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11.09.17

West Midlands approves £3.4bn decade-long rail investment plan

Members of the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) have now formally stamped the 2026 Delivery Plan for Transport that will see £3.4bn invested into tram extensions, suburban rail lines and new stations over the next decade, as well as cycle routes and motorway improvements.

The plan, announced in April this year, includes schemes such as extending the Midland Metro in Birmingham, Solihull and the Black Country, as well as rail infrastructure to open up new passenger lines, such as through the Camp Hill Chords project.

A consultation for the document ran from April until June this year, where passengers and stakeholders were invited to have a say on the plan’s ambitions to unlock economic growth and maximise HS2 opportunities in the region.

In a WMCA meeting held on Friday, councillors have formally agreed to press ahead with the major transport plan, which forms part of the organisation’s long-term ‘Movement for Growth’ strategy and sets out “a high-level programme of infrastructure projects” for the next 10 years.

This will mark the first delivery phase of a longer-term 20-year strategy to improve transport across West Midlands and ensure the region is ready for HS2, which is expected to operate in Birmingham from 2026.

“The Delivery Plan maps out the way forward for transport in this region in delivering future prosperity,” said Cllr Roger Lawrence, WMCA’s lead member for transport and leader of Wolverhampton City Council. “Transport is key as we work to ensure the West Midlands punches its weight nationally and globally. HS2 will bring us closer to London and the UK’s other big city regions and make us a world-class place in which to do business.

“Now that this blueprint has been approved we can get to work in putting it into action.”

He also argued the strategy puts forward “exciting schemes that will transform transport in our region and steer investment here to create new jobs and homes”.

The final plan that was approved last week was compiled including the feedback gathered from the six-week consultation. Amongst the feedback was a demand for a bigger role for cycling alongside other proposed rail and road schemes.

“I am particularly pleased at how the views of the public helped shape this final plan, that sort of input is key in helping us deliver what people need,” said Cllr Lawrence.

The strategic programme is split into three sections: more than £3bn of committed schemes which are wholly or substantially funded; a pool of potential schemes for which funding will be sought; and a set of longer-term studies and proposed projects.

Some of the projects that will be pursues in the coming months and years include extending the Metro to Birmingham Curzon HS2 station in Eastside then through Digbeth and north Solihull to Birmingham Airport/HS2 Interchange; a redeveloped Coventry station; a Metro tram route between Brierley Hill, Dudley and Wednesbury, connecting to the existing Birmingham-Wolverhampton line; and new heavy rail connections to Wolverhampton, with new stations at Willenhall and James Bridge.

Comments

Chrism   14/09/2017 at 01:33

Much as I welcome this (assuming the funding actually happens), yet again we see the local authority refusing to consider the obvious solution of platforms at Curzon Street on the existing tracks that pass right alongside. So how the hell are rail passengers from Wolverhampton, Walsall, Kings Norton or Aston (and many others) supposed to change onto a HS2 train? They will be worse off in 2026 than today when a single change at New Street is possible.

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