Latest news

Strike update

A strike by the ASLEF trade union will affect services on 13, 14 and 16 December 2022, and on 3 and 4 January. This information is provided in good faith but SLPG cannot accept any liability for its accuracy.

Updated on 28 November 2022


Latest edition of West Midlands Trains “On Track” Newsletter available now

Please click here to access the latest (November) edition of the Newsletter.

Added on 3 November 2022

Latest news on changes to Stratford bus services

Please click here  for the latest news on bus services around Stratford-upon-Avon. Please note: the X20 service now runs only between Stratford and Solihull and no longer serves Stratford-upon-Avon station.

Updated on 16 August 2022

Government says No to Stratford – Honeybourne RYR Rail Reopening Case 

The Minister for State for Transport, Wendy Morton MP, announced on Friday 17 June 2022 that the next stages being an outline and full business case to reopen the Stratford upon Avon to Honeybourne railway line would not be progressed.

It’s a hammer blow for the four local Rail User Groups (RUGs) that mounted the bid and did considerable work with Wychavon District Council, who led a submission under the government’s “Restoring Your Railway” scheme. The proposal was sponsored by Nigel Huddleston, the Member of Parliament for Mid-Worcestershire.  

The section of the railway line, which was closed following a freight train derailment in 1976, would have enabled train services between Birmingham and the South West and South Wales, and direct services to and from Oxford, the Thames Valley and London Paddington. A circular service directly linking Birmingham with Stratford, Shirley, Solihull, Henley in Arden, Long Marston, Evesham, Pershore, Worcester and Stourbridge would have also been possible.

The Stratford Rail Transport Group, Cotswold Line Promotion Group, Solihull and Leamington Spa Rail Users Association and Shakespeare Line Promotion Group (the Rail User Group for Stratford – Birmingham services) are all very disappointed by the announcement. 

On hearing the announcement, the Chair of SLPG, Peter Morris, said 

“It is a sad day for Stratford upon Avon and the surrounding district, which is increasingly plagued by unsustainable levels of road traffic putting off potential visitors to the district, which are crucial to the area’s local economy.

All four RUGs worked hard on this submission and we successfully garnered the support of eleven MPs along the route from Birmingham to Oxford. We want to thank Wychavon District Council for taking the lead local authority role and Nigel Huddlestone MP for sponsoring the bid. 

We believe the RYR (Restore Your Railway) submission was strong and are disappointed that the broader network and economic benefits that would have arisen from restoring the missing rail link failed to get the submission to the next stage. The rail link would have also provided a much-needed and complete solution to the sustainable transport needs at the new Long Marston village development. 

Nevertheless, SLPG took a view several years ago that a proper economic appraisal must inform any reopening decision. With this announcement, we will keep to our word and consequently will no longer proactively campaign to restore the Stratford upon Avon – Honeybourne section of railway line. 

Improvements to train services are limited compared to the opportunities that would have been available from reopening Stratford-Honeybourne. However, SLPG’s focus will now be on improving existing railway services as much as possible from and to Stratford upon Avon and all places on its two lines, one being with Birmingham and the other Leamington Spa/London, and we look forward to comprehensively engaging with the relevant stakeholders on such matters.” 

Added on 19 June 2022

Jubilee news

Added on 31 May 2022 

Chiltern Railways launches a new “Delay Repay” scheme

Chiltern Railways has launched a  new ‘delay repay’ scheme on its website, allowing commuters to make compensation claims whenever their journey is delayed by more than 15 minutes. Click here  for details.

Added on 11 May 2022

Latest issue of West Midlands Trains Business Update available now

The latest edition of the West Midlands Trains Business Update is now available. Click here to read it. It contains several articles of direct relevance to the Shakespeare Line.

Added on 10 May 2022

Special Shakespeare Express trains to run from 23 April 2022

The ever-popular Shakespeare Express trains from Birmingham to Stratford-upon-Avon will recommence on Saturday 23 April 2022. Please click here for details.

Added on 8 March 2022

27 December 2021

New memorial benches at Henley-in-Arden

Several new benches have been installed at Henley-in-Arden station. Click  here for the story.

6 December 2021

A new timetable will come into effect on 12 December. Please click here for information on West Midlands Trains and here for information on Chiltern Railways.

27 November 2021

Music Maps

The Shakespeare Line has received considerable publicity as a result of the launch of a West Midlands Trains sponsored project known as music maps which are to be placed at 30 stations across the West Midlands network. The first of these fis at Hall Green station and features UB40.

All those that fought so hard to keep this railway line open over 50 years ago and again over 30 years ago but who are no longer with us would be so pleased to see where we are today and that such an event took place on our line with such joy.

For more on this story, click here.

28 October 2021

User groups protest about unreliability and cancellations

The Shakespeare Line Promotion Group, the Solihull and Leamington Rail Users’ Association, the Cotswold Line User Group and the Stourbridge Line User Group have joined forces to make a formal protest about the current high level of cancellations and unreliability. The text of the letter is published below.



18 June 2021

A hybrid train for Chiltern?

Chiltern Railways are testing a HybridFLEX train, i.e. a unit which can be powered either by a diesel engine or by batteries.  If successful, it could be the first such unit to enter service in the UK and could well be seen on services in the Midlands. Click here for details.

3 June 2021

Potential reinstatement of direct Coventry-Leicester services

Midlands Connect has published a report on the reinstatement of direct services between Coventry and Leicester. Click here to access it.

23 March 2021

Friends of the Shakespeare Line website goes live!

Friends of the Shakespeare line now has its own dedicated website. Just click here.

18 January 2021

Approval for business case funding for new stations

The WMCA has approved a full business case for new stations ay Darlaston, Willenhall, Moseley, King’s Heath  and Hazelwell and agreed a total project budget of £61.4m. Perry Barr station interchange has also been approved,

Friends of the Shakespeare Line

4 October 2020

SLPG Launches Friends of the Shakespeare Line

It’s incredible to think that in 1969, and again in 1984, the then British Rail tried to close the railway line between Birmingham and Stratford upon Avon. Our predecessor organisation, the North Warwick Line Defence Committee, led the fight and stopped the proposed closures, indeed in 1969, closure was stopped within only two days of the last timetabled train! read more.


Community Rail Officer for the Heart of England appointed

Julia Singleton-Tasker has been appointed as Community Rail Officer for the Heart of England Community Rail Partnership and started in her new role on Monday 6th January.

Having come from a background of working with different communities through teaching and personal training, Julia is looking forward to working with local communities and businesses to enhance the services already provided and to find opportunities to enthuse people about volunteering and communicating the benefits of having a station and a railway to be proud of.

She said: “I am looking forward to being a part of this exciting new phase for Community Rail in the Heart of England.  The benefits in other areas of the country provide a very positive picture for the future of Community Rail.”

Julia will be working with the three TOCs, the County, Borough and District Councils, West Midlands Rail Executive, and the established rail user groups under the guidance of a steering group. ACoRP – the Association of Community Rail Partnerships – will be providing her with invaluable expertise and training as she starts her new role.

Julia will be formally based at Warwickshire County Council but will be spending a lot of time out and about working with the communities and partners around the 37 stations in the partnership.