The West Midlands has received a £2.7 billion investment into its transport infrastructure, which will be delivered over the next decade. The funding will be used to fund a wide range of improvements, including the transformative Midlands Rail Hub project.
The Midlands Rail Hub will vastly increase capacity for new services and improved journey times on lines linking Birmingham and a range of key locations including Bristol, Cardiff, Leicester and Nuneaton.
A key feature is the construction of new links, known as the Bordesley Chords, to open up more platforms at Moor Street Station. The investment, which has long been championed by leaders in the Midlands, could unlock significant rail freight opportunities and help relieve the increasing rail usage in the region – rail usage in the region grew faster than anywhere else in the U.K in the last decade, with growth of 121%.
The investment will also support the delivery of the Black Country Metro extension, which will go all the way to Brierley Hill. The extension will provide a much-needed public transport link for local residents and businesses, and is expected to create over 1,000 jobs.
In addition to the Midlands Rail Hub and Metro extension, the investment will also be used to fund a range of other transport projects, including:
- £700 million for rail, bus, tram, road and active travel infrastructure
- £250 million over the next five years to ensure transport network stability
- £100 million to share across the north and Midlands to roll out contactless tap and go smart ticketing
The investment is a welcome boost for the West Midlands, and is expected to have a significant impact on the region's economy and environment. However, the new investment comes at the expense of hs2, with phase two recently scrapped by the prime minister. The mayor of the West Midlands and West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) chair, Andy Street confirmed that he is now looking at private investment opportunities to fund a Birmingham to Manchester link.
Street said: “What is critical though is that the Prime Minister has personally told me that he will welcome our thinking on improving Birmingham-Manchester links, and I am busy devising the private sector consortium – which will include Andy Burnham and his team in the North – to set about this work.
“I am convinced that we can revive the case for high-speed rail further north for whoever the next Government is.”
Speaking at the recent board meeting for WMCA, Street welcomed the investment in the West Midlands Hub project.
“The near £3billion worth of transport investment we have secured for the West Midlands is really significant, and will help to turbo-charge our plans to improve public transport in the region and better connect our communities.
“And of course this is all on top of Midlands Rail Hub, our complex plan to increase the speed, reliability, and frequency of local rail services – not least to the East Midlands. This is something we have spent more than four years designing and lobbying for, and so I’m delighted to have got this over the line.”
Photo Credit: iStock
Video: Midlands Connect