BrownhillsBob's #365daysofbiking

On a bike, riding somewhere. Every day, rain or shine.

Posts tagged ‘railway’

#365daysifbiking Oddly empty

February 5th – Passing through Birmingham New Street Station on my way home, it was rush hour and the place was rammed, as usual.

Being a cyclist, I tend to hang out ant the periphery of the crowd, better to not get in the way.

I looked to my right as the train came in from my left, and realised that at peak time, the station had nobody visible and all the signals were on red.

A few seconds later, people appeared and broke the spell…

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#365daysifbiking Kind of blue

January 30th – I came back to Shenstone to a glass hard dusk: It was well past 5pm and the light hadn’t yet drained away leaving the sky to the west a beautiful deep blue.

It’s so good to see the lengthening day – soon sunset will be well past 5pm – and this means I’ll be entering the season of the commute sunset, which I always enjoy.

It the mean time, Shenstone again reminded me of what a wonderful place it is to come back to.

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#365daysifbiking The grey way

January 20th – The McClean Way, the trail that follows the former South Staffordshire Railway out of Walsall and is now being extended by volunteers up through Brownhills is beautiful, even on a cold, grey Sunday afternoon.

Clayhanger Marsh, which the trail is embanked above, was brooding and deathly quiet, and I didn’t;t see another soul. The only colour was from the graffiti on the old railway over bridge at the Wyrley and Essington Canal near the Pelsall Road.

This is a fairly unique bridge and is actually a listed structure. I note it’s had it’s number re-stencilled recently, indicating that Network Rail, the ultimate owners, still regard it as an asset.

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#365daysifbiking A positive signal

January 20th – A belated trip on another awfully grim day to see the restored signal beside the cycleway at Clayhanger Marsh, that the lovely people from Back the Track have painted and restored to its former glory.

These guys do a brilliant job of creating and maintaining the semi-official cycle path and walking route along the old South Staffordshire line – now called the McCLean Way – and this is a superb little project.

I love the trail logo fontal on the top. A lovely touch.

Thanks to all who work on this great project!

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#365daysifbiking I dream of wires

January 4th – A stop on the way home on the North Street Bridge, the crossing point between Walsall’s Butts area and Birchills. The view from the railway bridge to the new college and town has always been great at night.

But sadly, no more.

The welcome electrification of the Chase Line railway below has had an unfortunate side effect of ruining the shot, with the overhead gantry stealing the foreground. But I don’t mind – I’d rather have the more reliable commuter service.

The college anyway was dull and in darkness, clearly not open yet from the Christmas break, and Austin House with it’s peculiar white halo was stark in the darkness.

Ah well, change is what happens while you’re not looking… There are other aspects on this view, I guess…

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#365daysofbiking Pork squared


December 15th – I popped up to the Christmas Market at Chasewater Railway, hoping to catch a little of the festive spirit, and despite the weather putting a dampener on things, it was actually a great event. Plenty of stalls with interesting stuff and some decent entertainment coupled with a decent butty in the cafe.

The rain, however, was relentless.

You can tell it’s a Black Country event when they sell exotic flavours of pork scratchings, though – although the apparent tautological pointlessness of bacon flavour had me a bit nonplussed…

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#365daysofbiking The Crossing:

December 13th – A bright, glass hard, cold day saw me in Telford mid-morning, and in the week or two I haven’t been here, the new footbridge has opened.

Man, is it a curate’s egg.

First thing is, someone clearly booked the possessions and plant to remove the old bridge for a fixed date, and the new one had to open. Regardless. So it’s not in even a nearly finished state. Brick cladding is still being laid. The access ramp to the cycleway on the Priorslee side is still being built. Bits of it haven’t been surfaced properly or at all. Workmen still mingle with commuters. It’s a bloody mess if I’m honest.

The bridge itself is an interesting, open construction that’s light and airy. It makes the journey between platforms one hell of a lot shorter. The lifts are welcome. It feels stable and the thing seems to be a nice, rigid design.

But there’s a huge, massive, glaring issue.

There is no ramp access to the Shrewsbury side of the station. So wheelies and those not able to use steps are confined to the lift. If that isn’t working, someone alighting here from Brum or Wolves will be stranded on a platform next to a 6 lane road with no means to cross it. There is no simple way around.

I can’t overstate how bad this is if it’s the final design.

If the bridge does not eventually provide ramp access to the Shrewsbury platform, then it will have failed in its primary objective – to make life easier for those that found the old ramp too steep. The designers will have spent 10 million quid making the use of this station for those with limited mobility much more of a gamble.

I hope I’m wrong and a ramp is sorted. If not, the council and Network Rail really need to rethink this urgently.

The bridge is nice, but too reliant on lifts, and at the moment is very much unfinished. Open too soon, and at the moment, looking critically flawed.

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#365daysofbiking Stationary traveller:

November 28th – Birmingham New Street, not long after dawn on a grey, wet, miserable winter morning.

Despite it’s faults, despite it’s awful turd-polishing in the Grand Central fiasco, despite it’s continual propensity to be host to disappointment and frustration, this subterranean station is in my heart and soul, and feels like home.

The lights, the people, even, no – especially the steel horse.

I love this city. I love this place. With all my heart. But often, it feels unrequited.

#365daysofbiking Electric night:

November 26th – A quick shot passing through New Street station in the evening.

The skyline from here, considering how low you are from street level, is remarkable, and I love the way the machinery, lights, signals and surfaces mix.

A real late night feelings shot.