Transport for West Midlands (TfWM) has welcomed a £2.7 billion investment into the region’s transport infrastructure to fund a wide range of improvements including delivery of the transformative Midlands Rail Hub project.
The huge investment, which will be delivered over the next decade, has been confirmed by the Department for Transport following the cancellation last week of phase 2 of HS2.
TfWM, which is part of the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA), will received an immediate £100 million investment for existing metro extensions, including completion of the second phase of the Wednesbury to Brierley Hill Metro extension in full, and to press on with major development work at Arden Cross, next to the HS2 Interchange Station.
The Midlands Rail Hub, for which £1.75 billion funding has been set aside, 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. This will unlock further capacity on the Camp Hill Line and allow the opening of new stations on the Sutton Park line.
Further to these the region has been awarded:
- £250 million over the next five years to ensure transport network stability
- £700 million for rail, bus, tram, road and active travel infrastructure to be added to the West Midlands’ allocation for the next round of the City Region Sustainable Transport Settlement from 2027-2032
- £100 million to share across the north and Midlands to roll out contactless tap and go smart ticketing – expanding a project being led by TfWM
These are on top of nationwide schemes that will benefit the West Midlands, including significant investment in roads and the extension of the £2 single bus fare cap.
At today’s meeting of the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) Board, council leaders expressed their disappointment at the decision to halt development of the high-speed rail links between Birmingham and Manchester and the leg to East Midlands Parkway.
It would have not only improved journey times between the nation’s major cities but freed up capacity on regional railway lines for more local and freight rail services.
But the board was told how the Prime Minister has welcomed the offer from Andy Street, the Mayor of the West Midlands, to work with a private sector consortium and colleagues in Greater Manchester on developing further plans for better transport links to the north of England.
Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands and WMCA Chair, said: “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.
“From ensuring the Black Country metro extension goes all the way to Brierley Hill, to more capital sums to invest in safe walking and cycling routes, the Government have made a sizeable investment in the West Midlands.
“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.
“However none of this makes up for the loss of HS2 to Manchester, which I have been clear I think is a terrible decision. My view on this will never change.
“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.”
Investment in the region’s public transport and active travel networks are a key part of the WMCA’s plans to better connect people to job and leisure opportunities and make a huge contribution towards the #wm2041 target for a net-zero carbon region over the next two decades.
Cllr Mike Bird, WMCA portfolio lead for transport and leader of Walsall Council, said: “We have as a region developed a pipeline of projects to improve our rail, road, bus and cycling networks and develop new ways to make travel easier – including new railway stations, further expansion of the Metro system and more zero-emission rapid bus services – and we can now bring many of those forward following the new funding announced.”
Photo credit: WMR