Midlands Engine


Maria Machancoses on the Midlands Rail Hub plans and futureproofing the Midlands network

Maria Machancoses Director of Midlands Connect joins us to discuss the Midlands Rail Hub plans and futureproofing the Midlands network ahead of TransCityRail Midlands 2019.

What does your role as Director of Midlands Connect involve?

I’m tasked with establishing a strategic pipeline of rail investment projects across the Midlands. This means working with our technical experts and partnerships to secure funding from Westminster to improve the speed, frequency and scope of rail services. Our ageing rail infrastructure is no longer fit for purpose, and it is the job of my team to boost business productivity and residents’ social mobility by futureproofing the network. 

We’re here to ensure national projects work for the Midlands and that Midlands rail projects work for the nation.

How is Midlands Connect working to improve major transport infrastructure, bring the Midlands closer together and unlock the potential of the region?

When it comes to our railways, we believe in two things. First, that HS2 must be delivered it its entirety, all the way from the Midlands to the East Midlands, the North and beyond. Secondly, that it should be quicker and easier for residents and businesses in one part of the Midlands region to reach other towns and cities in the Midlands Engine area. Our Midlands Rail Hub plans, as well as our wider rail programme, focuses on enhancing east-west connectivity across Hereford, Worcester, Birmingham, Leicester, Nottingham and beyond. Our work will bring businesses closer to their clients and widen access to skilled workers, boosting economic growth and catalysing wider regeneration.

What does this mean for the supply chain?

For decades, as a region, we’ve not invested enough in developing a long-term pipeline of projects. We’re remedying this, creating a strategic programme of improvements for the next 15-20 years. This will provide the certainty businesses in the supply chain need to plan and deliver. The Midlands is home to the biggest cluster of rail supply businesses in Europe, we need to ensure they’re equipped to retain the skills and means to innovate.

How is Midlands Connect working with other organisations in the Midlands to ensure they are speaking with ‘one voice’ and ensure the Midlands reaches its potential?

Midlands Connect is the transport voice of the region. We work closely with our partnership of local authorities, Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) and delivery organisations such as Highways England, HS2 and Network Rail to reach out to policymakers in Westminster. We research, develop and recommend projects that will have the biggest economic impact. All of our proposals are evidence-led and tie in with the government’s Industrial Strategy.

Why have you got involved with TransCityRail Midlands?

To make sure Midlands Connect is communicating with the industry about our work. We need your support to help turn our plans into reality.

Why do you think it is important for leaders to come together at TCR Midlands?

We have such a wealth of talented leaders in our region and when we work together and deliver a united, coherent message to government, we are a force to be reckoned with. I’m here to drive awareness of the work Midlands Connect does and to gain a better understanding of how others in the industry are working to improve the network.

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