Major £30 million upgrade to Perry Barr station was 'well worth the money' according to transport minister

A £30 million upgrade to Perry Barr Station was “well worth the money”, said transport minister Wendy Morton on a visit to Birmingham this week, despite calls to build the Midlands Rail Hub to its full capacity.

Wendy Morton
Wendy Morton

Ms Morton MP, who represents the Aldridge-Brownhills constituency, said rail enthusiasts will have to “wait and see” if the Midlands Hub will be rolled out in its entirety.

The MP visited Birmingham this week at the Department of Transport’s regional offices on a tour of the newly built Perry Barr Station; and spoke at the World Congress for Rail Research at the University of Birmingham.

Perry Barr Station stands at the heart of a rapidly changing Perry Barr and will be a crucial gateway for visitors to Alexander Stadium for the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games this summer.

The rail minister, who is also fighting for a train station to be opened in her constituency, hit back at critics who compared the newly built Perry Barr Station, which opened last month, to a ‘rusty teabag’.

She said: “I think it was worth money well spent. Obviously with Birmingham hosting the Commonwealth Games, it’s important that we’ve got the infrastructure for that. So my understanding was that accessibility was part of that, but I would have to double-check that.”

The renovation of Perry Barr Station is one of many projects designed to level up Birmingham and its rail system.

The Midlands Rail Hub includes a £2 billion package of improvements to transform east-west rail connections. The hub, if built, will strengthen rail links between Leicester, Nottingham, Coventry, Derby, Hereford and Worcester, improving services to Wales and the South West. It will also allow more people to access HS2.

But rail industry experts during the Midlands Connect conference in April were concerned only part of the hub would be completed. The project will be implemented in phases between now and 2033.

Ms Morton dismissed the concerns, and said while the hub is hugely important, she would not “set out in detail all that entails at the moment”.

The MP pointed to the Integrated Rail Plan (IRP) instead, calling it “the biggest investment commitment that has ever been made in railways”.

“It’s going to deliver great connectivity between the West and the East Midlands, which I think is what your readers are interested in.

“We can get trains from Birmingham and Nottingham reduced to just over half an hour. We’ll continue to progress work on our projects. It’s important to remember the IRP will make Birmingham to Manchester 30 minutes quicker than today, and Birmingham to Nottingham 35 quicker than today.”

Maria Machancoses, CEO of Midlands Connect, said: “Midlands Connect is committed to progressing Midlands Rail Hub and is working closely with Network Rail to ensure robust proposals are submitted to government later this year, following the publication of the Integrated Rail Plan.

“This transformative scheme will boost east-west connectivity, creating millions more train seats and faster, more frequent links for passengers across the Midlands region.”

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