Birmingham Post

Backing for major £2bn rail upgrade across region

- Laura Watson Business Staff

A £2 BILLION project to upgrade the rail network across the Midlands has gained more political momentum after the shadow transport secretary joined calls for the project’s completion.

In a visit to Birmingham, Jim McMahon praised The Midlands Rail Hub scheme as being “crucial” for the region’s future.

The huge project involves a series of upgrades to the rail network and the building of two new train paths into Birmingham city centre.

This, along with upgrades to the track, signalling systems and new passing places, will improve connection­s from Birmingham to the likes of Bromsgrove, Hereford, Worcester, Cheltenham, Leicester, Derby and Nottingham.

Under the project, passengers will be able to enjoy quicker journeys, more frequent services and new connection­s including the reinstatem­ent of direct rail links between the three major cities of Coventry, Leicester and Nottingham.

The Midlands Rail Hub will also create space for over a million lorries’ worth of cargo to be moved on our railways each year.

Mr McMahon, Shadow Secretary of State for Transport, said: “It’s abundantly clear that in this climate emergency we need to take bold steps to change the way we live, work and travel.

“The Midlands Rail Hub is an absolute no-brainer – it will get more people and parcels off our roads onto our railways and create space for faster, more frequent train journeys across the Midlands and beyond. At a time where we’re looking to boost public transport use, this scheme must go ahead. It’s crucial for the region’s future.

“Talk of ‘levelling up’ is meaningles­s if people across the West Midlands are still unable to access job or training opportunit­ies because of a creaking regional transport network. That’s why it’s critical that more projects like the Midlands Rail Hub are delivered at pace.”

Karen Heppenstal­l, head of rail at Midlands Connect, said: “It’s a project of huge importance as we look to address the climate crisis, promote greener travel and maximise the benefits of HS2.

“It’s crucial we move the scheme forward at pace, and we’re keen to develop it as soon as possible.

“Fewer than one in five journeys between towns and cities in the Midlands are made by train – this has to change. This project will make it easier for travellers to leave their cars at home, creating faster, more frequent connection­s and creating 12 million more seats on our railway network each year.”

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