Midlands Connect has been tasked by the Government to identify transport improvements to unlock the growth potential of the Midlands. A comprehensive strategy has been published today following 18 months of detailed, evidenced-based work and stakeholder engagement.
The proposals have the potential to unlock £5 billion in untapped economic potential and contribute to the wider Midlands Engine target of creating 300,000 new jobs over the next two decades.
Midlands Connect Strategy: Powering the Midlands Engine outlines the region’s vision to become an engine for growth through investment in transport infrastructure for this generation and the next.
Publication of the transport blueprint follows Chancellor Philip Hammond’s launch today (Thursday March 9) of the Midlands Engine Strategy which sets out how the Government plans to drive the region’s huge potential and promote it to the world.
The transport arm of the wider Midlands Engine has prioritised the improvements that will have the biggest impact to both the regional and national economies, and will use the strategy to secure consistent investment in the Midlands over the next 25 years.
If fully implemented, the strategy will help to un-block transport bottlenecks, increase productivity and prosperity, create job opportunities and improve the quality of life for those living, working and investing in the Midlands.
Transport Minister Andrew Jones said: “Good transport helps people get around and get on and is crucial to building an economy that works for all. The government is heavily investing in transport in the Midlands and across the country, spreading opportunity and growth. It’s important the Midlands speaks with one voice on its future transport priorities and I welcome the work undertaken by Midlands Connect to produce this strategy.”
Midlands Connect is a collaboration of councils and local enterprise partnerships across the Midlands, along with Highways England, HS2 Ltd and the Department for Transport as an associate member.
From maximising the benefits of HS2’s route across the region to creating better links between the east and west Midlands through a series of projects to improve train services, as well as connecting the UK to the rest of the world, the proposals are as transformational as they are ambitious.
Key early priorities include:
Sir John Peace, chairman of Midlands Connect and Midlands Engine, said: “We sit at the heart of the UK’s transport network and therefore an investment in this region’s transport will have a remarkable benefit to the whole country and create a positive ripple effect to boost the development of industry, skills and infrastructure.
“This strategy will help to secure the further infrastructure funding needed to lay the groundwork for improved connectivity across the Midlands, bringing the East and West closer together and opening the region’s businesses to the world.”
Over the next three years Midlands Connect will use £17 million of Government funding to undertake the planning and design work on early priorities.
It will also draw up the business cases needed to pursue a rolling 25-year programme of transport infrastructure investment. This long term approach is aimed at giving much needed certainty to businesses, communities and investors whilst also improving quality of life and skills with improved access to new opportunities both within the Midlands and beyond.
Sir John Peace continued, “If this strategy is fully realised the Midlands, together with Government, has an opportunity to use HS2 as a catalyst for growth and create a transport network that can deliver a once in a generation opportunity for long term economic success not just for us here, in the Midlands Engine, but across the UK.”
Stewart Towe CBE, chairman of The Black Country LEP, says: “The imminent arrival of HS2 through the Midlands is a great opportunity for our region, but a considered plan of action is needed to make the most of the opportunity. The Black Country is renowned across the globe for its rich heritage of manufacturing; connectivity, both digital and transport is critical to get our goods and services to the national and global markets that are we are serving as well as to our residents in their daily lives. The recommendations in this final Midlands Connect strategy provide the plan that could help realise our ambitions. In the process it will give people easier access to jobs and businesses across the Midlands from east to west and north to south.
“Flagship projects such as the Midlands Rail Hub could result in an extra 85,000 seats on the tracks across the Midlands every day, as well as increasing the speed of journeys. This will give commuters and businesses the tangible improvements they need for a better quality of life and environment to work in. Add that to the development work to be done on a midlands motorway hub and in the next decade the Midlands can power the UK transport network from its position at the heart of the UK transport network. If we are to see the true potential of our cities in the Midlands these recommendations need to be carried out as soon as possible. We are pleased to be collaborating across multiple LEPs to ensure we secure the investments required to improve our connectivity to global places and markets”.
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