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Smart ticketing available on Midland services by end of 2018

The government has launched its Midlands Engine strategy that outlines plans to boost the transport infrastructure of the region with £392m worth of new funding aimed at growing the economy of the Midlands.

The plan promised to make the most of the Midlands’ central location in the UK with the £55.7bn investment being put into HS2, which will serve three stations. The documents stated that when the full HS2 scheme is running in 2033, Birmingham will be within an hour’s train journey of Manchester, Leeds, and London.

As part of the strategy, it was also revealed that by the end of 2018, the government aimed to give all customers using local rail services the ability to use smart tickets, announcing that Midlands Connect will sit on the National Smart Ticketing Delivery Board to ensure that the National Programme is tailored to the Midlands individual ambition and need. 

The government will work with Midlands Connect and its partners, including Transport for West Midlands, to consider how smart ticketing can be extended to other modes of transport in the region.

The plan builds on funding that has already been put in place for transport in the region, including £5bn for developing the concept of the Midlands Rail Hub – a series of upgrades to rail links that is hoped to add 10 more trains per hour to central Birmingham.

The government will provide £250,000 to Transport for the West Midlands to support the development of proposals for a new West Midlands Integrated Command Hub, to support coordination between the different agencies responsible for managing the local transport network. This will ensure that any potential disruption arising from the construction of HS2, in particular, can be effectively managed.

The city sits at the heart of the UK’s rail network, as 92% of the population can now reach the Midlands in less than four hours and 45% of British rail freight goes through the area.

The report stated: “Stretching from Shropshire to Lincolnshire, with the M1, M6, and most of our major railway lines running through it, the Midlands sits at the very heart of the UK economy.

“Today we are announcing our plans to invest £392m across the Midlands through the Local Growth Fund.”

The chancellor, Phillip Hammond, said: “The Midlands has enormous economic potential and as we lay the foundations of a stronger, fairer Britain outside the EU it is more important than ever that we now build on its existing strengths to make sure it fulfils it.

“The Midlands Engine Strategy is an important milestone, setting out the concrete actions we are taking, where we are not only investing in what it does well but also tackling some of the long standing productivity barriers in the region including skills and connectivity.

“It is a vital part of the government’s work to create an economy that works for everyone, and all parts of the country.”

Midlands Engine Partnership chairman Sir John Peace added: “All parts of the Midlands already do a great job energising growth, creating jobs, investing in infrastructure, helping people to acquire valuable skills, and promoting their particular assets to attract investment and visitors.

“This strategy represents a clear footprint for the Midlands Engine empowering us to think bigger, and work even closer together, across local economies and on a scale that makes sense in global markets.”

Later this year, the Partnership will publish its “ambitious vision and action plan” designed to lay out how it will work with central government to get the most out of infrastructure in the Midlands.

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Graham Pauling   10/03/2017 at 10:57

The West Midlands already has Smart Ticketing. It's promoted by TfWM as SWIFT.

Andy   10/03/2017 at 13:16

SWIFT is indeed utilised across the TfWM network, but only on buses and the single existing Midland Metro line. SWIFT in its current incarnation is not compatible (as things stand) with heavy rail. This will be implemented in the months and years to come.

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