Future for local rail – study announced

Transport bosses welcome rail improvement proposals.

West Midlands transport bosses today welcomed a Network Rail study outlining future development proposals for the region’s railways.

Network Rail has set out its strategy in the West Midlands and Chilterns Route Study, a report for government outlining the capacity challenges and potential options to improve future passenger and freight services.

Cllr Roger Lawrence, transport lead on the West Midlands Combined Authority, said: “Improving capacity across the West Midlands rail network to meet the increasing demand for train travel is key to boosting economic growth.

“We particularly welcome the proposed Midlands Rail Hub, which would address the regional rail network’s main bottleneck in central Birmingham and improve regional access to the new HS2 Station at Curzon St.”

Cllr Lawrence said Network Rail’s proposals also supported delivery of new local services and stations in south and east Birmingham – including passenger services to Moseley, Kings Heath and Hazelwell, and to the Fort Parkway and Castle Bromwich.

He said: “It complements the CA’s own plans to provide a new platform at Rowley Regis and improve rail services on the lines into Birmingham Snow Hill and Moor St stations.”

Cllr Lawrence also represents the region on Midlands Connect, the partnership of local authorities, local enterprise partnerships and business formed to develop a Midlands-wide transport strategy to support the regional and UK economy.

He said the proposals were in line with the Midlands Connect agenda which aims to unlock economic growth and power the government’s vision of a ‘Midlands Engine’.

He said: “The Midlands Rail Hub concept also supports the Midlands Connect agenda, promoting rail links to the East Midlands economic centres of Derby, Leicester and Nottingham.”

Cllr Lawrence also welcomed one of the other key Route Study proposals which would benefit Coventry and Birmingham Airport. He said: “I’m glad to see that Network Rail recognises the crucial importance of infrastructure improvements between Coventry and Leamington Spa to enable improved direct national rail access to Birmingham Airport and Coventry from cities such as Oxford, Reading, Derby, Leeds, York and Newcastle.

“I would now stress the urgent need to move the above strategic options from the concept phase to the development, design and delivery phases in order to ensure that the region is fully HS2 Ready when the new high speed rail line opens in 2026.”