Mayoral hopeful plans 20-year programme of rail improvements

 

 
West Midlands metro mayor Andy Street has launched his bid for re-election in May with an ambitious £15bn, 20-year plan to significantly ugrade public transport in the region.

The former John Lewis boss envisages opening eight new light rail lines as part of the West Midlands Metro and 21 new rail stations across the West Midlands by 2040. Existing rail plans to re-open the Camp Hill line (Moseley, Kings Heath and Hazelwell/Stirchley) and the freight-only Walsall to Wolverhampton line (Darlaston and Willenhall) have already been designed in detail and are at planning stage.

However, Street’s plans go further and envisage re-opening the Sutton Park Line starting with Aldridge station, re-opening Pelsall and Brownhills stations, and building a new station at Tettenhall. In Coventry, there are plans for four new stations at Coundon Road, Foleshill, Coventry South and Binley/Willenhall, as well as plans for new Birmingham stations at Balsall Heath and at Dudley Road.

The light rail plans would see 380 new stops on over 150 miles of new lines. This would include trams running in new ‘cut and cover’ tunnels on roads where there is not enough space to facilitate segregated running for West Midlands Metro trams.

In Coventry, new technology such as ‘very light rail’ trams and driverless autonomous pods would be used to connect key sites such as the University of Warwick, Jaguar Land Rover, Ansty and the city centre.

The total cost of these plans would be around £15bn or around £750m per year for the next 20 years. Street claims these costs would be met by additional funding from central government, contributions from housing and commercial developers and borrowing against the future income from ticket sales on the West Midlands Metro.

For too long we have been left behind London and Manchester, and other cities around the world … We are a world-class city region and we deserve a world-class Metro and rail network

“For too long we have been left behind London and Manchester, and other cities around the world,” said Street as he launched his plans at Aldridge Transport Museum. “We are a world-class city region and we deserve a world-class Metro and rail network. In recent years we have made great progress in completing the Metro extension to Centenary Square on time and on budget, and bringing the plans for the new rail stations to life.

“But now it is time for the next stage of ambition. This plan will connect communities which haven’t had Metro or rail lines for decades, and restore pride in the West Midlands.”.

 
This article appears in the latest issue of Passenger Transport

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