Rail network in West Midlands to undergo 'revolution' under plans for more services, stations and lines

Railway stations could be built, lines could be reopened and more services introduced to London under major plans to create a "rail revolution" in the region.

West Midlands Mayor Andy Street and managing director of Ian McConnell during a launch of new trains on the Shrewsbury line earlier this month
West Midlands Mayor Andy Street and managing director of Ian McConnell during a launch of new trains on the Shrewsbury line earlier this month

Transport bosses have unveiled their vision to develop the network up to 2050 with a string of projects being proposed as the sector bounces back from Covid.

It comes as rail travel across the West Midlands is expected to increase two-thirds over the period, with pre-pandemic levels of passengers returning by 2026.

Under plans, more services between London and Shrewsbury, through Wolverhampton, whilst Birmingham to Crewe services will be routed via Walsall by 2026.

It will call at at Darlaston and Willenhall stations, set to open in 2024, whilst longer trains will be introduced on routes to Stourbridge, Kidderminster and Worcester.

More drastic proposals would see routes between Walsall and Lichfield reopened and a potential for a "rail tunnel" underneath Birmingham city centre to link stations.

West Midlands Mayor Andy Street, chair of the West Midlands Rail Executive (WMRE) which released a consultation over its draft proposals, said: "We are making great progress on developing our rail network with new stations in the pipeline on the Camp Hill Line and at Darlaston and Willenhall, and working with our partners like West Midlands Trains to improve services and rolling stock.

“But there is no doubt that rail is facing challenges following the Covid 19 pandemic but this strategy shows that passenger numbers will return and it remains a crucial part of our transport network and will play a key role in tackling the climate emergency.

“Therefore we have set out how we plan to grow the network in a coordinated way over the next three decades to better connect communities to the jobs and opportunities our region has to offer.”

Between 2026 and 2031, there is hope for an hourly service between London and Shrewsbury – as well as brand new stations at Tettenhall and Shrewsbury Parkway and one at Meecebrook, to the west of Stone at Cold Meece.

However that isn't all with a new shuttle service running between Lichfield and Burton calling at a new station at Alrewas, for the National Memorial Arboretum, by 2031 under the draft plans.

And a new station at Aldridge, and the extension of Rugeley trains to Stafford, have been proposed as part of the draft plans, with the Walsall to Lichfield route reopened – with new stations – and new services between the Chase line and Wolverhampton between 2040 to 2050 – as well as a new link to Ironbridge.

The draft strategy aims to support the region's recovery from Covid-19, contribute to net-zero carbon targets, support the "levelling up" agenda and maximise the benefits of HS2. It was first launched in 2018 but has been revised after Covid-19 and developed further.

It has been led by the WMRE and developed with rail industry partners including Midlands Connect and the Department for Transport, with businesses and people being asked to have their say. A final draft will later be presented to transport chiefs for approval.

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