Latest Rail News

19.03.19

The West Midlands 30-year strategy

Source: RTM Feb/March 2019

Malcolm Holmes, executive director of West Midlands Rail Executive (WMRE), outlines the West Midlands Rail Investment Strategy 2018-2047.

The West Midlands Rail Executive was formed three years ago to give local authorities a direct influence over the award of the region’s main rail franchise. Working with the Department for Transport, we set out our ambitions for more frequent services, more carriages, and better stations for the thousands of commuters who use the local network each day. The West Midlands franchise was awarded to West Midlands Trains Ltd (a consortium of Abellio, JR East, and Mitsui), which pledged to invest £1bn in services.

Meanwhile, work is underway on HS2 with two stations at Birmingham Curzon Street and the Interchange station at UK Central, as well as a much wider investment in regional links into those hubs. The Midlands Engine is also looking at transport links across the wider region – particularly developing the routes between the cities of the East and West Midlands.

This is all underpinned by the region’s great economic and cultural renaissance built on strong growth and increasing investor confidence. Strong performance in the automotive, advanced engineering, life sciences, professional services, and digital sectors have led to a growth in job creation and greater demand for public transport. The success in securing the 2021 City of Culture for Coventry and 2022 Commonwealth Games are both signs of that growing confidence, and will be catalysts for further investment and development.

This major investment in rail – not seen since Victorian times – coupled with strong economic growth will both increase demand for rail and generate further investment opportunities. We are also likely to see demand shift as homes are built and businesses move to those areas of investment, including the UK Central site along with the Commonwealth Games stadium and athletes village sites at Perry Barr.

It is also true that we have to work with six passenger rail operators and franchises, between them responsible for 150 stations with 21 different types of train. The West Midlands has also been the fastest growing region nationally for rail journeys over the last 15 years.

It is against this backdrop of rapid change and diversity that we have launched our new West Midlands Rail Investment Strategy – designed to coordinate activity, drive investment in our rail network, and develop a shared vision for the industry over the next three decades.

We will need to work closely with our partners within the rail industry and local and national government as we move forward with delivering the strategy. WMRE is also actively looking at how rail services and rail projects can be delivered more efficiently and effectively in the future.

The strategy brings together the existing plans and proposals and sets out some longer-term ideas for the industry to think about. It is a document designed to evolve as demand changes and new opportunities arise.

Some parts are well on the way to being delivered. Later this year, West Midlands Trains will be delivering on its commitment to introduce more frequent services and more carriages on key routes. WMRE, working in conjunction with Transport for West Midlands, has secured significant investment to deliver an extensive and exciting investment programme of new stations and services in the West Midlands area. This West Midlands Rail Programme (WMRP) will have a transformative impact on the region's rail network. It includes plans to build new stations and restore passenger services to the Camp Hill Line in Birmingham and the Walsall to Wolverhampton line by 2022.

A key innovation has been the development of the ‘6-4-2’ service frequency concept that would see a turn-up-and-go, high-frequency service provided at urban stations, four trains an hour at major regional stations, and at least two trains per hour at the other local stations across the region. However, this concept is ambitious. It will be a challenge and require significant investment over the long term to make it a reality – but thanks to our strategy, rail operators and authorities know that is our target, and can work with us on delivering it.

There is a huge opportunity for us through delivery of the full HS2 network, which should enable many of the fast inter-city flows to move off the current network. It means we can deliver better local, regional, and freight services in the medium term.

However, there are some corridors where even this is unlikely to be sufficient to satisfy future demand, and we will need to start investigating some of the longer-term and more radical options – such as four-tracking on the Coventry to Wolverhampton corridor, or tunnels under central Birmingham – sooner rather than later, given the very long timescales that these major projects would have.

Our Rail Fares Review is looking at ways to transform fare structures. We need to make investing in rail better value for money for taxpayers and challenge some of the industry costs and processes to secure the future investment that will be needed to support this strategy. The Rail Investment Strategy is a key step in delivering a future rail network that West Midlanders will be proud of.

Comments

There are no comments. Why not be the first?

Add your comment

 

rail technology magazine tv

more videos >

latest rail news

Dawlish railway may be ‘moved out to sea’ to protect it from storms under new proposals

13/06/2019Dawlish railway may be ‘moved out to sea’ to protect it from storms under new proposals

The storm-battered Dawlish rail line could be “moved out to sea” and away from the “hazard” of the cliffs under new plans... more >
TfL awards contract for new DLR fleet to replace 30-year-old trains

12/06/2019TfL awards contract for new DLR fleet to replace 30-year-old trains

TfL has awarded a contract for 43 new trains to replace the oldest rolling stock on the Docklands Light Railway (DLR), with the first scheduled t... more >
Hitachi trains for Happy trains

10/06/2019Hitachi trains for Happy trains

ScotRail project manager Kirsty Devlin discusses the withdrawal of Class 365s, to be replaced with the brand-new Class 385 fleet. While Scot... more >

editor's comment

23/01/2018Out with the old...

Despite a few disappointing policy announcements, especially for the electrification aficionados amongst us, 2017 was, like Darren Caplan writes on page 20, a year generally marked by positive news for the rail industry. We polished off the iconic Ordsall Chord (p32), hit some solid milestones on Thameslink (p40), progressed on ambitious rolling stock orders (p16), and finally started moving forward on HS2 (p14) ‒ paving the way for a New Ye... read more >

rail industry focus

View all News

interviews

Advancing the rail industry with management degree apprenticeships

08/05/2019Advancing the rail industry with management degree apprenticeships

In answering the pressing questions of how current and future generations of managers can provide solutions to high-profile infrastructure projec... more >
Women in rail - is the industry on the right track?

12/03/2019Women in rail - is the industry on the right track?

RTM sits down with Samantha Smith, sole female member of the TransPennine Route Upgrade Alliance Leadership Team, to find out more about encourag... more >
TfN Strategic Transport Plan: not just for transport's sake

22/01/2019TfN Strategic Transport Plan: not just for transport's sake

Peter Molyneux, Transport for the North’s (TfN’s) strategic roads director, has been leading on the development of the seven economic... more >

last word

Encouraging youngsters to be safe on the railway

Encouraging youngsters to be safe on the railway

This summer, Arriva Group's CrossCountry and the Scout Association joined to launch a new partnership to promote rail safety among young people. ... more > more last word articles >

'the sleepers' daily blog

Apprentice to Co-leading the Rail Sector Deal

05/06/2019Apprentice to Co-leading the Rail Sector Deal

In a series of Q&A’s with key speakers on the run up to TransCityRail Midlands, we caught up with TransCityRail panellist and Amey&rsqu... more >
read more blog posts from 'the sleeper' >

comment

Hitachi trains for Happy trains

10/06/2019Hitachi trains for Happy trains

ScotRail project manager Kirsty Devlin discusses the withdrawal of Class 365s, to be replaced with the brand-new Class 385 fleet. While Scot... more >
Malcolm Holmes on new stations for the Black Country

10/06/2019Malcolm Holmes on new stations for the Black Country

Malcolm Holmes, executive director of the West Midlands Rail Executive, described the new stations set to be built for the Black Country region o... more >
The skills bottleneck: Dealing with growing apprenticeship demand

10/06/2019The skills bottleneck: Dealing with growing apprenticeship demand

Richard Turner, head of apprenticeships at Network Rail, details the reasons for growing apprenticeship demand in the rail sector over the coming... more >
A train journey on the Midland Main Line 15 years from now…

10/06/2019A train journey on the Midland Main Line 15 years from now…

Chris Hobson, director of policy and external affairs at the East Midlands Chamber, talks in detail about what travelling through the region will... more >