A NEW £3.5billion Midlands Engine Rail improvement programme to transform the region’s transport network could see an extra train to Birmingham every hour from Droitwich Station.
The scheme was launched this week by the sub-national transport body Midlands Connect in a bid to increasing convenience and choice for commuters, tourists and leisure visitors alike.
The integrated plan would operate hand in hand with the completion of HS2 Phase Two – the lines from Birmingham to Crewe and from the Second City to the East Midlands and Leeds.
It would be delivered in stages from 2022 and would create space for 736 more passenger trains on the network every day, including 32 of the services running in and out of Worcestershire.
Over the past two years, rail passenger numbers have risen faster in the Midlands than anywhere else in the UK.
Civic and business leaders are now calling on Prime Minister Boris Johnson to back Midlands Engine Rail, fund the next stage of its development (£45.5million 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.”
Sharon Smith, chief executive of Herefordshire and Worcestershire Chamber, said it was essential steps were taken to update the overcrowded rail network, giving businesses the tools they need to attract skilled workers, visitors and tourists.
“As the UK moves towards its target of becoming carbon neutral by 2050, rail travel will become increasingly important and we need to create the extra capacity required to accommodate a further growth in passenger numbers.
“Infrastructure investment attracts inward investment and boosts business confidence – we must ensure Midlands Engine Rail is delivered in its entirety.”