Midlands Connect: Powering the Midlands Engine

  • The Midlands Connect Partnership has proposed a 25 year programme of investment in strategic road and rail improvements that will reduce congestion and improve journey times across the Midlands
  • The investment programme will also unleash economic growth across the Midlands and help to rebalance the national economy
  • Proposals will help boost the Midlands economy by £5 billion and contribute to Midlands Engine target of creating 300,000 new jobs

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:

  • The ‘Midlands Rail Hub’, which will help release up to an extra 85,000 train seats across the network every day and allow up to ten extra trains an hour through central Birmingham – currently a key bottleneck limiting east-west rail movements.
  • A package of improvements along the A46 corridor running across the Midlands from Tewksbury to the Lincolnshire coast to support the manufacturing sector – starting with improvements around Newark.
  • A package of improvements along the A52 corridor between Derby and Nottingham including access to the East Midlands HS2 Hub Station at Toton and East Midlands Airport – to be delivered by the end of the 2020’s as a critical part of improving east-west connectivity.
  • A series of improvements to help relieve traffic pressures across the heart of the midlands motorway network, including the future roles of the A42 and A5 corridors in improving east and west links.
  • Over-arching all the projects is an ambition to increase intelligent connectivity across the Midlands. This could involve smart and digital travel applications as well as trials for connected passenger and freight autonomous vehicles.

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.”

Midlands Connect Strategy: Powering the Midlands Engine will be available from 09:30 on 09.03.2017 and can be downloaded from: www.midlandsconnect.uk/publications

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