A £2 billion package of improvements for the Midlands’ east-west rail network has been submitted to the government that could reduce journey times between major cities.
The Midlands Rail Hub proposal outlines plans to build 15 pieces of infrastructure to make room for 24 extra passengers trains every hour on the regional network and create faster connections between Birmingham, Nottingham, Leicester, Derby, Coventry, Hereford and Worcester.
The plans were submitted by sub-national transport body Midlands Connect, which is urging the government to not “ignore” the region.
According to Midlands Connect, rail usage in the region has grown faster than any other area of the UK – up 121 per cent in the west in a decade and 37 per cent in the east. The group says the network won’t be able to keep pace with growing demand without investment.
Under the proposal, the group says infrastructure projects can be completed in phases between 2024 and 2033 and could shift 4,320 lorries’ worth of freight from the roads to the railway while laying on extra passenger services.
Additional trains would include 20 services to and from Birmingham Moor Street to take pressure off the city’s New Street station, as well as two extra trains per hour in both directions on the Camp Hill line between Kings Norton and Birmingham Moor Street.
The move also includes an extra train every hour in both directions between Birmingham and Nottingham, Hereford via Worcester, Cardiff and Bristol.
In total, the plans would see 85,000 additional seats on the network every day.
Midlands Connect also wants to see increased access to High Speed 2: A proposed high-speed railway line linking London with the Midlands, the North of England and eventually the central belt of Scotland. It is being developed by High Speed Two Ltd, a comp... services for residents through better pedestrian connections between Birmingham Moor Street and the new Curzon Street station.
Sir John Peace, chair of Midlands Connect, commented: “The Midlands Rail Hub is a cost-effective, evidence-led plan to upgrade our Victorian infrastructure to meet the demands of the future. These proposals capture the enormous economic potential of the Midlands, with 320,000 new jobs estimated by 2030, mainly in professional services firms who depend on good rail connectivity to attract skilled workers.
“This investment must happen alongside delivering High Speed 2: A proposed high-speed railway line linking London with the Midlands, the North of England and eventually the central belt of Scotland. It is being developed by High Speed Two Ltd, a comp... in its entirety, from the West Midlands to the East Midlands and on to the north of England. The next prime minister of this country must not ignore the Midlands, the 10 million people who live here, or our £220 billion contribution to the UK economy. Now is the time for the government to prove to the Midlands it’s listening to us.”
Lilian Greenwood, MP for Nottingham South and chair of the Transport Select Committee, added: “Our people and businesses are suffering from poor connectivity and it’s time that government took action to bring the great economic centres of the Midlands closer together. The Midlands Rail Hub is a vehicle for change – it will change where we work, where we live and who we do business with, it will encourage us to make greener choice and allow the network to keep pace with growing demand. We must accelerate these plans to enable faster, more frequent journeys across our network and to make more space for freight trains that will transport goods UK-wide.”
The news comes after the DfT awarded the East Midlands rail franchise to Dutch firm Abellio after banning Stagecoach from bidding for the services.
Find out more about the Midlands Rail Hub proposal here