Updated: Feb 26, 2021
Snow Hill Station, 1962 (Geoff Hill)
The region is asking Chancellor Rishi Sunak for funding for improvements including a new platform at Snow Hill station and improvements to the A45 Bottom of Formin a £400 million plan to improve transport across the West Midlands. The region's leaders have presented it to Chancellor Rishi Sunak - and are asking him to provide the cash in the Budget statement, due on March 3.
Ian Ward, leader of Birmingham City Council, said: "Investment in infrastructure is a tried and tested way of stimulating the economy in times of uncertainty. It’s 17 years since London got the oyster card, and it’s about time Birmingham had a ‘tap and cap’ smart ticketing system to match. This investment, along with support for Midlands Engine Rail will give passengers the safe, efficient and sustainable transport networks they deserve."
The budget submission was drawn up by Midlands Connect, a transport body representing the East Midlands and West Midlands. Measures include:
£27 million to reinstate platform 4 at Birmingham Snow Hill station, allowing more local and long distance services to terminate in the city centre.
£20 million for a region-wide "tap and cap" smart payment ticketing system, so that all buses, tram and rail journeys can be paid for by a single smart card, bank card, or electronic device, across the whole of the Midlands.
£321 million for road improvements across the region, including £28 million to cut congestion on the Damson Parkway junction on the A45.
£20 million to create more services at Birmingham International and Coventry rail stations, with new direct services to Derby, Sheffield,York and Newcastle, and an increase in services to Leamington Spa, Banbury, Oxford and Reading. This will be achieved by double tracking sections of the railway between Leamington and Coventry.
£5.3 million to draw up plans for future schemes to cut congestion on the A46, including in Worcestershire and Warwickshire; the A5 between Staffordshire and Warwickshire, and the A50/500 corridor, between Derby and Stoke-on-Trent.
£5 million to develop plans for a new direct rail connection between Coventry,Leicester and Nottingham, and for four tracking at Leicester station to allow more services to run into and out of the station.
£5 million for better signalling between Newark and Lincoln.
£4.5 million to improve local rail services from Derby, Leicester and Nottingham to a planned HS2 station at Toton, Nottinghamshire.
In total, the region is asking for £407.8 million.
The document sent to the Chancellor says that the damage to the economy caused by Covid, and the impact of Brexit, makes it more important than ever to invest in the Midlands. It states: "The region, country, and world we live in is unrecognisable to that we inhabited just a year ago. The unparalleled challenges of a global pandemic,the UK’s exit from the European Union, and the ongoing blight of climate change, mean that decisive action, demonstrable progress and strategic innovation are more important than ever. This is especially true for our transport network."
Maria Machancoses, director of Midlands Connect said: "As well as having public support, all of the schemes Midlands Connect has submitted to Government this budget are backed by evidence – demonstrating the positive impact they will have on economic, social and environmental outcomes. We are confident Government will continue to support our considered, affordable and deliverable vision for a more connected, prosperous and mobile Midlands region.”
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said he wants to press ahead with major infrastructure products, including transport schemes, as part of what he calls his levelling up agenda. However, it remains to be seen how much funding will be announced in Mr Sunak's Budget, as the Chancellor is also expected to announce an expensive package of support for employers as the current lockdown winds down and the economy re-opens.