A £2 billion package of improvements to transform East-West connections on the Midlands rail network has been submitted to the Government by the Midlands Rail Hub with a clear message from business and civic leaders — “Don’t ignore the Midlands”.
It outlines plans to build 15 pieces of new and improved infrastructure to: enable 24 extra passenger trains every hour on the regional network; reduce journey times; make space to shift 4,320 lorries’ worth of freight from the road
to the railway every day; and ‘supercharge’ the economy by bringing the East and West Midlands closer together.
The plans, which can be completed in phases between 2024 and 2033, have been submitted to the Government by Midlands Connect, in partnership with Network Rail and with the backing of 47 partner organisations; these include the West Midlands Combined Authority, local authorities, LEPs, chambers of commerce, HS2, Birmingham Airport and East Midlands Airport.
In the last two years, rail usage in the Midlands has grown faster than anywhere else in the UK, with growth in the last decade of 121% in the West Midlands and 37% in the East Midlands.
However, without investment, the region’s rail network cannot keep pace with this record demand, and many services between major towns and cities in the Midlands remain slow and infrequent.
John Peace, chairman of Midlands Connect, said: “The Midlands Rail Hub is a cost-effective, evidence-led plan to upgrade our Victorian infrastructure to meet the demands of the future.
"The proposals capture the enormous economic potential of the Midlands, with 320,000 new jobs estimated by 2030, mainly in professional-services firms that depend on good rail connectivity to attract skilled workers.
"This investment must happen — alongside delivering HS2 in its entirety, from the West Midlands to the East Midlands and on to the North of England.”