Today, Rail Forum Midlands (RFM) attended the launch of the Midlands Engine Rail initiative calling for £3.5bn of improvements to our regional rail network. RFM broadly welcomes this important initiative aimed at driving a step change in regional connectivity to support economic growth, the opening up of job and housing opportunities and facilitating significant shift in freight from road onto rail.
The programme is made up of seven projects, all underpinned by HS2, and the ambitious proposals are being submitted by Midlands Connect to the current HS2 review as evidence of how important HS2 is to the region.
The document launched today states that Midland Engine rail will better connect businesses with their clients, collaborators and workforces opening up a generation of people to a greater variety of homes, job opportunities, schools and leisure destinations.
The report argues this is vital if the Midlands is to improve on its currently low productivity – as much as 15% below the UK average. The proposals will also facilitate increased freight capacity leading to reduced carbon emissions and road congestion.
The launch was attended by Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government and Midlands Engine Champion Rt Hon Robert Jenrick MP together with Sir John Peace, Chair of Midlands Connect and Midlands Engine.
Several Midlands council leaders together with RFM’s Elaine Clark also joined the event at Bombardier Transport’s Litchurch Lane site.
The seven Midlands Engine Rail projects are:
Midlands Rail Hub: 20 extra trains per hour into Birmingham Moor Street, direct services between Coventry, Leicester and Nottingham and capacity for 72 extra freight trains per day
Birmingham Airport Connectivity: improvements to the conventional rail network increasing capacity and improving connections including provision of direct services to a number of cities including Derby, Sheffield, and Doncaster
Bedford-Leicester-East Mids Hub (Toton)-Leeds: direct services from Bedford – Leeds that ‘bring HS2 services to Leicester’ and Birmingham-East Mids Hub (Toton)-Nottingham: direct service using conventional compatible trains to bring ‘HS2 intoNottingham’
HS2 East Midlands Hub Connectivity: developing the plans for ensuring maximum connectivity to the hub station
Derby-Stoke-Crewe: improving speed and frequency along this east-west corridor
Birmingham-Black Country-Shrewsbury: increasing capacity and direct trains from some locations to London
Nottingham-Lincoln: improving speed and frequency of services
The full proposals can be found here