Enthusiasm in Kings Heath can be infectious and when it comes to talk of having a railway station so that this important centre in South Birmingham rejoins the National Rail Network, there is need for an isolation ward.
The people of Kings Heath are not being unreasonable or unrealistic in their ambition for rail. Trains run past on what is called the Camp Hill Line. For years the request was made for a station and cash-starved British Rail pointed out that the Camp Hill Line leads to New Street station in the City Centre that simply cannot take any more traffic.
Some years ago, the heaving New Street Station was a factor in the decision to put back the railway from Smethwick to Birmingham New Street station and to divert trains from places such as Kidderminster to the new stations of Snow Hill and Moor Street. There seemed to be a new direction for Birmingham’s railways and a study commissioned a few years ago, the West Midlands Multi Modal Study, looking desperately for a way to expand the railways, ruled that a Snow Hill Network is part of the answer.
It is the Snow Hill Network that lies behind the Birmingham City Council study that would connect Kings Heath to Snow Hill (and in the other direction to Longbridge and Bromsgrove). Unsurprisingly the study found no great problems with the idea as the biggest ‘challenge’ will be to build a viaduct near Camp Hill locks on the canal. From the Friends of the Earth side, it seems a pity to build more infrastructure to encourage people to travel.
The balance has to be struck though as low speed rail can move a lot of people and really does not use much energy. People are going to move from home to work and surely the important thing is to put some efforts into journeys that accommodate benign walking and cycling.
The word from the people on Kings Heath High Street is that they want to have a railway station. As individuals we can also pass the message to the railway owner through their website www.networkrail.co.uk.
The role of Friends of the Earth is to encourage people to take an interest in changing the world – for the better. For the Rail Campaign, it is many individuals making a small effort that can turn the signals to Green. Don’t forget to send your comments to Network Rail.