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Plans for £3.5bn Midlands Engine Rail launched

The Midlands Engine Rail, a £3.5bn improvement programme made up of seven projects spanning the East and West Midlands, has been launched by regional transport body Midlands Connect.

The newly-announced plans aim to include and build upon the flagship Midlands Rail Hub scheme, which was submitted to Government in June 2019 with the aim of boosting east-west connectivity.

Up to 60 locations across the UK could benefit from improved services as a result of the proposals, with Midlands Connect seeking to supercharge the region’s economy, driving sustainability, productivity and social mobility across the whole of the Midlands region.

Planned to be delivered in stages from 2022 through to completion of HS2 Phase Two, the Midlands Engine Rail will provide a much-needed capacity boost for national, local and regional rail services – creating space for 736 more passenger trains on the region’s network each day.

MER Fact Sheet

Over the past two years, the Midlands has seen the fastest rise in passenger numbers of anywhere in the UK. Services to Birmingham, Leicester, Coventry and many more could all see benefits from the scheme, as well as helping improve the wider UK transport network given the Midlands’ centre position.

Civic and business leaders are now calling on Prime Minister Boris Johnson to back the Midlands Engine Rail and fund the next stage of its development – with an estimated cost of £45.5m over the next three years.

Sir John Peace, chair of Midlands Connect and Midlands Engine said: “In the Midlands, more people are travelling on the railways than ever before.

“We now need investment from Government to allow our people, businesses and infrastructure to reach their full potential, and to drive a further boost in passenger numbers. Midlands Engine Rail is essential in creating a more sustainable, productive and mobile Midlands.

READ MORE: Midlands Rail Hub proposal document launches in Birmingham

READ MORE: New Midlands Rail Hub could deliver £2bn economic boost

“Whether they live in Shrewsbury, Lincoln, Birmingham or Leicester, our communities deserve the opportunity to make greener choices, to access a world-class education and to reach the widest possible variety of career opportunities. We must create a transport network that helps our businesses to grow, not holds them back.”

“My message to the Prime Minister is clear; it’s time you made a long-overdue commitment to the future of our rail network. Ten million Midlanders are counting on you; invest in their futures, turn our vision into reality, back Midlands Engine Rail.”

Robert Nisbet, director of nations & regions at the Rail Delivery Group, which represents rail companies, added: “Millions of train journeys are made in the Midlands every week and rail companies are working together to improve services, with new and refurbished trains being introduced to run more services.

“Further investment as part of Midlands Engine Rail will improve journeys for passengers between towns and cities across the region and power economic growth by unlocking new business opportunities.”


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