New 30-year strategy approved to transform rail in West Midlands
The next 30 years will see new services and initiatives being implemented across the West Midlands region to ensure the rail network is of high quality, and the benefits HS2 offers are taken full advantage of.
The Rail Investment Strategy has been published by the West Midlands Rail Executive (WMRE), detailing short, medium and long-term plans to provide improved rail services across the whole region.
In the short-term, this will implement the return of passenger services and stations on the Camp Hill Line and Wolverhampton to Walsall line, whilst setting a target to achieve regular high frequency services of two, four or six trains an hour at all stations, with busy urban stations receiving a service every 10 minutes.
In the medium-term, the strategy builds on the benefits HS2 will bring to the region and supports the Midlands Rail Hub proposals being developed by Midlands Connect.
The aim is provide an interlinked set of proposals to shape the development of the West Midlands up to 2047.
Chair of the West Midlands Rail Executive and leader of the City of Wolverhampton Council, Councillor Roger Lawrence, said: “We are delighted to launch our strategy for delivering better rail services across the whole region over the next 30 years. We very much appreciate the time and effort which our partners and stakeholder consultees put into developing their responses.
“We are pleased that our approach received wide and strong support. The Strategy will support the exciting regeneration and growth plans that exist across our partner authorities, recognising the role that rail plays in connecting people, communities and businesses.”
The strategy sets out seven key aims:
- West Midlands Trains franchise quick wins: 2018-2026 (working with the West Midlands Railway franchise to deliver £1 billion investment in a range of promised improvements)
- High frequency ‘6-4-2’ rail services (minimum standards of six, four and two trains per hour at stations)
- Midlands Rail Hub: 2026-2032 (working with Midlands Connects to make the case for new services across the wider region)
- Our high growth rail corridors: 2018-2032 (developing the high-growth corridors set to see the greatest economic and population growth to 2032)
- High Speed 2: 2026 and 2033 (supporting and working closely with HS2 to maximise the capacity and new local and regional opportunities)
- Radical change towards 2047 (identify the radical infrastructure change needed after delivery of HS2 and the Midlands Rail Hub including development of new rail lines and introduction of new technology)
- Supporting rail-freight development and growth (maximising the benefits of freight to the region, including through use of capacity released by HS2).
The Strategy has been drawn up by the WMRE in collaboration with Midlands Connect, the Department for Transport and the wider rail industry. It has been finalised following a period of public and stakeholder consultation.
The Strategy also commits to producing a supporting ‘Prospectus for Rail’, which will be published in 2019, setting out overall ambitions for the revolution in rail services.
Maria Machancoses, Director of Midlands Connect, said: “We are proud to support this strategy which, alongside our own wider regional vision, makes sure passenger and freight services are transformed for decades to come.
“The Midlands is experiencing a rail revolution, with an unprecedented level of collaboration across the region. Passenger services are improving, and HS2 will put the Midlands at the heart of the national network. But this is just the start: It’s important we work together with WMRE and other partners to make sure there is a long-term plan for the region’s rail network.”