Plans for 20 new train services an hour to and from Birmingham Moor Street station are at the heart of a £2 billion package of improvements to transform east-west connections on the Midlands rail network.
The Midlands Rail Hub outlines plans to build 15 pieces of new and improved infrastructure across the Midlands to enable 24 extra passenger trains every hour on the regional network, reduce journey times.
The plans, which will be completed in phases between 2024 and 2033, have been submitted to the government by Sub-national Transport Body Midlands Connect, in partnership with Network Rail and with the backing of 47 partner organisations including West Midlands Combined Authority, local authorities, LEPs, chambers of commerce, HS2 and Birmingham Airport.
In the last two years, rail usage in the Midlands has grown faster than anywhere else in the UK1, with growth in the last decade of 121% in the West Midlands. Without investment, the region’s rail network can’t keep pace with this record demand, and many services between major towns and cities in the Midlands remain slow and infrequent. Birmingham New Street, the busiest station outside London, is close to capacity.
Building additional capacity into the network will allow 20 extra trains an hour to stop at Birmingham Moor Street, bringing significant benefits to passengers:
- An estimated six million more rail journeys per year and an estimated economic benefit of £649 million a year by 2037;
- Two extra trains per hour in both directions between Birmingham-Leicester and Birmingham-Derby;
- Two extra commuter services per hour in both directions on the Camp Hill Line between Kings Norton-Birmingham Moor Street, via Hazelwell, Kings Heath & Moseley;
- One extra train per hour in both directions between Birmingham-Nottingham, Birmingham-Hereford via Worcester, Birmingham-Cardiff and Birmingham-Bristol;
- Journey time savings of 13 minutes between Birmingham-Leicester (55 to 42 minutes), 13 minutes between Birmingham-Nottingham (72 to 59 minutes) and 20 minutes between Birmingham-Hereford (85 to 65 minutes).
The proposed investment in and around Birmingham includes:
Bordesley Chords (2026-2033): Two new viaducts to link services from the South West and East Midlands into Moor Street station, including opening up extra platforms to provide extra fast services on those corridors, and link to HS2 at Curzon Street (estimated cost £900-£950 million);
Birmingham Snow Hill enhancements (2024-2026): Reinstating the fourth platform at Snow Hill station, allowing additional services to call and terminate, and opening up space at Moor Street (estimated cost £20-30million);
Kings Norton Turnback Siding (2024-2026): new passing places create space for additional Camp Hill Line services between Birmingham and Kings Norton (estimated cost £30-35 million).
Integration with HS2
A new footbridge taking passengers directly to HS2 services on Curzon Street will be built at Birmingham Moor Street (pictured).
Slow, indirect and infrequent rail services between big cities mean that most travellers make a high proportion of journeys by car. Reversing this trend will reduce carbon emissions:
- Birmingham-Leicester – 13% by train, 87% by car;
- Birmingham-Nottingham – 18% by train, 82% by car;
- Birmingham-Derby – 22% by train, 78% by car.
Rail freight produces 76 percent less CO2 than the equivalent road haulage journey. By making space for 36 new freight paths a day, the Midlands Rail Hub can take the equivalent of 4,320 lorries off the road and on to rail every day, significantly reducing carbon emissions.
The Midlands Rail Hub comes with the backing of Midlands Connect’s 47 partnership organisations, including West Midlands Combined Authority, local authorities, chambers of commerce and LEPs, as well as Network Rail, HS2 and Birmingham Airport.
Sir John Peace, Chair of Midlands Connect, said:
“The Midlands Rail Hub is a cost-effective, evidence-led plan to upgrade our Victorian infrastructure to meet the demands of the future. These proposals capture the enormous economic potential of the Midlands, with 320,000 new jobs estimated by 2030, mainly in professional services firms who depend on good rail connectivity to attract skilled workers.
“This investment must happen alongside delivering HS2 in its entirety, from the West Midlands to the East Midlands and on to the north of England. The next Prime Minister of this country must not ignore the Midlands, the 10 million people who live here, or our £220 billion annual contribution to the UK economy. Now is the time for the government to prove to the Midlands it’s listening to us.”
Tim Shoveller, managing director for Network Rail’s North West & Central Region, said:
“Passenger numbers are set to rise by 12% in our region over the next five years. When realised the Midlands Rail Hub will transform rail travel for millions more passengers every year. We share our partners’ vision for the Midlands Rail Hub which will give passengers more choice and drive economic growth by better connecting towns and cities across the East and West Midlands.”
What happens next?
Following the submission of the Midlands Rail Hub Strategic Outline Business Case to the Department for Transport, Midlands Connect has requested an additional £25 million in funding to bring the project to “Outline Business Case” stage of development, which includes specific scheme development and sequencing, a full overview of benefits, project designs, and a full risk assessment.