The Class 323 is one of my favourite trains to ride on in Birmingham. Here we will look at this Electrical Multiple Unit from Lichfield Trent Valley, via Birmingham New Street, down to Redditch. And now a newly opened extension to Bromsgrove! The Cross City South includes the line down beyond Longbridge. Cross City North beyond Sutton Coldfield. Staffordshire to Worcestershire.

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The Class 323 EMU's on the Cross City Line: Lichfield via Birmingham New Street to Redditch or Bromsgrove





The Class 323 is one of my favourite trains to ride on in Birmingham. Here we will look at this Electrical Multiple Unit from Lichfield Trent Valley, via Birmingham New Street, down to Redditch. And now a newly opened extension to Bromsgrove! The Cross City South includes the line down beyond Longbridge. Cross City North beyond Sutton Coldfield. Staffordshire to Worcestershire.


Cross City Line

The Cross City Line opened in 1978. It was extended to Redditch in 1980 and to Lichfield Trent Valley in 1988. The service was extended to Bromsgrove by 2018. The route was electrified in the 1990s, being completed by 1993. The Class 323 Electric Multiple Units first introduced on the service around 1994. After the creation of the Franchising system, Central Trains ran the Cross City line from 1997 to 2007, then London Midland from 2007 to 2017. And now West Midlands Railway from late 2017 to present.

 

Lichfield Trent Valley Station

One of my first rides on the Cross City Line was to Lichfield Trent Valley during early January 2012. The redevelopment of Birmingham New Street Station was in it's earliest years, and I got a train up from Kings Norton. London Midland 323214 was my ride to Lichfield that day. The current northern end of the line / terminus, on the High Level. The Low Level is on the West Coast Main Line, between London Euston and Crewe (back then London Midland, now London Northwestern Railway). You would see non-stopping Virgin Trains services passing there! In Staffordshire.

Lichfield City Station

I have visited Lichfield City Station twice. The first time in January 2012 coming back from my day out in Lichfield. The second time for a return visit during April 2016. The only Class 323 exterior I took there was in 2012. London Midland 323207 was my train back to Kings Norton.

We will next skip a few stations until Four Oaks (I have not got off at the stations in between).

Four Oaks Station

A visit to Four Oaks in Sutton Coldfield during October 2018. By then many of the Class 323 trains under West Midlands Railway were in a orange and white livery. I caught this train West Midlands Railway 323 204 from Birmingham New Street. Mere Green was in walking distance of the station with a new shopping centre. This was platform 3 where the service terminated, it would have waited a while before heading back to Birmingham.

Sutton Coldfield Station

My first visit to Sutton Coldfield by train was during January 2017. Seen arriving at the station was London Midland 323211 on it's way to Lichfield Trent Valley (the destination display doesn't come out too well in photos). I got the train to Sutton Coldfield again during August 2017 while on the Big Sleuth hunt (I didn't go up for the Big Hoot in 2015, as I hadn't visited Sutton Coldfield with my camera at that time). It's also now possible to get the X4 or X5 buses up to Sutton Coldfield instead (much longer journey though). You can see planes coming into land at Birmingham Airport from here.

While I've seen Wylde Green Station, I've not waited to catch a train from there. I almost went down there on my second rail visit to Sutton Coldfield, but ended up getting a bus back to Sutton Coldfield Town Centre, after finding some more Big Sleuth bears in August 2017. Chester Road in Erdington next.

Chester Road Station

My first visit to Erdington by train was during May 2014, mainly to check out the Josiah Mason bust for the first time. So I got the Cross City line up to Chester Road. My more recent second visit was in December 2018. I had got the 11A Outer Circle bus to Erdington, then walked up the High Street, then up Orphanage Road towards the Josiah Mason bust (to see it for a second time). After that I walked up Chester Road to the station. I caught West Midlands Railway 323221 back to Birmingham New Street.

Erdington Station

My May 2014 visit to Erdington that started at Chester Road ended up at Erdington Station. Seen here was London Midland 323207 on it's way to Lichfield Trent Valley. This station is a good place to see planes taking off from Birmingham Airport! Something else other than trains while waiting for my train back to Birmingham New Street.

Gravelly Hill Station

Headed to Gravelly Hill during April 2015, to walk under Spaghetti Junction. My train back to Birmingham New Street had London Midland 323212 at the front (seen below in the photo) and 323243 (which I got on). It's always nice to ride on the train between Gravelly Hill and Aston, below the concrete lanes of Spaghetti Junction, more unique than going in a car! Salford Junction is also nearby, a junction of several canals.

Aston Station

I've been to Aston Station several times over the years. First got off there in 2012. I've also been there in 2016 and 2017. The line to Walsall on the Chase Line diverts to the left, while the line to Sutton Coldfield and Lichfield goes to the right. On New Years Day 2016, I got London Midland 323208 from Birmingham New Street to Aston. This train was going to Lichfield Trent Valley.

Duddeston Station

My first visit to the Birmingham Museums Collections Centre included a stop off at Duddeston on London Midland 323218, which I caught from Kings Norton, in May 2012. Back then I wasn't comfortable with starting at Birmingham New Street, and I used to get the 11C bus to Kings Norton (it was also before I figured out you could buy a ticket on the Snow Hill lines to a destination on another line). Dollman Street is just round the corner from here. Before I left the station, I checked out the face art sculptures on the platform.

Cross City North is done above, now for Birmingham New Street, before we explore Cross City South!

Birmingham New Street Station

Many trips on the Cross City line normally start for me from Birmingham New Street, so I don't always take photos of the Class 323 there! I've been taking photos of these trains there since about 2010. I've watched the station transform from 2010 to 2015, and have continued to use it since it's been completed! I first saw a Class 323 in West Midlands Railway orange and white at Bournville, where I caught this train. West Midlands Railway 323204 seen at Birmingham New Street during August 2018. It stopped at platform 8a.

Five Ways Station

Not a brilliant photo, but a London Midland Class 323 seen at Five Ways station during January 2015 from Bath Row. It is also possible to see the station from Islington Row Middleway, or from the steps down the Worcester & Birmingham Canal. I did once try out using this staiton during April 2015. But didn't get any photos of any Class 323's while I was there. I did get a Class 170, but the only Class 323 I took was going into the tunnel and I had just missed it!

University Station

Went to University Station during July 2017 while on the Big Sleuth hunt. Was several bears to be found around the University of Birmingham. Seen at the station was London Midland 323208. I travelled from Birmingham International via Birmingham New Street to University that day! Was also bears at Resorts World. I previously tried to use the station in March 2012 to go to Tamworth, but ended up catching another Cross City train to New Street, and catching a Cross Country train from New Street to Tamworth (back then). Cross Country do stop at University though!

Selly Oak Station

The West Midlands railway franchise transferred over from London Midland to West Midlands Railway during December 2017. Here was West Midlands Railway 323204 at a snowy Selly Oak. The first time I've used the station. I mostly get the bus to and from Selly Oak! 323221 was at the other end. Loads of delays that day, probably due to the snow! Some trains were cancelled due to the weather. Not really the best day to try out Selly Oak Station!

Bournville Station

This station is next to the Worcester & Birmingham Canal and is your stop for Cadbury World. Seen in October 2011 was London Midland 323215. This was before I started using the Cross City Line (from 2012 onwards). This ramp leads from the Mary Vale Road bridge, and goes down to the towpath of the canal, as well as to the station. I later actually used the station in 2014, 2015, 2017 and 2018.

Kings Norton Station

Before I was comfortable with getting trains from Birmingham New Street, I used to get them from Kings Norton. Seen arriving here was London Midland 323212 during April 2012. Which I got to Longbridge. Platform 4, as platforms 2 and 3 are abandoned. Platform 1 is for trains to Birmingham and Sutton Coldfield. Other fast trains pass through here too!

Northfield Station

I have used Northfield Station a few times in my travels, but not really taken a photo of a Class 323 from the platform. This one of a West Midlands Railway Class 323 in orange and white was seen from another train during November 2018.

Longbridge Station

An ideal station to get to, to explore the new Longbridge Town Centre. I've been to this station many times. Seen opposite was London Midland 323212 during April 2012, which I'd earlier got down to Longbridge. Before the extension to Bromsgrove this was a terminus for most trains, with at least one an hour going to Redditch. The station building here is now being redeveloped. It's the last station in Birmingham on the line to the south. The last four below are all in Worcestershire.

Barnt Green Station

At Barnt Green the lines splits. One to Redditch, the other to Bromsgrove and Worcester. On the Cross City line, the trains stop at Barnt Green for Redditch, as it curves to the left.  I got London Midland 323217 from Birmingham New Street. I got off here, but the train was going to Redditch. On my second visit during April 2017 I went to the Lickey Hills Country Park. A long hard walk up the hill (I walked back to the station via the roads nearby).

Alvechurch Station

A visit to Alvechurch in Worcestershire during February 2016. The station now has two platforms where as before it used to have one. London Midland 323219. My train back to Birmingham New Street,

Redditch Station

I first got a train to Redditch during January 2013. I arrived on London Midland 323210. A single platform station it is the current end of the line. There is an old railway tunnel nearby with street art. My second visit in November 2017 was before the end of the London Midland franchise.

Bromsgrove Station

I've been to Bromsgrove 3 times. First in 2013 to the old station, second in 2016 to the new station. In November 2018 I returned again after electrification to Bromsgrove was complete and the Cross City line extended services from Longbridge. Seen here was West Midlands Railway 323216. In orange and white, my ride back to Birmingham New Street. It did not stop at Barnt Green.

Photos taken by Elliott Brown

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