Popular
TransportAndUs – A FreeTimePays community
Launch date: September 2018
Combined FreeTimePays following: 101K


Community sponsors:

Transport
17 Dec 2019 - Elliott Brown
News & Updates

The Westside Metro extension now open to Centenary Square and some trams with reindeer names

With no announcement, the Westside Metro extension to Centenary Square was open to the public on Wednesday 11th December 2019. I wasn't able to get down to ride the newly opened extension until Saturday 14th December 2019. For the Christmas season, West Midlands Metro has name some of their trams with Christmas reindeer names such as Rudolph, Comet and Dasher.

Related View community

The Westside Metro extension now open to Centenary Square and some trams with reindeer names





With no announcement, the Westside Metro extension to Centenary Square was open to the public on Wednesday 11th December 2019. I wasn't able to get down to ride the newly opened extension until Saturday 14th December 2019. For the Christmas season, West Midlands Metro has name some of their trams with Christmas reindeer names such as Rudolph, Comet and Dasher.


Tram 22 Dasher

Sunday 8th December 2019, and on this day we did not know when the extension to Centenary Square would open. I walked along Arena Central, passing HSBC UK at 1 Centenary Square and the Municipal Bank redevelopment. Fencing was still up, while a rainbow was behind the Library of Birmingham and the Birmingham Big Wheel.

Before services started, from the 1st December 2019 onwards, trams were leaving Grand Central and heading to Library Tram Stop without passengers. Close up of tram 22 Dasher

The Dasher name is temporary. Will probably be removed in January 2020.

The end of the line (for now) was looking like a mess. The extension to Hagley Road will open in 2 years time in 2021, only they have to build it first along Broad Street.

Tram 36 Rudolph

On Saturday 14th December 2019, it was my first day back in Birmingham City Centre for several days. And when I got to Birmingham New Street Station, I purchased an Adult off peak day ticket in the My Metro app. And rode tram 36 from Grand Central to the newly opened Library Tram Stop in Centenary Square.

For the Christmas period tram 36 is called Rudolph. Seen behind was the Library of Birmingham, Star Flyer and Birmingham Big Wheel.

Zoom in of the temporary Rudolph name.

The trams for now can use both platforms, and there is crossing tracks just in front of the tram stop. Beyond here is hoardings as they still need to build the second Westside extension which will take another two years to complete. Reflection of HSBC UK at 1 Centenary Square in the Hyatt Regency Birmingham hotel.

Tram 36 seem heading back to Wolverhampton, as I made the short walk into the Library of Birmingham for views of the trams from above. Not too long to wait this time around as only every 6 minutes Monday's to Saturday's (every 15 minutes on Sunday's but the Library is closed on that day).

Tram 25

First up views from the Discovery Terrace at the Library of Birmingham. Tram 25 seen at platform 2 at Library Tram Stop. The Birmingham Big Wheel was in the way of this view.

One of the trams with lime green OLA adverts. It now has batteries on top. But currently in white not yet blue outside.

No temporary reindeer name on this tram.

Tram 25 is now seen leaving platform 2 at Library Tram Stop on it's way to Wolverhampton. It is passing the Municipal Bank site for the University of Birmingham. On the right is 5 Centenary Square (formerly 1 Arena Central). But that hasn't started yet. Was the site of the Register Office. The tram shelter on platform 1 is close to the site of where the Boulton, Watt & Murdoch statue was from 1956 to 2017.

Tram 25 seen heading round Paradise Circus. Cones on the road. Only the southbound lanes are open at the moment.

A taxi waits at the traffic light as tram 25 heads to Paradise Street and Town Hall Tram Stop.

Tram 23 Comet

Last saw this tram here on a test in November 2019. I headed up to the Secret Garden at the Library of Birmingham when I saw this tram again. In this view heading up Paradise Street towards Paradise Circus.

Heading around Paradise Circus. Easy Row Subway below is still closed to pedestrians, but the bridge has been reinforced and rebuilt before they even laid tracks here.

Coming into Centenary Square, in what until a few years ago was part of Broad Street.

Crossing tracks and heading to platform 2 at Library Tram Stop. Behind is HSBC UK at 1 Centenary Square. They have also built new roads which in future will be used by buses.

As it headed into the tram stop, passing the Municipal Bank, some scaffolding on the left appears to have been removed.

Pavements on both sides of the road are now free of temporary barriers. Apart from in front of 1 Centenary Square and the Municipal Bank to the left.

Had to wait for some passengers to get off before I could get this zoom in of th Comet name.

Doors open, passengers heading into Centenary Square. They have also installed new bus stops.

Tram 30

It was getting dark as early as between 3pm and 3:30pm and it was time to get my next tram towards Jewellery Quarter. Tram 30 seen coming from Paradise Circus into Centenary Square.

It was about to cross tracks and head towards platform 2. Behind is a new view of Two Chamberlain Square and the Library of Birmingham.

Tram 30 now at platform 2 at Library Tram Stop. On the right is the Arena Central development with HSBC UK at 1 Centenary Square and 3 Arena Central (for HMRC I think).

Between Library and Grand Central the tram was nice and quiet. One of the monitors on board showing Library Centenary Square.

The view from my seat. The tram was about to depart. After Grand Central the tram got quite full, of Christmas shoppers etc, and I got off at Jewellery Quarter to check out the Banksy and see what all the fuss was about.

Jewellery Quarter

After riding the tram all the way from Library Tram Stop I got off the busy tram 30 at Jewellery Quarter Tram Stop. On the opposite platform was tram 34.

St Paul's

After checking out the Banksy on Vyse Street, I walked down Great Hampton Street and Constitution Hill. I saw the bridge down on Livery Street to popped there first which is actually on Northwood Street. Tram 28 was leaving St Chad's Tram Stop.

Birmingham Snow Hill Station behind, tram 28 Jasper Carrott slowly head's to St Paul's from St Chad's, while West Midlands Railway 172 342 heads towards Jewellery Quarter after leaving platform 1.

A Chiltern Railways Class 168 was in it's usual spot at platform 2, as the tortoise vs hare race was clearly being won by West Midlands Railway!

Tram 28 about to arrive at St Paul's Tram Stop as the train headed into the Jewellery Quarter tunnels towards Jewellery Quarter Station. A Matter of Opinion on the right as well as a train not in service.

Jasper Carrot tram 28 coming to a stop to pick up passengers towards Wolverhampton. It was time to walk down to St Paul's Tram Stop with the entrance to the left on Constitution Hill.

I only just got to the tram stop when I saw the tram arriving. Tram 32 is one of those lime green OLA advert trams now with batteries. Seen coming through the Jewellery Quarter tunnels.

I got tram 32 towards Bull Street. Standing room only. All stops after this one on the extensions. St Paul's is the last tram stop to open in 1999 that is closest to the City Centre after the original Snow Hill Tram Stop closed in 2015.

Bull Street

Standing room only on tram 32, I got off at Bull Street Tram Stop instead of Corporation Street. Although both are in walking distance of my usual bus stop on Carrs Lane. The Lewis Building to the right.

As Tram 32 was about to turn onto Corporation Street, I saw tram 17 about to turn onto Bull Street. It was getting dark now, so was time to head to my bus home.

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

Follow me on Twitter here ellrbrown.

Share  Connect with us
70 passion points
Transport
11 Dec 2019 - Elliott Brown
News & Updates

Virgin Trains: end of an era (1997 - 2019). From Wolverhampton to Coventry via Birmingham New Street

The 22 year long West Coast Mainline franchise with Virgin Trains finally came to an end on Saturday 7th December 2019. The franchise started in March 1997, and has had many extensions since. Almost losing it to First in 2012. The franchise will be taken over by Avanti West Coast on Sunday 8th December 2019. On trains from Birmingham New Street to London Euston, and other lines.

Related View community

Virgin Trains: end of an era (1997 - 2019). From Wolverhampton to Coventry via Birmingham New Street





The 22 year long West Coast Mainline franchise with Virgin Trains finally came to an end on Saturday 7th December 2019. The franchise started in March 1997, and has had many extensions since. Almost losing it to First in 2012. The franchise will be taken over by Avanti West Coast on Sunday 8th December 2019. On trains from Birmingham New Street to London Euston, and other lines.


A look at various Virgin Trains seen over the years between Wolverhampton and Coventry via Birmingham New Street. Either Class 390 Pendolino or Class 221 Super Voyager. The Super Voyager's either headed up to Glasgow or Edinburgh. Or up to Holyhead in Wales via Shrewsbury.

The Virgin Trains West Coast Franchise ran from the 9th March 1997 until the 7th December 2019. The Diesel Electric Multiple Units known as Super Voyager's were introduced in 2001. While the Electric Multiple Units known as Pendolino's came into service in 2002.

 

Wolverhampton Station

Seen at Wolverhampton Station during March 2019 was this Virgin Trains Super Voyager 221 117. It was going to London Euston. It's next stop would be Sandwell & Dudley. And would go via Birmingham New Street of course.

Tipton Station

Seen passing Tipton Station (they don't stop here) during November 2017 was this Virgin Trains Super Voyager. At least 10 carriages from two 5 carriage Class 221 trains. Passing at speed.

Sandwell & Dudley Station

Seen in September 2016 at Sandwell & Dudley Station (near Oldbury) was this Virgin Trains Super Voyager. I caught this train back to Birmingham New Street. 10 carriages, but standing room only.

Smethwick Galton Bridge Station

In November 2017 saw this Virgin Trains Class 390 Pendolino passing Smethwick Galton Bridge Station on the Low Level. I was at platform 3. You can use this station to interchange between the Snow Hill lines (high level) and Wolverhampton to Birmingham line (low level). But never with Virgin. In the past was London Midland, now West Midlands Railway and London Northwestern Railway.

Smethwick Rolfe Street Station

Passing the mural at Smethwick Rolfe Street Station during November 2017 was this Virgin Trains Pendolino. It was heading towards Wolverhampton.

Birmingham New Street Station

Seen during September 2012, at Birmingham New Street Station was this Virgin Trains Pendolino at Platform 1. Going past the block built for Network Rail. Which is near Navigation Street (and between Pinfold Street and Hill Street in the City Centre). Even in 2012 it seemed like the West Coast would be taken over by First, but it got delayed. And the bidding redone.

Stechford Station

Seen passing Stechford Station in October 2018 was this Virgin Trains Pendolino. 390 114. In the last few years many of the Pendolino's got a new red livery. That was until all the Pendolino's were stripped back to all white before Avanti West Coast takes over. This station is having a new footbridge built, and I returned well over a year later to this station. Was a temporary footbridge in use, while the new one is being built. Would assume the new footbridge will open sometime in 2020? The previous concrete footbridge that used to be here was old looking and tired. The new one will have lifts.

Marston Green Station

This Virgin Trains Pendolino was seen passing Marston Green Station during February 2015. This station is close to the Sheldon Country Park and the plane spotting area in the park. From the station you can probably only see the planes from the footbridges, and not sitting down on one of the benches. But you can here the planes from here though.

Birmingham International Station

Stopping at Birmingham International Station during February 2018 was this Virgin Trains Pendolino 390 043. I caught this train from Birmingham New Street. But switched trains on the day I travelled to Berkswell (having to wait for the next London Northwestern Railway train there). The Pendolino at 9 or 11 carriages was quite packed!

Berkswell Station

Passing Berskwell Station at speed was this Virgin Trains Pendolino. Seen during February 2018. You could feel the rush of air as the fast trains went past you. So "Stand behind the yellow line". Or sit on the bench like I was doing. I have also been to Hampton-in-Arden Station back in October 2017, but didn't see any Virgin Trains in the time that I was at that station.

Coventry Station

We finish our journey from Wolverhampton at Coventry Station. Seen during May 2015 was this Virgin Trains Pendolino. Welcome to Coventry. This train was at the time named Virgin Champion. 390016. This train was going from London Euston to Edinburgh Waverley. I caught it to Birmingham New Street.

Good luck to Avanti West Coast who took over the West Coast Mainline on Sunday 8th December 2019.

 

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

Follow me on Twitter here ellrbrown.

Share  Connect with us
50 passion points
Transport
03 Dec 2019 - Elliott Brown
Gallery

West Midlands Metro trams 34 and 35 on a test run between Grand Central and Town Hall (November 2019)

West Midlands Metro had trams 34 and 35 out at lunchtime on the 20th November 2019. When I saw them go between Grand Central Tram Stop on Stephenson Street to Town Hall Tram Stop on Paradise Street (I didn't have time to go to Centenary Square). They kept going up and down Pinfold Street, using the stop at Grand Central that has been out of service for a few years.

Related View community

West Midlands Metro trams 34 and 35 on a test run between Grand Central and Town Hall (November 2019)





West Midlands Metro had trams 34 and 35 out at lunchtime on the 20th November 2019. When I saw them go between Grand Central Tram Stop on Stephenson Street to Town Hall Tram Stop on Paradise Street (I didn't have time to go to Centenary Square). They kept going up and down Pinfold Street, using the stop at Grand Central that has been out of service for a few years.


This observation of the trams on a test run was on the lunchtime of Wednesday 20th November 2019. Involving trams 34 and 35. On this day I popped up towards Victoria Square, then back down to Stephenson Street. I saw tram 23 on a test run between the Town Hall and Centenary Square on Friday 22nd November 2019 (link to that post near the bottom of this post).

I had just missed Tram 34 heading down Stephenson Street. Seen leaving Grand Central Tram Stop. While tram 33 was in service to Wolverhampton.

I popped up to Victoria Square via Pinfold Street and found West Midlands Metro Tram 35 at Town Hall Tram Stop.

This was the tram formerly called Angus Adams (not sure why it was denamed). Also the tram the Queen got on board 4 years ago in 2015 (at Bull Street Tram Stop).

Tram 35 seen heading past Victoria Square and the Birmingham Frankfurt Christmas Market, making it's way under battery power down Pinfold Street.

Tram 35 heading down Pinfold Street before turning left onto Stephenson Street. Birmingham New Street Station is directly ahead.

Tram 35 comes to a stop at Grand Central Tram Stop. Trams in service were still using the platform next to Birmingham New Street Station.

The view from Caffe Nero as Tram 34 departs from Grand Central Tram Stop. As it was out of service, passengers could not board this tram.

As I sat in Caffe Nero, saw both trams 34 and 35 returning both ways on a test up and down the Westside Metro extension. Bit of an awkward view from the table I sat at. Later in the day I did pop back to Victoria Square (after dark) but did not see any trams on the new extension, but was an opening to Town Hall Tram Stop.

 

Bonus photos.

Tram 30 heading down Stephenson Place towards the current Grand Central terminus.

Tram 36 seen at the end of October 2019. Now with the full blue livery and the My Metro app adverts still on it (passing Martineau Place and Poundland). The other advert trams are also now fully blue. Although tram 19 (1999 - 2019 - 20 Years) is unchanged.

On the 22nd November 2019 I observed tram 23 on a test between Town Hall and Centenary Square. Watch this space as that will be in a separate post to this one.

See that post here West Midlands Metro tram 23 on a test run between Town Hall Tram Stop and Centenary Square Tram Stop (November 2019).

 

Update on the 28th November 2019. It's been a few weeks since Jasper Carrott himself had a ride on a tram for the first time in 70 years (towards Centenary Square). And they had a naming ceremony on tram 28 near the Town Hall in Victoria Square. Been waiting and waiting to see this tram with his name! Finally saw it at Grand Central Tram Stop as it departed for Wolverhampton.

I have heard / read that Town Hall Tram Stop might be called Birmingham Town Hall Tram Stop. And Centenary Square Tram Stop maybe given the name Birmingham Library Tram Stop. Will have to wait and see when the stops actually opens in December 2019.

 

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

Follow me on Twitter here ellrbrown.

Share  Connect with us
50 passion points
Transport
27 Nov 2019 - Elliott Brown
News & Updates

Return of the Polar Express at Birmingham Moor Street Station (22nd November to 22nd December 2019)

It's back! The Polar Express from Vintage Trains. On at weekends from the 22nd November to 22nd December 2019. I saw it at Birmingham Moor Street Station on Sunday 24th November 2019. This was the 14:40 service. I went to get the Chiltern Railways 14:55 service (as far as Solihull).

Related View community

Return of the Polar Express at Birmingham Moor Street Station (22nd November to 22nd December 2019)





It's back! The Polar Express from Vintage Trains. On at weekends from the 22nd November to 22nd December 2019. I saw it at Birmingham Moor Street Station on Sunday 24th November 2019. This was the 14:40 service. I went to get the Chiltern Railways 14:55 service (as far as Solihull).


Last year's Post here Shakespeare and Polar Express.

Chiltern Railways 168002 (the train I would ride one stop to Solihull) and 45305 Alderman A. E. Draper seen at platform 3 and 4 at Birmingham Moor Street Station respectfully. The Polar Express is back for the festive season for the 2nd year. I saw families and kids arrive through an open gate (I used the ticket barrier).

This steam locomotive is from the Great Central Railway. 45305 Alderman A. E. Draper. Built in 1936. Originally numbered 5305 for the London Midland and Scottish Railway (LMSR). After nationalisation in 1948, British Railways renumbered it as 45305. Withdrawn in 1968. Saved by Albert Drapers and Sons Ltd. Named Alderman A E Draper in 1984. From 1996 was with the Great Central Railway.

Carriages further down platform 4.

20 189 was at the end.

Close up of 20 189, I last saw her at the Tyseley Locomotive Works at the open day 2 months earlier.

Lined up the shot with the Birmingham Moor Street sign.

Looking towards Primark. My train 168002 on the right at platform 3 (looks so small).

Selfridges to the left.

I got on my train sometime after 14:30 and got these close up shots of the steam locomotive. This showing the number 45305.

First saw the nameplate Alderman A. E. Draper here.

With all the steam, the windows on my train were steaming up. Was another 10 minutes before the Polar Express left, and I had to wait 25 minutes before my train departed.

Red lights above the buffer in front of 45305. Way Out and Refreshment signs in the background.

Nameplate about the dedication to the memory of Albert E. Draper. Who was the former Alderman and Mayor of the Borough of Hedon, East Yorkshire.

Just after 14:40 as scheduled, the Polar Express slowly reversed out of Platform 3. While I waited another 15 minutes, another Chiltern Railways Class 168 train arrived from London Marylebone.

My train later passed the Polar Express while it was a red light at Small Heath Station. Didn't take photos from the train as wasn't expected it there. Instead watch this video on Youtube Vintage Trains The Polar Express 24/11/2019. Video by TNXRail.

 

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

Follow me on Twitter here ellrbrown.

Share  Connect with us
50 passion points
Transport
25 Nov 2019 - Elliott Brown
News & Updates

West Midlands Metro tram 23 on a test run between Town Hall Tram Stop and Centenary Square Tram Stop (November 2019)

I did walk up Pinfold Street into Victoria Square again but saw no trams go up or down. So I headed to Centenary Square (after a coffee stop in Starbucks). And saw West Midlands Metro tram 23 on a test run between Town Hall Tram Stop and Centenary Square Tram Stop. I then popped up to the Library of Birmingham to see it. Had a 20 to 25 min wait to see the same tram again!

Related View community

West Midlands Metro tram 23 on a test run between Town Hall Tram Stop and Centenary Square Tram Stop (November 2019)





I did walk up Pinfold Street into Victoria Square again but saw no trams go up or down. So I headed to Centenary Square (after a coffee stop in Starbucks). And saw West Midlands Metro tram 23 on a test run between Town Hall Tram Stop and Centenary Square Tram Stop. I then popped up to the Library of Birmingham to see it. Had a 20 to 25 min wait to see the same tram again!


First up, West Midlands Metro tram 21 departing Grand Central Tram Stop. Now in the full blue livery with the red Just Eat adverts as it moves onto the Wolverhampton bound tracks.

When walking up Stephenson Street I think I saw another tram arrive at Grand Central, but none as I walked up Pinfold Street, into Victoria Square through the Birmingham Frankfurt Christmas Market. After a coffee stop in Starbucks, I headed towards Centenary Square.

West Midlands Metro tram 23 seen heading through Paradise Circus Queensway. The roadway is now complete. The view towards Suffolk Street Queensway and the Beetham Tower.

Heading past Arena Central and Dandara, onto what used to be Broad Street. The Bus Gate has been rebuilt by the looks of it.

Tram 23 comes to a stop outside of HSBC UK at Arena Central. Before continuing onto Centenary Square Tram Stop.

I next crossed through Centenary Square around the ice rink of Ice Skate Birmingham and headed into the Library of Birmingham. And went up to Level 3 and onto the Discovery Terrace. I waited around for around 10 minutes or so, even getting more photos of Ice Skate Birmingham, and the Westside Metro extension without the tram. Then went up to Level 7 to go to the Secret Garden.

Eventually I saw tram 23 heading round Paradise Circus Queensway. Looks like cars or buses in future would have to head down the slip road onto Suffolk Street Queensway.

Seen here heading onto what used to be Broad Street but is now considered to be Centenary Square. As it passes the Alpha Tower and HSBC UK at Arena Central.

Passing HSBC UK at 1 Centenary Square.

The Birmingham Big Wheel as tram 23 arrives at Centenary Square Tram Stop.

End of the line, at least for another 2 years. Welcome to Centenary Square Tram Stop.

Heading back towards Town Hall Tram Stop. Back on Paradise Circus Queensway. I think Easy Row Subway is still under there, but the bridge has been reinforced.

About to turn left towards Paradise Street. Which is Tram only. So if you are in a car, don't drive down there OK!

These trams are quite flexible and bendy. No over head wires, all battery powered.

Passing Paradise Birmingham (on the left).

Now on Paradise Street heading towards Town Hall Tram Stop (for Victoria Square).

 

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

Follow me on Twitter here ellrbrown.

Share  Connect with us
50 passion points

Top Contributors

Elliott Brown
TransportAndUs points: 4161
Combined FreeTimePays points: 62K
FreeTimePays
TransportAndUs points: 80
Combined FreeTimePays points: 22K

Show more