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Prime Minister urged to support £3.5bn Midlands rail plan

MIDLANDS Connect has unveiled an ambitious plan to move ahead with seven rail projects in the region, which are designed to be co-ordinated with HS2.

Midlands Connect said Midlands Engine Rail would boost capacity and allow another 736 passenger trains to run every day.

The planners have identified 60 places which stand to benefit, between Leicester in the south east of the region and Crewe in the north west. Among the proposals are new direct services, such as between Leicester and Leeds. They say the scheme would be ‘fully integrated with HS2’, and that the details are being sent to the review of HS2 which is now being carried out by Douglas Oakervee and Lord (Tony) Berkeley.

As a start, politicians and business leaders are calling on Boris Johnson to back Midlands Engine Rail with funding for the initial stage of its development, which would be £45.5 million over the next three years. They say they want him to ‘display the same enthusiasm for infrastructure investment in the Midlands as he has in the North’.

Sir John Peace, who chairs Midlands Connect and Midlands Engine, said: ‘In the Midlands, more people are travelling on the railways than ever before. We now need investment from Government to allow our people, businesses and infrastructure to reach their full potential, and to drive a further boost in passenger numbers. Midlands Engine Rail is essential in creating a more sustainable, productive and mobile Midlands.’

If they went ahead, the upgrades would be completed in stages between 2022 and the 2030s, when Phase 2 of HS2 is set to open.

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