The boss of the region’s transport authority says more investment in rail is needed as demand continues to grow, fifty years to the day since the Beeching cuts (Mar 27).
Centro chief executive Geoff Inskip said there were plans to open new rail and Metro lines to passengers in Birmingham and the Black Country due to continuing demand in the region, but more investment was needed.
“It is fifty years to the day since Beeching delivered his report and we’re seeing demand for rail continuing to rise,” Mr Inskip said.
“We have seen a doubling in commuter journeys in and out of Birmingham in the last five years and right across the West Midlands rail is growing.”
The Association of Train Operating Companies (ATOC) revealed that rail journeys had increased by 30 per cent in Coventry and 22 per cent in Birmingham since 2008.
British railways are at their busiest since the 1920s, despite the network being half the size it was back then.
Dozens of stations were closed in the West Midlands following the Beeching report, including stations on the Chase Line.
The Chase line has since reopened to passengers and is set to be electrified between Walsall and Rugeley, a scheme Centro has calculated is worth £113 million to the West Midlands economy and will generate 1,370 jobs.
In 1999 the Metro line opened on the former Wolverhampton to Birmingham railway line and services and stations have been added to the busy Cross City route in Birmingham.
Mr Inskip said Centro was working with authorities across the region to maximise the benefits and connections with the planned HS2 stations and to make use of capacity released on existing lines.
Centro also wants to reintroduce passenger services to stations in Moseley and Kings Heath on the Camp Hill line, which is currently used by freight.
New services between Solihull and Stratford commence in May this year.
The Beeching cuts refer to the reduction of route network and restructuring of the railways in Great Britain outlined in two reports written by Dr Richard Beeching.
The report led to closure of 2,128 stations (more than half of total at the time), with closure of 6,000 miles of railway line (a third of the total) and the loss of around 67,000 jobs across the UK.