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14.11.14

Birmingham’s £4bn transport pledge includes line reopenings

Birmingham City Council has unveiled a 20-year, £4bn vision for improving transport in the city, including an expansion of the Midland Metro and line reopenings.

Improving rail links across the city and beyond featured prominently in the plans. These include re-opening and upgrading rail routes to Moseley and Kings Heath, Sutton Coldfield via Walmley and Tamworth via The Fort and Castle Vale. The rail plans also include a £400m upgrade for Snow Hill station to transform it into a major gateway to the city centre, once New Street Station re-opens fully in 2015.

Investment is also committed for a number of other improvements including increasing service frequencies from Redditch and Bromsgrove into Birmingham, further electrification, and station improvements.

Birmingham Connected, formerly the Birmingham Mobility Action Plan, was drawn up after it was predicted 80,000 more cars would be in use on the city’s already-congested streets by 2031 if nothing was done.

The plans were unveiled this week by Labour council leader Sir Albert Bore.

“Birmingham Connected sets a new direction for transport, not just for tomorrow but for the next 20 years,” he said. “It ushers in a new era in the way we think about moving people and goods from, into, around and through the city and region, delivering projects and infrastructure, and the ways in which we fund them.

“Following public consultation on the Birmingham Mobility Action Plan green paper last year, the Birmingham Connected white paper now sets out our vision for a world class transport system fitting of a world class city.”

The plan also included significant light rail investment, including £1.2bn for three new Midland Metro tram routes and up to nine rapid sprint bus routes. The city centre to Broad Street extension and route to Birmingham Airport have already been funded and another line linking the city centre, Snow Hill station, the new HS2 station at Curzon Street and Digbeth is proposed. The rapid transit bus routes could later be upgraded to full tram systems.

Midland Metro

Other ‘potential’ tram lines include along the A34 Walsall Road, the A38 Bristol Road and the A45 to Birmingham Airport.

The council, along with Midlands Connect, will also push for better connectivity across the West and East Midlands including reducing travel times from cities such as Nottingham, Leicester and Worcester.

“The proposed devolved West Midlands rail franchise would be a key vehicle to progress further improvements,” the report said.

The council said it did not currently have "all the funding in place". It expects to make bids for government and European money, but local businesses could also make an "increased contribution".

This could take the form of additional ring-fenced taxation on businesses or additional business rates, Birmingham City Council said.

There is also expected to be an investment package to deliver Birmingham’s local connectivity strategy for HS2 up for grabs.

Transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin said: “I am delighted to be launching this new white paper, which is vital for Birmingham to continue to grow and prosper. The government has put transport at the heart of its long term economic plan, because the future of successful cities depends on efficient transport that can connect people with jobs, link communities with services and attract new investment.

“The record levels of investment we are putting into our transport network – including HS2 and the £15bn roads programme announced by the prime minister on Monday – will improve roads, stations and railways right across the country.”

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