National Rail has recently published a report suggesting a new Midlands Rail Hub could see a £2 billion boost to the economy over the next 10 to 30 years. The West Midlands and Chilterns Route study states that a Hub could, by improving access to London from the Chiltern Main Line by connecting it with HS2 and then Crossrail, significantly enhance economic productivity.
The report estimates that by creating the Hub, it would allow up to 150 extra trains every day in and out of Birmingham which would mean 85,000 additional seats as well as improving connectivity between the East and West Midlands. It is seen as vital that the existing rail network connects with the new HS2 route and the huge economic benefits it is expected to deliver. The study also highlights that the rail industry must plan now for improvements needed to meet expected future increased demand from passengers, thereby supporting economic growth by linking people with jobs and opportunities, as well as goods and services.
This report follows an interim report published last year by Midlands Connect – comprising of 28 Local Authorities and 11 Local Enterprise partnerships – which made a number of recommendations. Their report concluded that a Midlands Rail Hub could potentially deliver a £200 million boost per year to the local economy and up to 250,000 jobs. They suggest that growth sites near new HS2 stations need to be integrated into existing rail networks with HS2 potentially sharing development costs and perhaps even taking possession of any such Hub. The report states that one quarter of local professional organisations were “likely” or “highly likely” to relocate if transport connections were not improved and calls for increased franchises and faster journey times in the region as the only way of ensuring overcrowding does not occur by 2023. They have suggested an extra ten trains each way per hour for Birmingham to deliver significant economic benefits.
The Midlands Rail Hub is seen as part of a programme of improvements to improve access to Birmingham’s new HS2 station at Curzon Street and the hoped-for ten new services per hour would serve and expanded Moor Street Station which is seen as a key gateway to an adjacent HS2 station. It is hoped that some key elements of the proposals could be in place for the predicted opening of HS2 in 2026.