Midlands Engine

18.07.19

TransCityRail: Next stop the Midlands

Unprecedented change and investment is coming to the Midlands, according to a number of high-profile rail leaders speaking at today’s first ever TCR Midlands conference in Birmingham today.

With representatives from the West Midlands Rail Executive (WMRE), Midlands Connect, West Midlands Trains, and the Midland Metro Alliance, it was finally the turn of the Midlands to take up the mantel piece at TransCityRail.

Malcolm Holmes, the new cover star of Rail Technology Magazine’s June/July issue, opened a series of exciting talks revolving around the Midlands Engine, looking ahead to some of the many exciting developments coming to the region. With HS2 already making an impression, Holmes told the crowd the WMRE were busy preparing for the next few years.

The key, said Malcolm, is collaboration. Everyone says they’re doing it but no is doing it well, he said. As the “new kids on the block,” he said the rail body were acting as disruptors and “trying to get an established industry to change.”

Holmes was followed by Jane Fisher, transition and projects director at West Midlands Trains, who impressed the crowd with the sheer level of investment the TOC is putting into its franchise. Passengers can expect to see £1bn investment in the local railway, with £700m being spent on rolling stock, £70m on new depots and £60m on stations.

Around 300 new trains will be constructed in the UK in the near future, and drawing inspiration from their Japanese shareholders, the train company wants to boost their passenger footfall from 75 million annually to 140 million, a 47% increase!

Leading another influential rail body in the region, Alejandro Moreno of the Midland Metro Alliance echoed Holmes’ sentiment that collaboration was key and that is was essential for partners to ‘match up’. He also added his voice to those boasting of massive investment in the region.

An alliance represents different people working together with a common goal and incentive, said Moreno. And the Midland Metro Alliance has nine international parties, which means a total £1.5bn investment and over 300 people on projects. With so many bodies, alliances and authority’s calling for and receiving funding for the Midlands, the region is all allied in its quest for progress.

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