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£4Bn West Midlands transport boost unveiled by council leaders

£4Bn West Midlands transport boost unveiled by council leaders

🕔15.Jun 2016

Transport infrastructure improvements worth more than £4 billion will be driven through by councils over the next decade, according to an ambitious plan drawn up by the West Midlands Combined Authority.

The proposals, which include more tram extensions, new suburban rail lines, cycle routes and better motorways, bear some similarity to the ill-fated West Midlands Multi-Modal Study of 2001 which set out plans for £9 billion of transport spending.

The multi-modal study relied partly on controlling traffic flows through congestion charging and workplace parking levies but never gained the promised financial backing from the Government.

WMCA transport spokesman Roger Lawrence, the leader of Wolverhampton council, insisted the latest strategy document is both affordable and deliverable.

Cllr Lawrence, a veteran survivor of the multi-modal debate, said the 2001 study was never affordable and added: “Whatever happened to that?”

A devolved transport spending package to be negotiated next year with the Government by the West Midlands metro mayor and approved by the councils should provide direct funding for new tram lines, rail services and fast sprint bus links.

The task of overseeing the strategy will fall to WMCA’s transport arm, Transport for West Midlands, under the leadership of chief executive Laura Shoaf.

Cllr Lawrence told a WMCA media briefing:

Transport is one of the great challenges facing us. It is critical to the economic development of this region.

There is no point building new homes if people can’t get from their house to their place of work.

The truth is we haven’t performed as well as we should have done and we haven’t attracted enough investment in transport.

The priority is to get our act together in terms of delivery. You can have all the strategies in the world but if you can’t deliver on time and within budget then you have a significant problem.

Cllr Lawrence said the infrastructure schemes would make sure the region has the right transport links in place to connect and feed into the HS2 high speed rail line when it opens in 2026 and help secure the maximum economic benefits possible from the line.

He added:

We believe the new combined authority working through Transport for West Midlands will bring a step change in the way transport infrastructure is funded and delivered.

The devolution deal we have struck with government means we now have far greater freedom to decide for ourselves and deliver those transport schemes that give us the biggest bang for our buck in terms of supporting economic growth and passenger benefits.

Cllr Lawrence said a key priority for TfWM during the next 12 months would be to draw up a timetable setting out which schemes will be delivered over the decade leading up to HS2.

Schemes include more Metro extensions in Birmingham, Solihull and the Black Country, new rail infrastructure to bring local services to suburbs like Kings Heath, Moseley and Castle Bromwich, improvements to key motorway and road junctions and a comprehensive cycle network.

Work will concentrate on putting in place a fully integrated transport system of bus, rail, tram and road underpinned by smart technology. This will include real time information and paperless ticket travel using smartphone technology and contactless bank cards in addition to the existing Swift smartcard.

Schemes to be delivered over the next decade include:

Birmingham

  • Extending the Metro tram system to the Birmingham Curzon HS2 station in Eastside and on through Digbeth and north Solihull to the airport/HS2 Interchange/NEC
  • Extending the Metro to Centenary Square (2019) and along Broad Street to Edgbaston (2020-21)
  • Improved road junctions at traffic jam hot spots
  • New cycle routes linking to a metropolitan-wide strategic cycle network
  • The Camp Hill Chords project to open up new suburban rail lines and stations for northern suburbs like Castle Vale and Castle Bromwich and Moseley and Kings Heath in the south

Coventry

  • A redeveloped Coventry railway station
  • Improvements to bottleneck road junctions and new Key Route Network through Coventry
  • Major improvements to the M6 and A46
  • New cycle routes linking to a metropolitan-wide strategic cycle network

Dudley and Sandwell

  • Midland Metro tram route between Brierley Hill, Dudley and Wednesbury connecting to the existing line to Birmingham and Wolverhampton
  • Improved M5/M6 motorway junctions
  • Smart motorways
  • New cycle routes linking to a metropolitan-wide strategic cycle network

Solihull

  • Extending the Midland Metro tram system from Digbeth, through north Solihull to the airport/HS2 Interchange
  • Improvements to M42 Junction 6 so that it is ready for HS2 and the UK Central development
  • Improved transport connections between Blythe Valley Business Park, Solihull town centre and the airport/HS2 Interchange station
  • New cycle routes linking to a metropolitan-wide strategic cycle network

Walsall

  • New cycle routes linking to a metropolitan-wide strategic cycle network
  • Improvements to junctions on the M6
  • New heavy rail or tram-train connection to Wolverhampton, with new stations at Willenhall and James Bridge
  • Midland Metro tram route between Wednesbury, Brierley Hill and Dudley and connecting to the existing line to Birmingham and Wolverhampton

Wolverhampton

  • Metro tram extension along Pipers Row stopping at the bus station and the new Wolverhampton Interchange
  • Improved transport connections to the i54
  • New heavy rail or tram-train connection to Walsall, with new stations at Willenhall and James Bridge
  • Improvements to junctions on the M6
  • New cycle routes linking to a metropolitan-wide strategic cycle network.

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