Andy Street comment: Chase Line is part of region's transport revolution
As the Chase Line works are completed, West Midlands Mayor Andy Street looks to the future.
The completion of the electrification works on the Chase Line is a major milestone in the West Midlands transport revolution.
With state-of-the-art platinum buses, new dedicated cycle routes, and the Brierley Hill Midland Metro expansion on its way, the West Midlands is becoming a leading light for transport infrastructure. The new and improved Chase Line is very much part of this success story.
The new trains and faster services will give Walsall and Cannock Chase the connectivity they need to grow economically and thrive, particularly as we work to revitalise Walsall town centre and look to support Cannock with the opening of the McArthurGlen Designer Outlet.
Being able to travel directly to Birmingham Airport and London with trains at least every hour is great for passengers looking to fly off on holiday or visit the capital. Similarly it is a crucial business link.
With direct trains to Coventry, Northampton and Milton Keynes also along the line, our work is connecting Walsall and Cannock Chase to the rest of the UK. The benefits will be significant.
One of the key demands for the West Midlands Rail franchise was more frequent services with greater capacity, and so I am delighted that the electrification of the Chase Line can offer passengers this.
Not only do we already have at least two trains running per hour during the day between Rugeley Trent Valley and Birmingham, but all trains on the route will now be greener, quieter and boast four carriages – offering hundreds of extra seats for rail users.
On top of this, the trains along the Chase Line will now be faster thanks to the electrification and recent track and signalling enhancements.
This is all a far cry from the 1980s when there was no passenger service at all along the line. Now rail users are fully connected to the West Midlands and can get to London in around two and a half hours.
This has been achieved through sheer hard work and the desire to transform the Chase Line to the benefit of the whole region.
The electrification of the line coincides with next Sunday’s timetable changes, which will offer more late night services back from Birmingham – including to Wolverhampton.
This is great news for those living in the Black Country who want to take in a show in Birmingham or Wolverhampton theatres, or see their favourite band at the O2 Academy or elsewhere, knowing they will be able to get a late train home.
With a better train timetable, new buses and a wider tram network, I truly believe we are undergoing a transport revolution, which will lead to a happier, healthier and better connected West Midlands.