was also used to test designs for tiling and paint schemes from the 1920s onwards [3].

The station and branch line currently remains connected to the rest of the Underground and a working train of 1972 Tube Stock is stabled at the station.
One of the entrances on Surrey Street

Ticket Hall

Another view inside the ticket hall, the lifts on the left

Platform 1 showing the original track

1972 Tube Stock on platform 2

[1] Antony Badsey-Ellis & Mike Horne, The Aldwych Branch (Capital Transport, 2009) p. 41
[2] Ben Pedroche, Do Not Alight Here (Capital History, 2011) p.14
[3] Badsey-Ellis & Horne p. 75

Wednesday, 10 August 2016

Hatton (HTN)

Type: National Rail (Chiltern Line)
Station code: HTN
Opened: 1852
Hatton sits at the junction of the Chiltern Main Line and a branch line to Stratford-upon-Avon. Originally Hatton was quite an extensive station with a ticket office, goods sidings, three signal boxes and a turntable but all of these are long gone now! [1]

Nowadays the station is an unmanned halt with just a couple of bus shelters, a footbridge and a permit to travel machine. The railway lines still exist though but most trains do not stop at the station these days but it is still pretty well connected with 3 platforms in use. During the day there are services between Birmingham Moor Street and Leamington Spa every couple of hours and regular services between Leamington Spa and Stratford-upon-Avon. There are also a few services through to Worcester and London Marylebone in the mornings and evenings.
View from the road bridge looking towards Leamington Spa

A Birmingham bound express powers through behind a Class 67

Signal for the Stratford branch

The view towards Birmingham, which is where this Chiltern DMU is bound

[1] Vic Mitchell & Keith Smith, Stratford-upon-Avon to Birmingham (Moor Street) (Middleton Press, 2006) p. 6