A recent survey of businesses across the Midlands has shown strong support for proposed rail improvements in the region. The survey, conducted by Midlands Connect, found that 69% of businesses believe that rail improvements would make it easier to meet new customers.
Additionally, 62% of businesses believe that the proposed improvements would benefit them in a number of ways, including helping the business grow, supporting company carbon reduction targets, making it easier to meet customers, and shortening the commute for employees.
The survey results come as Midlands Connect submitted a Strategic Outline Business Case for the programme of improvements to the Department for Transport. The Business Case will show that for every £1 invested, £16 could be created for the local economy, also delivering around £23 million of economic benefits. The £3.5 billion scheme it is hoped would create space on the network for nearly 700 extra passenger trains each day.
Potential growth was also cited as for supporting the Midlands Connect scheme with 51% agreeing that it would help their business grow and open new markets.
The proposed rail improvements would boost line speed to 90 miles per hour with two minor track alignments, as well as signaling improvements along the line. This would allow for more frequent and faster services, making it easier for businesses to connect with customers and suppliers across the Midlands and beyond.
Karen Heppenstall, head of rail at Midlands Connect, commented: “This research shows how the Midlands Rail Hub will benefit businesses and commuters. Our plans will make traveling for business quicker and easier, making rail more attractive for all. This helps towards our strategic vision of a fairer, greener Midlands; where communities have strong transport connections.”
Mayor of the West Midlands, Andy Street, added: “The level of business support for Midlands Rail Hub right across our region is resounding. It’s recognition of the fact that when the Rail Hub is built, it will be easier than ever to recruit from towns and cities throughout this part of the world.
“That’s just one of the reasons I fully support these proposals from Midlands Connect. Midlands Rail Hub is a transformative piece of infrastructure – driving business success, overall economic prosperity and better connectivity for local people for generations to come.”
If the proposed rail improvements are approved, it would be hoped they would be completed by 2030.
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