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Centro highlights minor projects for major boost

Investment of £60m could boost the West Midlands economy by over £370m a year and create over 4,400 new jobs, Centro has stated.

The organisation is urging the Government to include three projects in the upcoming High Level Output Specification (HLOS) that will help make the region’s rail network connect better with the HS2 rail link to be built between London and Birmingham.

The projects are the electrification of the Walsall to Rugeley line, costing £30m; upgrading services and increasing capcity on the Snow Hill line for £10m; and building a new station and electrifying the line to Aldridge, at a cost of £20m.

Geoff Inskip, chief executive of Centro, said: “These are relatively modest schemes costing just £60m yet they can bring economic growth worth six times that amount.

“Investing in our local rail network in the run up to the arrival of HS2 will also maximise the impact of high speed rail by spreading the significant economic benefits throughout the region.

“These projects can help deliver the Government’s national growth agenda and as such should be included in Control Period 5.”

Centro is also urging the Government to include preparatory development work on two major schemes, together costing £250m.

The £150m Camp Hill Chords project would enable two new suburban rail lines to be run into Moor Street – one from Kings Norton through Kings Heath and Moseley and one from Tamworth through Kingsbury, Castle Vale and Fort Parkway, while reopening the Wlasall to Stourbridge freight line would cost £100m and add extra capacity.

Inskip added: “Both schemes are crucial in terms of supporting economic growth and exploiting the capacity that will be released on the local rail network by the arrival of HS2.

“Making a commitment to do the design and development work in Control Period 5 will enable them to be built very quickly during the following five year period starting in 2019.”

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