£1bn transport funding for West Midlands: Which projects are likely to go ahead?

The funding is the largest single transport sum that the West Midlands Combined Authority have ever received

The West Midlands region has been awarded £1bn funding to improve its transport infrastructure by the Government.

The announcement is welcome news for the West Midlands Combined Authority which has ambitious plans to drive a green transport revolution.

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These plans include tram extensions, more train stations, new buses, more electric vehicle charging points and extra cycle network which form part of an overall ambition for the West Midlands to be Net Zero by 2041.

But WMCA actually bid for £2bh - so the question remains, which projects are likely to go ahead? And when will they come to fruition?

The answer isn’t straightforward and a full picture is not expected to be identified until the beginning of next year - April at the latest.

The WMCA and partners are meanwhile seeking additional funding opportunities through other government sources such as the Levelling Up Fund and the Bus Service Improvement Plan to support projects which cannot go forward through CRSTS.

Birmingham City Centre

What are the next steps towards seeing the benefits of the £1bn transport funding? And what were the key parts of the bid?

WMCA is set to discuss the most suitable projects to fund with the funding with local councils across the region.

It is likely that a more solid idea of the exact initiatives that will be key to achieving improvements in public transport will be decided on in the first part of 2022.

Work has already started on some key initiatives, including the Sprint Bus Route which will run from Walsall to Birmingham through to Solihull.

This is due to open in May, well in time for the Commonwealth Games which begin on July 28.

In making the award the Government  also mentioned the Ultra rapid electric vehicle charging points. WMCA bid for 10 at key locations - ie near busy routes.

Further extension of the Midland Metro tram network is a key part of the Transport for West Midlands bid for up to £2bn from government to improve services across the region

What are the parts of the bid which will now come under discussion?

Design and detailed planning work for the next series of Metro extensions:

  • Wednesbury to Walsall along the disused railway line
  • Wolverhampton city centre to New Cross Hospital
  • Hagley Road, Birmingham and Sandwell
  • Brierley Hill to Stourbridge 
  • Plans for development or redevelopment of rail stations and bus interchanges - Aldridge, Snow Hill, Sutton Coldfield Gateway and Solihull
  • Up to 16 new cycle routes - including extending A38 Bristol Road route to Longbridge.
  • And expansion of contactless ticketing and best value fare capping.

How quickly will the West Midlands see the benefits of the £1bn funding?

WMCA secured the money from the government’s City Region Sustainable Transport Settlement (CRSTS) fund.

This funding will cover five years from April 2022.

West Midlands Mayor Andy Street (PA/Steve Parsons)

What have the politicians said about the award in their own words?

Andy Street, the Mayor of the West Midlands, said: “I am absolutely delighted that our ambition has paid off and we’ve secured more than £1billion of Government investment to continue our transport revolution here in the West Midlands.

“It is the largest single transport sum we have ever received, and I know the team cannot wait to press on and start getting diggers in the ground on some truly game-changing schemes.

“From more Metro lines and train stations, to new bus routes and EV charging points, this cash will help us to continue to build a clean, green transport network that connects communities and tackles the climate emergency.”

Cllr Ian Ward. Leader of Birmingham City Council

Cllr Ian Ward, WMCA portfolio holder for transport and leader of Birmingham City Council, added: "The people and communities of the West Midlands must be at the heart of the government’s levelling up agenda and, of course, we would have liked to have seen more funding for our ambitions for the region.

"That said, it will nevertheless help us make a real difference to our communities, as we work on better connections to improve access to jobs and attract further investment.

“Projects like the extension of our Metro network will also encourage more people to leave their cars at home, improving the air we breathe and we’re committed to making this funding work for the people of this region."

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