MIDLANDS CONNECT is asking the government for £20 million, so that it can move ahead with plans to improve railway links to the stations at Coventry and Birmingham International.
The whole scheme has been estimated to cost between £125 million and £180 million, and would provide direct trains to the two key stations for 2.2 million more people, including passengers from Derby, Sheffield, York and Newcastle.
Services would be improved in and around the West Midlands as well, with services from Leamington Spa, Banbury, Oxford and Reading doubled to twice hourly, while congestion on board commuter services along the busy corridor between Birmingham New Street and Coventry would also be reduced. There would be a new direct service from Birmingham Moor Street to Oxford via Solihull and Warwick Parkway.
Infrastructure improvements would include the doubling of the mainly single-track line between Leamington Spa and Coventry, which presently has only one crossing place, around a kilometre in length, at Kenilworth.
Midlands Connect has revealed in a newly-published report that it submitted an Outline Business Case to the Department for Transport for the Birmingham Airport Connectivity rail scheme last month, the business case having been produced in partnership with Network Rail.
Work on the improvements could start as early as 2024.
The project is one of seven that make up the £3.5 billion Midlands Engine Rail programme, which would also take advantage in the longer term of capacity released by HS2 and envisages more than 700 more passenger trains running daily.
Midlands Connect chairman Sir John Peace said: ‘As we work to recover from the economic impacts of Covid-19, embarking on an ambitious and successful path post Brexit, our international connections and relationships with other UK regions will become more important than ever. Providing a step change in rail connectivity to the city of Coventry and Birmingham International railway station, our proposals will enhance access to Birmingham Airport, the West Midlands’ gateway to the world, as well as the nearby NEC, Resorts World and Jaguar Land Rover.
‘Integrating these upgrades into the existing network, with the arrival of HS2 at the adjacent Interchange station, will generate unparalleled investment and growth, creating jobs, thousands of new homes and more places to work, live and relax. Our proposals will benefit workers, residents and travellers, bringing two million more people to within a direct rail journey of these exciting destinations.’