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During the UK Chancellor’s, Rishi Sunak, Budget announcement on 11 March 2020, it was announced that Midlands Connect’s Midlands Rail Hub plans will benefit from the awarding of £20 million – bolstering the £2 billion package of improvements to rail services and enabling the next stage of development, moving the project closer to delivery.
Sir John Peace, Midlands Connect Chairman, said: “This funding pledge is a firm vote of confidence from the government that it is committed to delivering the Midlands Rail Hub, an investment that will spearhead an infrastructure revolution and level up the economy. We believe in the potential of our proposals to revolutionise the region’s rail network; it means more services, faster journeys and less overcrowding for passengers across the Midlands and beyond. We must now work at pace with the government to make sure that passengers begin to see improvements to their rail journeys as soon as possible. Today’s Budget is a positive step towards the government’s commitment to levelling up the economy, ensuring the Midlands Engine Rail is at the heart of the UK’s future prosperity.”
Proposals include 24 extra train services every hour on commuter and inter-regional services between towns and cities – including Coventry, Birmingham, Leicester, Nottingham, Derby, Lincoln, Worcester, Hereford and beyond. An additional six million passenger journeys will be made possible each year, with an estimated annual economic boost of £649 million.
The investment from the government means that the Midlands Rail Hub can move to the next stage of development, an Outline Business Case (OBC), which will include detailed design, planning and costings. Additionally, the investment accommodates Midlands Connect‘s desire to accelerate the planning and then the delivery of the Midlands Rail Hub as soon as possible.
The current parliament may witness a selection of the outlined proposed improvements delivered as a result of the investment, including the reopening of platform 4 at Birmingham Snow Hill station, and improvements to line speeds between Leicester and Birmingham.
Midlands Connect Director, Maria Machancoses, said: “With this funding commitment, we can now continue to work closely with Network Rail and the Department for Transport to develop a robust business case for the Midlands Rail Hub, bringing the plans closer to reality. We will also continue to make the case to government for funding to develop the other six schemes in the wider Midlands Engine Rail programme, a £3.5 billion series of upgrades which maximises the benefits of HS2 and includes plans to enhance UK-wide rail connectivity to Coventry and Birmingham Airport, and improvements to the Derby-Stoke-Crewe and Birmingham-Shrewsbury rail corridors.”
This article first appeared on www.globalrailwayreview.com
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