More steam trains are set to be introduced in the West Midlands in time for the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, it has been announced.
West Midlands Mayor Andy Street was among dignitaries at Birmingham's Moor Street station to see a Clun Castle steam train pull in to the platform to coincide with the announcement.
It is a result of a new partnership between the West Midlands Combined Authority and Vintage Trains, which aims to establish the Shakespeare line between Birmingham and Stratford-upon-Avon – the 16th-century birthplace of William Shakespeare, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world's greatest dramatist.
This will mean several more services being provided along the route, with a full service planned to be in operation by 2021.
"It could be an iconic addition to everything that will be going on with the 2022 Commonwealth Games,” Nigerian-born Wolverhampton Councillor Celia Hibbert told the Birmingham Mail.
"Originally, I’m from a Commonwealth country and the perception of the UK is everything is retro.
"So this will definitely appeal to visitors as they will feel as if they are getting to experience a slice of Britain."
Street is also confident that the new service – launched at the same time as the Commonwealth Games Federation Coordination Commission were inspecting Birmingham 2022 preparations – will prove a hit during the Games.
"It’s a great day for the tourist industry because it’s all about being able to say that this train will be running frequent services between Birmingham and Stratford," he told the Birmingham Mail.
"And, of course, those that come from around the world for the Commonwealth Games, they will be able to include this in their visit too, and many will never have seen a steam train in action before."