Bordesley is located one stop south of Birmingham Moor Street on the Snow Hill Lines, which is still very much in Birmingham. But, the general service is one train per week in one direction only: a proper parliamentary. Despite the very low level of service, over 15,000 passengers were recorded using the station last year, working out as nearly 300 passengers per train. This is a very odd situation for a station to be in. That puts Bordesley outside the least used stations proper list by a significant number. Clearly, there is something that is wrong here, so an investigation was required.
The only train of the week runs northbound on a Saturday, arriving at Bordesley at 13:36. I decided that the best thing to do would be to alight from it and then explore the station. I worked my way across London to Marylebone, and boarded a Chiltern service to take me most of the way to Birmingham. The journey planner and the route of my advance ticket was very weird. Instead of changing at Solihull, and again at Tyseley (because the only service of the week originates at Whitlocks End), I had to go all the way into Moor Street, back out to Tyseley, and then back to Bordesley. I effectively did a triple-back. A map will show how mad this route is. The even bigger thing was changing at Tyseley instead of Small Heath, given that Small Heath is closer to Birmingham than Tyseley.
On the Chiltern service to Birmingham, a man in a suit, trainers and with a cycling rucksack got on and at opposite me with his similarly weirdly dressed child. The suit and trainer is not a look I have ever understood. Especially when the person clearly doesn't run due to their size. They sat opposite me for a mercifully short amount of time, alighting at Warwick Parkway having boarded at Banbury.
The train arrived in Moor Street, late, and I crossed over to another platform in order to board the 2nd of 3 trains. I changed at Tyseley without incident, and stood by the doors for the short journey back up to Bordesley.
Having passed it twice in the past 30 minutes, it was third time lucky as the 13:36 service pulled into Bordesley. I was one of two people to get off at the station, with one person boarding. The other passenger to alight walked towards the exit, then away from it, then back towards it and out of the station. I was left to admire (used in its loosest possible form) the station.
Bordesley station is a very barren island platform. It has some lights, some signs, a help point, an exit and a barren concrete waiting hut which smelt of urine.
Various frequent errors and fun bits popped up: There was a smartcard reader, which sees virtually no usage whatsoever. The signs advertised services to Shirley and Dorridge, which is weird as the southbound platform sees no trains in normal service. The opening of the hut was also to the southbound platform (the platform face that sees no trains in normal service). I say normal service, because the station becomes a lot more busy at match days when Birmingham City play home games. Trains do stop at the otherwise unused platform at these times. The stadium is visible from the station, although it is not as prominent as the graffiti.
The normal paintwork at the station was still slightly sticky, I assume because it had been touched up recently.
I sat on the platform, resting against a pole, getting occasional toots from passing trains as I filmed/photographed them.
The Journey Home
After the service that would form my train home from Birmingham Moor Street passed, I decided that it would be best to walk the mile from Bordesley to Moor Street so that I would be there in plenty of time. I had spent just over 90 minutes at the station.
The walk was mainly about negotiating back-streets through decaying industrial areas and warehouses, being glad that it was a Saturday afternoon and not 2am on a Friday morning. It was exactly the sort of area which journalists visit after a “well-loved cornerstone of the neighbourhood was brutally stabbed in the early hours of Sunday morning”. I didn't see many people, or indeed weapons, and arrived at Moor Street 25 minutes later. I still had more than half an hour until my train departed, but it was there and unlocked, so I sat on it, enjoying the fact that I had a 4 seat area with table to myself.
A feature of city railways appears to be that the station one stop out from a major terminus is a lot less well-used than the majority of other stations on the line. Bordesley is not an isolated case. Elsewhere in Birmingham, there is Adderley Park and Water Orton (neither of which have quite as low a patronage or quite as infrequent a service). Meanwhile, Manchester has Ardwick and Ashburys, with the former being in the least used stations list proper.
The reason for their lack of patronage is a combination of not being near many houses, and any people wanting to use them being put off by their very limited service. Bordesley has a bus stop right outside the station with a number of bus routes serving the station. Meanwhile, the train service would be, at best, every 30 minutes. Given the choice, most people would choose the bus because it is much more frequent and therefore more convenient, given that there is a major railway station close by which one can get a train to practically anywhere from. The only reason Bordesley's patronage is so high for the level of service is because of the extra trains layed on when there is a football match.
Author - Felix