AN ardent train campaigner wants to de-rail plans for a mile-long tram route in Dudley because it would scupper any chance of re-introducing diesel trains to the mothballed Black County Line.

Tim Weller, from Halesowen, has been calling for the 13.5 mile route to be brought back into use for 20 years to ease congestion on the region’s roads and at Birmingham’s New Street Station.

But his dream of seeing passengers travelling from the north and the south of the country to Dudley, which he believes would also boost the Black Country economy and tourism, will hit the buffers if the Very Light Rail (VLR) tram train plan goes ahead.

Dudley Council is planning a £20 million scheme in partnership with the Warwick Manufacturing Group to develop and run VLR tram trains on a mile stretch of the Black Country Line from Castle Hill to Dudley Port.

Mr Weller, a Green Party candidate for Halesowen South in May’s local elections, said the line was the “most important” of 44 miles of rail lines in Birmingham and the Black Country that do not have passenger trains.

He has launched an online petition which needs 10,000 signatures for his call for its re-opening to be discussed in Parliament, although he said it was more important that the region’s seven council s, the Department of Transport and Network Rail to act together.

Mr Weller, of Hunnington Crescent, accused the local authorities of having no ambition and failing to consider the longer term regional and national transport needs.

He claimed they had been “mesmerised” by Light Rail trams, as run by Midland Metro, and needed to decide whether they wanted Very Light Rail, Light Rail or Heavy Rail.

“They just go for the first idea presented to them, but they have to think also of the Black Country and the long term use of this line,” added Mr Weller.

He said he had no wish to “disappoint” Nick Mallinson, who runs the Warwick Manufacturing Group, as he supports the system on short disused branch lines, and believes alternative routes could be found around Dudley.

The Black Country Line was closed to passenger trains by the infamous Beeching cuts in the 1960s and ran freight trains until being mothballed in the 1980s.