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Chancellor Gives Go head for WM stations and help for Apprenticeships

Plans to re-open rail stations in Darlaston and Willenhall will go ahead after Chancellor Rishi Sunak provided funding in his Budget. The stations, in the borough of Walsall, are on the Walsall to Wolverhampton line. They are expected to have services of one train an hour.

The Chancellor announced funding of £59 million in total to re-open rail stations in the Black Country and Birmingham.

Original stations in both Darlaston and Willenhall were shut in 1965, and the lines have only been used by through trains ever since. The new Darlaston station will be constructed on the old A B Waste Management site in Cemetery Road and will feature a new station, two platforms, a footbridge, steps and a 300 space car park.

Willenhall's new facility will see old industrial buildings in Bilston Street and Rose Hill demolished to make way for the station's two platforms, footbridge and a 33 space car park was well as improved pedestrian crossing facilities in Bilston Street.

Plans to re-open railway stations in south Birmingham will also go ahead. The money will be used partly to re-open stations at Moseley, Kings Heath and Hazelwell, near Stirchley, on the Camp Hill line in south Birmingham. The West Midlands Combined Authority is also expected to agree funding for this scheme at a meeting in two weeks time. It will mean that there is now enough money to press ahead with the long-awaited re-opening plans.

Two trains an hour are expected to pass through the stations once they are open.

Moseley station will involve an access point at St Mary’s Row, with a roundabout- replacing previous plans for traffic lights at the junction with Oxford Road. Platforms will be provided on both sides of the tracks, accessible by lifts and steps, and there will be a vehicle drop-off point and storage for 52 bicycles.

In other Budget news, employers who hire a new apprentice from the 1st April to the 30th September 2021 will receive £3000 per new hire. Apprenticeships are popular in the West Midlands, where 36,900 apprentices started their apprenticeship during the academic year 2019/2020.

£126 million is being provided to extend expansion of traineeships in England for the 21-22 academic year, providing up to 43,000 traineeship placements. This will fund high quality work placements and training for 16-24-year olds who are NEET (not in education, employment or training) in the 2021-22 academic year. Over 70,000 people in the West Midlands would be eligible to take up a traineeship.

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