Planning permission has been granted for two new railway stations on the Walsall to Wolverhampton line, marking a major milestone in the project to restore passenger services to this part of the Black Country.
The stations at Darlaston and Willenhall will offer local residents vastly improved connections to Wolverhampton, Walsall and Birmingham New Street stations when they open in 2023.
Now that approval has been obtained from Walsall Council’s planning committee, the project can move forward to the next stage. An invitation to tender has been issued for construction of the stations, with a view to appointing a contractor by next spring.
Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands, said: “Restoring passenger services to the Walsall to Wolverhampton railway line is a critical part of our transport strategy for the West Midlands, and we have taken another step towards achieving that vision by securing planning approval for these new stations at Darlaston and Willenhall. We are now looking to get work underway as soon as possible, and our search for a construction contractor has already begun.
“People have been waiting a long time to see services restored, and these better connections will be a catalyst for regeneration in this part of the Black Country. As well as unlocking land for industrial and housing development and improving transport links across the region, the construction of the two stations will provide work for local people at this difficult time, helping to protect and create new jobs in the West Midlands.”
Willenhall Station will be sited next to the Bilston Street railway bridge close to the town centre, while Darlaston Station, which will include a 300-space car park, will be built on derelict land next to the Kendricks Road bridge.
Passenger trains last called at stations in Willenhall and Darlaston more than 50 years ago and the line between Walsall and Wolverhampton has been used only by freight services since 2008.
Earlier this year agreement was reached with Network Rail for the operation of an hourly service between Walsall and Wolverhampton and an hourly service between Birmingham New Street and Wolverhampton to call at the stations.
Deputy leader of Walsall Council, Cllr Adrian Andrew, said: “This is massive step forward for the borough and the new stations will open up huge new opportunities for people to visit Willenhall and Darlaston and importantly open up regional and national opportunities for jobs, education and leisure for local people of all ages.
“These pieces in the jigsaw of regenerating our borough are a game changer for many communities”