Leaders call on Chancellor to back Midlands Rail Hub

 Leaders call on Chancellor to back Midlands Rail Hub

West Midlands Mayor Andy Street has teamed up with Sir John Peace, chairman of Midlands Connect and the Midlands Engine, to urge the Chancellor to support the “nationally-critical” Midlands Rail Hub infrastructure project.

In instructions to Rishi Sunak, the pair highlight the importance of what is said to be a once-in-a-generation opportunity to unite the Midlands region and improve trains and buses links between the East and West Midlands.

They also highlight the requirement for the project to prominently feature in Government’s upcoming Integrated Rail Plan, which will outline national rail investment plans for the next twenty years.

Midlands Engine Rail’s flagship scheme, the Midlands Rail Hub features a catalogue of improvements to improve journey times and increase capacity on the railway, through track and platform upgrades, new signalling systems and the construction of two new ‘chords’ running into Birmingham Moor Street Station.

Once complete, the Midlands Rail Hub, set to cost in the region of £2bn, will create space for 20 extra passenger trains every hour in to and out of central Birmingham, enhancing east-west links over the region to destinations including Leicester, Nottingham, Derby, Hereford and Worcester. It will also enable the reintroduction of direct rail services between Coventry, Leicester and Nottingham.

The scheme will even allow more freight trains to run on the network, with the capacity to move over one million lorries’ worth of cargo from the roads to our railways each year. Transporting goods in this manner produces 78% less CO2.

The first aspects of the Midlands Rail Hub, including reopening a platform at Birmingham Snow Hill station to allow more trains to stop there, might be delivered by 2024, subject to funding.

Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands, said: “We know that infrastructure investment will be essential in lifting the region’s economy following the COVID-19 pandemic – both in HS2 and the Midlands Rail Hub.

“Pushing ahead with this project really is a no-brainer – it will reduce emissions, have more people using public transport and offer the creation of new jobs. I’m also excited what it could do for local services – allowing us to run more trains along the Camp Hill line to Moseley, Kings Heath and Stirchley once we reopen these stations to passengers.

“Both Prime Minister and Chancellor have discussed the need to accelerate transport projects to provide benefits sooner – the Midlands Rail Hub is a perfect candidate for Project Speed. The advantages are numerous, the sums compare, now we need to get cracking.”

Sir John Peace, chairman of Midlands Connect and also the Midlands Engine, said: “There are huge opportunities available for the Midlands region, but we can't exploit them if we are not united. These plans will bring the East and West Midlands closer together, and empower travellers to take faster, more reliable trains and buses connections.

“We must welcome passengers back onto our rail network in greater numbers than ever before once lockdown restrictions are lifted – a good investment in the Midlands Rail Hub will demonstrate that the Chancellor is serious about levelling in the UK regions, decarbonising our transport network and tackling global warming.”

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