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New Midlands Rail Hub could deliver £2bn economic boost

Proposals to create a new Midlands Rail Hub could lead to the area receiving an economic boost of £2bn over the next 10 to 30 years, research published this week has shown.

In Network Rail’s West Midlands and Chilterns Route study, a number of changes were identified that could significantly enhance economic productivity in the region by connecting the Midlands more easily to other major rail links.

The study looked into the long-term effect of improving access to London from the Chiltern Main Line by connecting the route with the new HS2, Crossrail and Great Western Main Line interchange at Old Oak Common.

It also researched the short-term effect of the planned programme of upgrades to stations on the existing route into London Marylebone by 2024.

It’s estimated that the creation of the Hub would allow up to 150 extra trains per day in and out of the city, amounting to 85,000 additional seats and improved connectivity between East and West Midlands.

“The rail industry has to be ready to meet future demand and ensure that we continue to support economic growth by better linking people with jobs and opportunities in the Midlands region and beyond,” said Martin Frobisher, route managing director for Network Rail.

“The impact of HS2 in Britain will be huge and it is vital the existing railway connects with it and the benefits it will deliver. Across the West Midlands and Chilterns, there is much to do to meet predicted demand – this study outlines what improvements we think are needed so that passengers have the railway they need and deserve.”

The NR route official added that the organisation’s Railway Upgrade Plan is already delivering better services for passengers, as highlighted by the redevelopment of Birmingham New Street station and the connection of Oxford Parkway station to the Chiltern Main Line.

“The proposals in the West Midlands and Chilterns Route Study will help ensure this success continues long into the future,” he concluded.

And Maria Machancoses, Midlands Connect director, who wrote for the latest edition of RTM, added: “The inclusion of so many of our own priorities in Network Rail’s Study confirms that Midlands Connect is the driving force behind positive change and transformational investment in rail and other transport infrastructure.

“Delivery of these improvements will bring significant economic benefit, not only to the West Midlands and Chilterns but the rest of the Midlands and surrounding areas, given the Midlands’ position as a hub of the national transport network.”

Macancoses explained that improved transport connectivity is a key driver in growing the Midlands economy, through increased competitiveness and productivity.

“Business will benefit, as will local people. The improvements identified are ambitious but importantly they are both essential and achievable,” she stated. “We look forward to continuing to work with government and the rail industry to make them a reality.”

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Lutz   07/08/2017 at 20:34

This is an example of the extra costs generated for, but not currently accounted in, the HS2 project; to deliverer the claimed benefits there will be additional costs over and above those budgeted for.

Noam Bleicher   08/08/2017 at 09:53

Lutz, HS2 will generate demand which will need money spending to accommodate it. This is no bad thing as all those people travelling will be contributing to the economy, either by working or spending on leisure. Many will be won over from polluting road traffic. Would you rather they continued to clog the M6?

Graham Nalty   08/08/2017 at 10:03

There seems to be no shortage of people who suggest that by using the word 'hub', millions of pounds of wealth can be added to the economy. HS2 is a long way away and improvements to the rail network are needed now. HS2 is not claimed to reduce road by any great amount, but perhaps it should be. HS2 may be a useful catalyst of change to generate much greater support for improving the present rail services, but the poor connectivity between New Street and Curzon Street in Birmingham will be a big disadvantage.

John Grant   08/08/2017 at 13:03

Still not clear where the "hub" is proposed to be, unless it's at Old Oak Common (which from the Westminster bubble might look as if it's in the Midlands?)

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