Three rail projects costing a total of £60m have the potential to create more than 4,400 new jobs and boost the West Midlands economy by more than £370m a year, transport chiefs have told the Government. Centro, the region’s transport authority, has urged Ministers to include the projects when the Government announces what rail schemes are to be funded in the five years between 2014 and 2019.
Centro’s Chief Executive, Geoff Inskip, has told Secretary of State for Transport Justine Greening that the three projects are also important in making sure the region’s rail network better connects with and feeds into the forthcoming HS2 high speed rail link.
The rail industry has already recommended two schemes to be included in the five year plan known as Control Period 5 - £20m of improvements to the Water Orton line and £35m of work to increase capacity between Coventry and Leamington Spa.
The Coventry to Leamington scheme alone can create more than 1,600 new jobs and boost the regional economy by £143m a year.
But Centro has told the Government that at least a further 4,400 jobs can be created and an extra £370m of economic activity secured by also including:
Electrification of the Walsall to Rugeley line (£30m)
Upgrading services and increasing capacity on the Snow Hill line (£10m)
Building a new station and electrification of the line to Aldridge (£20m).
Mr Inskip said: “These are relatively modest schemes costing just £60m yet they can bring economic growth worth six times that amount.
“Investing in our local rail network in the run up to the arrival of HS2 will also maximise the impact of high speed rail by spreading the significant economic benefits throughout the region.
“These projects can help deliver the Government’s national growth agenda and as such should be included in Control Period 5.”
Centro is also urging the Government to include preparatory development work on two major schemes designed to add much needed capacity to the West Midlands rail network.
The £100m reopening of the Walsall to Stourbridge Freight Line
The £150m Camp Hill Chords project which would enable two new suburban rail lines to be run into Moor Street – one from Kings Norton through Kings Heath and Moseley and one from Tamworth through Kingsbury, Castle Vale and Fort Parkway.
Mr Inskip added: “Both schemes are crucial in terms of supporting economic growth and exploiting the capacity that will be released on the local rail network by the arrival of HS2.
“Making a commitment to do the design and development work in Control Period 5 will enable them to be built very quickly during the following five year period starting in 2019.”