High Speed Rail Industry Leaders welcomes the launch of Midlands Engine Rail – a £3.5 billion improvement programme to transform the region’s rail network – by Sub-national Transport Body Midlands Connect. The programme emphasises the essential importance of HS2 to the future of the transport network in the region, acknowledging HS2 as the backbone of the Midlands’ future plans for east-west and north-south rail passenger and freight connectivity across the region and beyond.
Made up of seven projects spanning the East and West Midlands, the programme is strategically-important in supercharging the Midlands Engine economy and is designed to drive sustainability, productivity and social mobility across the whole region. It also includes and builds upon the flagship Midlands Rail Hub scheme; aimed at boosting east-west connectivity, which was submitted to Government in June 2019.
Set to be delivered in stages from 2022 to the completion of HS2 Phase Two, Midlands Engine Rail will provide a much-needed capacity boost for national, local and regional rail services, creating space for 736 more passenger trains on the network each day. Over the past two years, rail passenger numbers have risen faster in the Midlands than anywhere else in the UK.
Up to 60 locations could benefit from improved services, including Birmingham, Leicester, Coventry, Nottingham, Derby, Stoke-on-Trent, Crewe, Shrewsbury, Lincoln, Worcester and Wolverhampton.
Due to the Midlands’ central position at the heart of the UK transport network, the programme is also nationally-significant, driving benefits as far afield as Cardiff, Bristol, Newcastle, Kettering and Sheffield.
Midlands Engine Rail is fully integrated with HS2 and includes plans for two new conventional-compatible services that will directly link Nottingham and Leicester city centres to the new high speed network.
Improvements will increase the speed and frequency of existing services as well as introducing new direct services; for example, linking Leicester to the cities of Leeds and Coventry. It is also designed to reduce carbon emissions and encourage both passengers and freight off the roads and onto the railways.