The number of train services from Shrewsbury, Wellington and Telford to Birmingham and an hourly service to London could be introduced as part of a £3.5 billion plan to revolutionise the Midlands rail network.
The proposals are being put forward by lobbying group Midlands Connect as part of a series of projects to transform the railway in the Midlands.
Under the plans, a direct, hourly service from Shrewsbury, Wellington and Telford to London could be introduced, as well as services to Birmingham International doubled.
Made up of seven projects spanning the East and West Midlands, the programme is strategically-important in supercharging the Midlands Engine economy and is designed to drive sustainability, productivity and social mobility across the whole region. It also includes and builds upon the flagship Midlands Rail Hub scheme; aimed at boosting east-west connectivity, which was submitted to Government in June 2019.
Due to the Midlands’ central position at the heart of the UK transport network, the programme is also nationally-significant, driving benefits as far afield as Cardiff, Bristol, Newcastle, Kettering and Sheffield.
Civic and business leaders are now calling on Prime Minister Boris Johnson to back Midlands Engine Rail, fund the next stage of its development (£45.5 million over the next three years), and to display the same enthusiasm for infrastructure investment in the Midlands as he has in the North.
Sir John Peace, chair of Midlands Connect and Midlands Engine said:
“In the Midlands, more people are travelling on the railways than ever before. We now need investment from Government to allow our people, businesses and infrastructure to reach their full potential, and to drive a further boost in passenger numbers. Midlands Engine Rail is essential in creating a more sustainable, productive and mobile Midlands.
“Whether they live in Shrewsbury, Lincoln, Birmingham or Leicester, our communities deserve the opportunity to make greener choices, to access a world-class education and to reach the widest possible variety of career opportunities. We must create a transport network that helps our businesses to grow, not holds them back”
“My message to the Prime Minister is clear; it’s time you made a long-overdue commitment to the future of our rail network. Ten million Midlanders are counting on you; invest in their futures, turn our vision into reality, back Midlands Engine Rail.”
Robert Nisbet, director of nations & regions at the Rail Delivery Group, which represents rail companies, said:
“Millions of train journeys are made in the Midlands every week and rail companies are working together to improve services, with new and refurbished trains being introduced to run more services. Further investment as part of Midlands Engine Rail will improve journeys for passengers between towns and cities across the region and power economic growth by unlocking new business opportunities.”