Photo: Wikimedia/Ben Brooksbank

The former station at Alrewas was demolished after the withdrawal of local passenger services in January 1965, but the line remains open for freight and diversions.

UK: Proposals to restore local passenger services on the line between Lichfield and Burton upon Trent have been presented to Rail Minister Wendy Morton by the West Midlands Rail Executive.

The 9 km route between Lichfield Trent Valley and Wichnor Junction on the Birmingham – Tamworth – Burton – Derby main line is used by freight traffic and empty passenger trains to and from Central Rivers depot, as well as acting as a diversionary route for CrossCountry services. Local passenger services were withdrawn in 1965.

Proposals for restoring passenger services and opening new stations at Alrewas and Barton under Needwood were floated in 2018. The West Midlands Combined Authority envisages that a regular rail service could reduce commuting on the A38 trunk road. However, a bid for seed funding from the government’s Restoring Your Railway Fund was unsuccessful.

The project has been branded as the Arboretum Line, as the line would serve the National Memorial Arboretum at Alrewas. This currently attracts more than 300 000 visitors per year, but that figure is projected to increase to an estimated 500 000 with the provision of effective public transport.


WMRE Executive Director Malcolm Holmes (left) and National Memorial Arboretum Managing Director Philippa Rawlinson outlined the proposals to Rail Minister Wendy Morton and Lichfield MP Michael Fabricant on January 13. 

Presenting the project to Morton and Lichfield MP Michael Fabricant on January 13, WMRE Executive Director Malcolm Holmes explained that the agency was currently developing a plan ‘through which we could establish a basic service relatively quickly and scale up over time’.

Reopening would require some resignalling and track improvements, as well as the new stations. Future electrification at 25 kV 50 Hz would facilitate the operation of through services from Birmingham via the Cross-City line.

‘There is a very strong case to open this line, not least for the thousands of visitors who go to the National Memorial Arboretum every week’, Holmes explained. Managing Director Philippa Rawlinson confirmed that a regular service would be highly beneficial’, adding that ‘we are committed to improving accessibility for visitors who rely on public transport or those who wish to use more sustainable methods to travel.’

‘I can fully understand how this scheme has the potential to reduce the pressure of road traffic on the busy A38 and improve rail connectivity in this part of the Midlands’, said Morton. ‘Today’s visit has put this scheme very much on my radar.’