Midlands Rail Hub: what you need to know about new rail scheme as HS2 northern leg cancelled

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The Midlands Rail Hub aims to transform rail travel across the whole of the Midlands - here’s what you need to know

Rishi Sunak has confirmed that he is axing the Birmingham to Manchester leg of High Speed Rail 2, the UK’s biggest infrastructure project in decades.

He has confirmed he will scrap plans for the northern leg of the line, meaning it will travel from London to Birmingham and not beyond.

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Speaking at the conference, on HS2, he said he is “cancelling” the rest of the project, meaning everything outside of the London to Birmingham line. He added that “every single penny” saved from HS2 will go back into new transport projects in the North and Midlands, an amount which the PM says is £36 billion.

£1.75 billion is also set to be committed to deliver the Midlands Rail Hub.

How scrapping north HS2 route will impact Midlands Rail Hub Scheme

The Government released a statement on Wednesday afternoon, revealing how the money which was set aside for the northern leg of HS will now be spent, which you can see below:

  • the Midlands will receive £9.6 billion alone – with £1.75 billion to deliver the Midlands Rail Hub in full, benefiting more than 50 stations and 7 million people
  • the new East Midlands combined authority, covering Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire, will be given a transport investment fund of £1.5 billion
  • the number of trains between Leicester and Birmingham will be doubled from 2 to 4 per hour
  • £2.2 billion for the Midlands to combat the potholes causing misery for drivers
  • £230 million will be invested in increasing the frequency of bus services in the Midlands and the popular £2 bus fare will also be extended until the end of December 2024 instead of rising to £2.50 as planned

The Midlands Rail Hub will be delivered in full with £1.75 billion of increased investment to speed up journey times, increase capacity and boost frequency of services across the region.

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The statement also said the Conservatives will look at opportunities to upgrade infrastructure, including at Tamworth, to improve journey times between towns and cities on the East Coast Main Line (ECML). This includes possible linkages between Birmingham and Nottingham together with support for strategic stations in the East Midlands.

It is said It will benefit more than 50 stations in Birmingham and the wider Midlands.

Under the Midlands Rail Hub scheme, there would be 100 extra trains in the region every day. Residents across the East and West Midlands would also see reduced journey times as well as the increased number of rail journeys.

Two stations in Mr Savid Javid’s constituency, Bromsgrove and Barnt Green, could also benefit from the proposals. Bromsgrove would see an additional train per hour to Birmingham Moor Street and Hereford, as well as the capacity for an additional Cross City service to Birmingham New Street and beyond.

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Barnt Green would also benefit from an additional Cross City service to and from Redditch, which the Midlands Rail Hub provides capacity for.

West Midlands Combined Authority photoWest Midlands Combined Authority photo
West Midlands Combined Authority photo | WMCA

What exactly is the Midlands Rail Hub?

The Midlands Rail Hub is the region’s rail improvement scheme, which will cost from between £900m and £1.5bn.

The scheme proposes to bring South West Trains and Welsh Trains into Birmingham Moor Street, thereby increasing capacity at Birmingham New Street.

The scheme will add more than 14 million more seats on the rail network each year and provide faster, more frequent or new rail links for over 30 locations including: Birmingham, Bromsgrove, Nuneaton, Worcester, Hereford, Cardiff, Bristol, Cheltenham and Leicester.

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It also aims to bring 1.6 million more people to within an hour of the region’s biggest towns and cities by public transport. There will also be shorter journey times for lines from Birmingham to places like Worcester, Cardiff and Hereford.

The plans include building two ‘chords’ as well as 11 further engineering interventions throughout the region. Other significant investments to rail journeys include a ‘Bordesley West Chord’ creating new journeys from Moor Street to Bristol Temple Meads and Moor Street to Leicester.

The plans also include improving access to HS2 in the future in Birmingham and a better cross-city line with trains aiming to arrive every 10 minutes.

Some of the benefits to Birmingham will be:

  • An additional train per hour between Birmingham and Bristol
  • An additional train per hour between Birmingham and Cardiff via Gloucester stopping at Worcestershire Parkway
  • An additional train per hour between Birmingham and Hereford via Worcester. The service will also stop at Bromsgrove, Great Malvern & Droitwich & Great Malvern .
  • An additional fast train per hour between Leicester and Birmingham, stopping at Nuneaton.
  • An additional slow train per hour between Leicester and Birmingham. The service will stop at Coleshill Parkway, Nuneaton, Hinckley, Narborough & South Wigston

Plans for five new railway stations in and around Birmingham are being explored by Transport for West Midlands which will coincide with the Midlands Rail Hub.

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The new stations would be in addition to the three already announced for the Camp Hill line at Pineapple Road (Stirchley), Moseley and Kings Heath. The five new stations would be at: Balsall Heath, Coventry East, Foleshill, Castle Bromwich and Tattenhell.

Has it been approved?

The plans were submitted to the government on 5 December 2022 by body Midlands Connect, having been backed by West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) and West Midlands Rail Executive (WMRE), but haven’t been approved just yet.

Subject to funding, the project could begin construction as early as 2025 and be completed by 2030.

Representatives from Midlands Connect met with Bromsgrove MP, Sajid JavidRepresentatives from Midlands Connect met with Bromsgrove MP, Sajid Javid
Representatives from Midlands Connect met with Bromsgrove MP, Sajid Javid | WMCA

What has Sajid Javid and others said about the plans?

When he was Chancellor, Mr Javid granted £20m to Midlands Connect to fund the Outline Business Case. He said: “I was delighted to meet with representatives from Midlands Connect to discuss their Midlands Rail Hub project.

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“As Chancellor in 2019, I committed the Conservative Party to supporting this scheme and I look forward to seeing the fantastic benefits that it will bring to Bromsgrove District upon completion.”

Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands and chair of the WMRE and WMCA, said: “Midlands Rail Hub is a game changing scheme for our region. The benefits it can bring to local people and businesses are many – whether it’s connecting millions more people to the HS2 network; creating space for more local journeys, stations, and rail lines; or opening faster and more frequent rail links for commuters as well as business and leisure travellers.

“The Midlands Rail Hub will also enable a raft of local improvements including restoration of the full six train per hour service on Birmingham’s Cross City Line, faster journeys into Birmingham from the new Camp Hill line stations at Moseley Village, Kings Heath, and Pineapple Road.

“And crucially, Midlands Rail Hub provides the additional rail network capacity that will be required to support further expansion of the regional rail network including new stations and new services on routes such as the Sutton Park Line.”

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