Would like to go from London to Stourbridge by train. From what I have read so far, I think I can use my Britail London Plus Pass to get as far as Worcester. Then from Worcester I can catch a local train that will be fairly inexpensive to Stourbridge. I've read that the route outlined above is run by First Great Western 'via the Cotswold Line' and goes through Oxford. Can anyone confirm this and/or suggest an easier/faster route ? I like the idea of being able to get off the train in Oxford on the way back depending on when I get to Stourbridge and how much time I spend there. Lastly, does the route from Paddington to Worcester have any changes that I need to be aware of ? Thanks ! Deborah
I don't know how the Britrail Pass works so will leave that to someone else. but: a) you can go from London Paddington to Worcester by direct train (no changes) in about 2.5 hours. The route does stop in Oxford so you could get off there (with a normal ticket you usually cannot break a journey like this, but with a pass perhaps you can). From Worcester there is a 30 minute train to Stourbridge. But note that you need to check train times - otherwise you could spend a while at Worcester waiting for the next one to Stourbridge (also pay attention to the station names - there is more than one at Worcester and also at Stourbridge). Total one-way jounrey, including waiting, about 3.5 hours b) you can also do the London-Worcester route from London Euston, but it takes longer and involves a change (and is via Birmingham and might take you outside the pass zone?)
c) the quickest routes are from London Marylebone and London Euston, but do not go via Worcester. They all involve at least one change - but the changes are timed to minimise waiting time at the middle station(s). Total journey time about 2.5 hours Sorry, it's a bit complicated! You can check times at http://www.nationalrail.co.uk/. But that site will not automatically offer the via Worcester option, (it assumes you want the quickest route),so you need to use the More Options button to add a "via ..." station.
Keith, Thank you for the information. I will be sure to check the connection time in Worcester, and will also check the names of the stations in Worcester and Stourbridge so that I don't end up in the wrong place. When you mention the London Marylebone and Euston routes and say that the total journey time is about 2.5 hours, is that London to Worcester or London to Stourbridge ? Appreciate your help. Deborah
It is a fairly slow route - but not excessively so. Connections at Worcester can be tight to Stourbridge from the Paddington trains. Having done this from Oxfordshire to Stourbridge many times (and I will be doing so next Saturday!) I would advise buying the ticket to Stourbridge in advance rather than as you connect; this will often save half-an-hour. Also take care to buy to Stourbridge Town rather than Junction. Sometimes the connection is best done at Worcester Shrub Hill Station and sometimes at Worcester Foregate Street. Paddington to Worcester is usually direct but there are some that involve a change at Oxford. The other routes from London to Stourbridge go via Birmingham rather than Worcester.
The quicker 2.5 hours journey does not take you via Worcester - as Marco says they send you to a Birmingham/Solihull station first. Thinking about this, your whole point of going via Worcester was to get value from your pass and then just pay the small extra (£6) for Worcester-Stourbridge. So the quicker options in my point c) does not suit (you change outside the pass zone) and it would have been more sensible of me not to mention them probably! So really you are back to your original plan, my point a) and what Marco described in his first paragraphs. If you want to look up particular train times via Worcester, use the National Rail website already mentioned ( London to Stourbridge Town) and the "More Options" button to add "via Worcester" to force it to use that route. If you try this for say next Monday, it will offer one train per hour from Paddington (ignore the ones from Euston, they take you to Birmingham and then back to Worcester). If you click on "Details" it will show where you change (eg Worcester Shrub Hill or Worcester Foregate) and how long you have (might only be 10 minutes which is why Marco says buy the Worcester-Stourbridge ticket in advance, rather than when you get to Worcester). If you then use the link called "show calling points" it will show intermediary stations, including Oxford. I'm pleased to say, it is much easier to make the journey than it is to explain!
Keith and Marco, Thanks for all the tips. Will be sure to buy my tickets to Stourbridge Town in advance and will check to see whether the connection is better at Shrub Hill Station or Foregate Station. The information about the route through Birmingham is helpful because I wanted to know how the different routes compared and which one would be better for my purposes. Through this discussion, I've confirmed that I should go through Worcester rather than Birmingham, and that a stop in Oxford on the way back might be a possibility. Also, thank you for the detailed directions on how to look up train times. Deborah
There is a bit more to know.... I don't know if your Pass is First Class or Standard Class. The big train from Paddington to Worcester has both classes but the local trains between Worcester and Birmingham via Stourbridge Junction are commuter trains with only Standard. The weird little shuttle which runs down the quite steep hill into Stourbridge Town has no class at all. It operates on the shortest branch line in England and is an experimental vehicle based on a Ford Fiesta engine and a big flywheel powered by a propane gas tank. It has the ostentatious title of "Parry People Mover" but don't expect anything fancy. As you wait for your connection on the platform at Stourbridge Junction, for change there you must, notice the strange railway oriented clock in the car park. If you are lucky it will go off while you are watching. I once had ancestors who lived in Stourbridge (Brierly Hill actually), which was developed by the industrial revolution industrialists as a glass centre. Glass and Brass were Stourbridge's reasons for being. Even today a little glass is blown there. Stourbridge is a suburb of Birmingham and many more trains (every 10 minutes at least) run to Stourbridge from Birmingham (and it is the end of the line for many) than the less frequent service from Worcester. Be very sure if you are changing trains in Worcester Shrub Hill or Foregate Street. If changing trains at Foregate Street you may find you have to change platforms, and the stairs are very steep. At the bottom of the stairs is a bakery if you have time to kill. ... more
... con't .... It sounds like you may be planning this all in one day. If so, a "Cheap Day Return" is often only 10 pence more than a "Cheap Day Single", and if not returning the very same day a "Saver" or "Advance" will save money. At the boundary of your Pass you don't have to get off, but the other ticket must take up from a station that the train could stop at.
Hi Deborah The authority responsible for coordinating and authorizing transport in the West Midland County which includes Stourbridge is known as Network West Midlands and has a good webpage at http://www.networkwestmidlands.com/. Have a drill down there. I know somewhat of Kingswinford but have never studied Oldswinford. There is a reasonable Wikipedia article at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oldswinford. If you are looking at the new meaning of the area around the parish church that would be walking distance for me. If the old definition, can you specify the village or town? Pretty much all the area around is fairly well served by buses, and Lye and Cradley Heath in the northerly direction and Hagley and Blakedown to the south have train service. Lye is a very small station, now unmanned, and just around the corner from Stourbridge Junction, only served by the slowest trains; Cradley Heath is called at by most trains and is the gateway to the large shopping centre "Westfield Merry Hill". Hagley and Blakedown are served by the Birmingham to Worcester via SBJ trains, but not every one. How long will you be there? How much information do you need. As you can see I know the place pretty well. In fact I just drove back there for a water bed mattress - over a 100 mile round trip, pretty far for a British shopping errand. How long will be in and near the Black Country?
Nigel, Thanks for the additional information. I will be using a Britrail London Plus Pass which will get me as far as Worcester. From there, I will have to purchase an extension ticket to get me to Stourbridge and then to Oldswinford. I didn't mention Oldswinford in the previous posts because I figured that once I got to Stourbridge, it would only be an additional short train or bus ride to Oldswinford. But perhaps that was a critical piece of information that I failed to include. If so, I apologize.
There is a family connection with Oldswinford. So I guess this is a geneology trip of sorts. We are curious about the area and I would like to tour some of the glass making places in Stourbridge before or after we visit Oldswinford. Reading about the glass-making industry in Stourbridge made me laugh (with delight)....seems that there are so many world famous glass houses that have a Stourbridge connection. Quite impressive. Will have to read your post over again. There's much new info to digest. If there are other places/things to do in the area, I would appreciate it if you would let me know about them. For instance, I think the composer Elgar was born near Worcester but I think his birth home is about 3 miles away from Worcester Station. Thanks, again. Deborah
Nigel, I am having problems with my computer. Or maybe it's just fatigue. Have tried responding to your post twice now and both times have managed to send my responses into computer space. Will try to respond again: Thank you so much for referring me to the Network West Midlands webpage. It's great with such helpful maps and easy access info about trains and times. When I originally posted my question, I didn't have any specific town, village or city in mind because the 'family' was from different areas near Stourbridge and Oldswinford. I was contemplating a quick one day trip to Stourbridge/Oldswinford. However, when you asked me how long the trip was, I realized that it really didn't make much sense to travel all the way from south London, and get off the train for just a couple of hours without much planning or research. Learning about Stourbridge's brass and glass connection, the Stourbridge tunnels, and the People Parry Mover etc. has made me realize that there's much more to the area than I originally thought. Also, have not been to Stratford-on-Avon, Oxford, Cambridge or Birmingham yet and am thinking that it would be better to have a 'home base' in the midlands area instead of London.
Of more importance, however, the family research project is in its early stage. So at this point I am not able to ask you any good solid questions about the area. One thing I am curious about is where you would recommend as a home base for exploring the midlands/Black Country area. Thank you for your offer of additional information. Deborah