Tuesday, 9 February 2021
Midlands leaders call on Chancellor to back Midlands Rail Hub
More trains from the East Midlands would link up with Birmingham Moor Street Station in the Midlands Rail Hub project
Sir John Peace and Andy Street have joined forces to urge the Chancellor to support the “nationally-critical” Midlands Rail Hub infrastructure project.
The Midlands Engine chairman and West Midlands Mayor wrote a letter to Rishi Sunak highlighting the importance of a once-in-a-generation opportunity to unite the Midlands region by improving public transport links between the East and West Midlands.
They said it must feature prominently in the Government’s upcoming Integrated Rail Plan, which will outline national rail investment plans for the next 20 years.
Sir John, who is also chairman of the Midlands Connect transport body, said: “There are huge opportunities up for grabs for the Midlands region, but we cannot 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 public transport connections.
“We must welcome passengers back onto our rail network in greater numbers than ever before once lockdown restrictions are lifted – an investment in the Midlands Rail Hub will demonstrate that the Chancellor is serious about levelling up the UK regions, decarbonising our transport network and tackling climate change.”
What is the Midlands Rail Hub?
The Midlands Rail Hub is the flagship scheme of Midlands Engine Rail and will cost about £2bn.
It includes a catalogue of improvements to improve journey times and increase capacity on the railway via track and platform upgrades, new signalling systems and the construction of two new “chords” running into Birmingham Moor Street Station.
Once complete, it will create space for 20 extra passenger trains every hour into and out of central Birmingham, enhancing east-west links across 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.
Passenger benefits aside, the scheme will allow more freight trains to run on the network, with the capacity to move more than one million lorries’ worth of cargo from the roads to our railways each year. Transporting goods in this way produces 78% less CO2.
The first elements of the Midlands Rail Hub, including reopening a platform at Birmingham Snow Hill station to allow more trains to stop there, could be delivered by 2024, subject to funding.
Andy Street added: “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, get more people using public transport and support the creation of new jobs.
“Both the Prime Minister and Chancellor have spoken about the need to accelerate transport projects to deliver benefits sooner – the Midlands Rail Hub is a perfect candidate for Project Speed. The benefits are numerous, the sums stack up, now we need to get cracking.”