New strategy to shift freight from roads to rail
A new rail strategy that will slash journey times, shift freight from the roads to the tracks and boost the Midlands economy by £649 million a year was due to be launched today.
The Midlands Rail Hub will create the capacity for six million more train journeys each year through new routes and adding up to 24 new trains every hour, according to ministers.
The 20-year strategy will focus on improving connections between the east and the west of the region and making the most of HS2.
Midlands Connect has revealed the proposals in its Our Routes to Growth report.
Sir John Peace, chairman of Midlands Connect and the Midlands Engine, said: “Improving East-West connectivity and access to HS2 services are top priorities for Midlands Connect.
"The Midlands Rail Hub proposals can bring our great towns and cities closer together and accelerate the massive job creation we’re seeing all over the region.
“The potential to greatly increase the amount of rail freight running through the region is also a big opportunity to make the most of the released capacity from HS2 and reduce the amount of freight on our already congested roads."
The report says the Rail Hub will benefit businesses by significantly increasing rail freight capacity, with four of the UK’s five main rail freight routes passing through the Midlands.
It includes plans to bring in 36 new paths per day shifting the equivalent of 4,320 lorries from the roads to the railways – more than five times the additional daily freight capacity of HS2.
Bosses say the new paths could transport £22bn worth of goods and save £74m for the economy through shifting road freight to rail.
The scheme will also see a huge increase in passenger train services between the West Midlands and Nottingham and Leicester, with the number of trains per hour doubling.
Martin Frobisher, route managing director for Network Rail, said: "The Midlands Rail Hub will transform the railway across the Midlands and beyond with more journey opportunities, more frequent services and more seats for passengers."
Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said: "The Government will continue to work with Midlands Connect to develop these proposals to help ensure the region has the transport system it needs for a prosperous future.”
The plans will be developed alongside Network Rail, West Midlands Rail Executive, Transport for West Midlands and Transport for the East Midlands.