A HISTORIC rail tunnel in Old Hill is to undergo a £2 million repair programme in a bid to secure its future for years to come.

National Rail is ploughing in the cash to strengthen and repair the 157-year-old tunnel, which runs for 819 metres along the Stourbridge to Snow Hill line.

As a result, rail services between Stourbridge Junction and Birmingham Snow Hill will not run for the next six Sundays, starting from today (Sunday, January 12) to February 16.

A rail replacement bus operated by West Midlands Trains will instead carry passengers between each stop along the line.

The work, which is part of a national railway upgrade plan, involves repairs to brickwork, strengthening the structure of the tunnel, waterproofing work where required, and repairing the lining of the tunnel.

Kathryn Berry, scheme project manager at Network Rail, said: “We appreciate the patience of passengers while we carry out these vital improvements to Old Hill tunnel as part of the Railway Upgrade Plan. The work will mean fewer train delays on the Birmingham – Stourbridge line and make this Victorian-built structure fit for the 21st century.”

Richard Brooks, head of customer experience for West Midlands Railway, said: “We thank our passengers for their patience while Network Rail carries out this essential maintenance work which will ultimately help improve reliability on this important route.

“Replacement bus services will be in place on each affected Sunday calling at all stations between Birmingham Snow Hill and Stourbridge Junction. Services between Stourbridge Town and Stourbridge Junction will run as normal. Trains between Stourbridge and Worcestershire will operate to an amended timetable and passengers are advised to check their journeys before travelling.”