Badger discovery delays opening of Birmingham railway station amid major setback to Camp Hill line

The discovery of badgers has been blamed for a major delay to the opening of one of Birmingham's three new railways stations, ITV News Central can reveal.

Engineers are currently working with ecologists in Moseley to close off a series of badgers setts along the Camp Hill Line, where the new station was supposed to begin operating this year.

But the station, named 'Moseley Village' after a public vote, is just one of three stations that now won't open until the end of 2024.

Badgers have been classified as a protected species since 1992 after campaigners successfully argued the animals face high levels of cruelty and mistreatment.

An artist impression of Moseley Village station. Credit: West Midlands Rail Executive

VolkerFitzpatrick Project Manager, Conor Goodwin-Tindall said: "The finding of the habitats and the exclusion zones that we have to implement, limited our ability to undertake works within those areas and that delayed the overall schedule.

"There are a lot of stakeholders as part of delivering this scheme, and we have to work with them to come to agreed solutions and obviously that takes time to make sure everyone's going to be considered."

There will also be a 12-month delay at Kings Heath station. That has been put down to the discovery of an 8.2m deep well, only discovered by construction workers when they began digging on site.

At Hazelwell in Stirchley, the station named 'Pineapple Road' has also been affected after workers found a listed-Victorian wall, which had to be taken apart brick by brick, or posed a possible risk to construction staff.

The project to restore passenger services in South Birmingham after they were closed down during the Second World War,

Transport for West Midlands, project sponsor, Liam Brooker said: "We initially aimed to open these stations by the end of 2023 but we've hit some challenges on the way.

"Those are the kind of challenges you might find in this unique, historic and natural environment in this part of Birmingham.

"We wanted to be further ahead than we are right now... but work is underway. There is no going back. These stations will open. And when they do, they'll deliver a fabulous service to the people of South Birmingham."

What is causing the delays?

  • Moseley Village

Badgers, which are classified as a protected species, were discovered and 30-meter exclusion zones had to be put in place, preventing work.

Conor Goodwin-Tindall continued: "We've been liaising very closely with National England and making sure that we carry out the required monitoring of the habitats.

"There's a particular period of the year that you can close habitats and we're just approaching that time of the year now, which is July.

"This weekend we will be closing the habitats that we found and that will enable us to open those areas of the site for us."

Library picture Credit: PA Images
  • Kings Heath

An 8.2m deep circular masonry well was uncovered, described as having “active water” at the base.

Work has had to take place to protect the well during the works with it being fenced off afterwards.

A picture of the well discovered by workers restoring the Camp Hill line in Birmingham Credit: WMCA
  • Pineapple Road, Stirchley

Earlier this year engineers also discovered a historic well and wall right next to the tracks.

Contractors at the Pineapple Road station site in Stirchley found a boundary wall that was deemed unsafe for works.

It emerged the wall belonged to a late Victorian property, and was found to be listed.

It was decided that each brick would have to be removed and restored, to allow for platform works to be completed safely.


How much will the delay cost?

The cost of the project, originally estimated to be £61m, has risen - although when pressed, transport bosses would not reveal how much by.

The largest chunk of funding, £36 million, came from West Midlands Combined Authority.

The Department for Transport contributed £20 million, with Birmingham City Council handing over the remaining £5 million, from its Clean Air Zone fund.

Liam Brooker continued: "We still got to work through some of the details around that but we are completely confident that the project remains fully funded.

"Clearly, we always make provision for risk when we're planning projects and we are confident that we will still be able to get the project delivered to the timescale we talked about."

The Camp Hill Line runs through Moseley, Kings Heath and Stirchley

Beth Jenkins moved to King's Heath from the city centre earlier this year. She works in the city centre and was hoping to be using the train to get in, instead, she's stuck with a 1-hour commute on the bus.

She said: "I'm really disappointed. The station was a big factor in choosing Kings Heath as a place to live or work in the city centre.

"It takes me about an hour door-to-door so once the stations are open that could be cut in half and so it would make a real difference to my mornings."

Speaking to ITV News Central in January 2021, West Midlands Mayor Andy Street spoke of his commitment to the project, as part of his bid for re-election.

Mr Street said: "If I'm, re-elected in May (2021) we will find that final money and the scheme will come to progress in 2023."

Today, Andy Street said: “After more than 70 years without a train service, people in Kings Heath, Moseley, and Stirchley can see the progress that is being made - the ground has been strengthened, platforms and stations are taking shape, and we have already carried out timetable testing runs on the line.

“It is of course disappointing that it will take a little longer than we previously planned to get the line open, but with our contractors and partners we are working tirelessly to look atoptions to reduce that timescale and bring the benefits of the Camp Hill line as soon aspossible.

“Once open people will have the option of swapping their journey along the busy Alcester Road for a convenient and quick train ride, and the city will enjoy the benefits of the CampHill line train services for generations to come.”

The West Midlands Combined Authority says there is no going back, these stations will open.