£2bn transport package to reap maximum economic benefits from HS2

A £2bn package of rail, tram and rapid transit schemes to ensure the West Midlands secures the maximum economic benefits possible from HS2 was formally agreed today (October 23).

The Local Connectivity Package, which was ratified by the region’s new Integrated Transport Authority Shadow Board, will enable the West Midlands to more than double the potential benefits of HS2 by best connecting and feeding into the high speed rail line.

The package includes extensions to the Midland Metro tram system in Birmingham and the Black Country, new and upgraded rail stations, opening up rail freight lines to passenger services and the electrification of other key rail routes.

Cllr Roger Lawrence, spokesman for the ITA Shadow Board which is made up of the leaders of the seven West Midland councils, said: “HS2 offers a once in a lifetime opportunity for our region and we intend to grab it with both hands.

“With the right local transport connections we can secure more than 51,000 new jobs and boost the West Midlands economy by more than £4.1bn a year, benefitting people right across our region.

“We have already secured more than £320 million towards this package so we can press on and build several of the schemes over the next five years or so.

“That’s a great start and we will now continue to work closely with the region’s Local Enterprise Partnerships and Network Rail amongst others to deliver the rest of the package.”

Cllr Lawrence said the £320m already secured would be used to:

  • Extend the Midland Metro tram from St George’s in Wolverhampton to the city’s rail station and from Birmingham New Street to Centenary Square
  • Electrify the Walsall to Rugeley and the Coventry to Leamington Spa rail  lines
  • Build a  new rail station and provide services at Kenilworth
  • Expand park and ride sites at local rail stations
  • Introduce a tram-style bus rapid transit system called SPRINT along the Hagley Road
  • Upgrade the area between New Street and Moor Street Stations to create a “One Station” environment
  • Improve cycle links

The schemes are earmarked to be built between 2015 and 2019.

Other schemes in the Local Connectivity Package include capacity improvements on the Snow Hill lines, the introduction of rail passenger services on the Camp Hill line in south Birmingham, Metro tram extensions from Wednesbury to Brierley Hill and through Birmingham’s Eastside district to the city’s HS2 station and a rapid transit link between the HS2 station at the airport/NEC and Coventry.

Potential funding sources for the schemes include Network Rail’s control period 6, the Single Local Growth Fund, Enterprise Zone, private sector developers, local and national government and HS2 Ltd.

The schemes would be delivered over a 10-15 year period, the equivalent of a £167m a year investment in the West Midlands.

The Connectivity Package document is available to download at: http://www.centro.org.uk/rail/HighSpeed2.aspx

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