More than two million people could benefit from new direct services to Birmingham International and Coventry stations under ambitious transport plans being outlined today.
Infrastructure work costing up to £180 million is proposed which would increase the number of direct services to the two stations and offer greater connectivity to passengers as far afield as the North East.
Dubbed the ‘Birmingham Airport Connectivity’ scheme, it would give an additional 2.2 million passengers direct services for the first time to the two stations which serve the airport, Resorts World and NEC campus in Solihull and Coventry city centre.
Transport chiefs in the Midlands have now submitted an outline business case in partnership with Network Rail to the Department for Transport and are initially asking for £20 million to develop detailed plans, designs and final costings.
Birmingham Airport Connectivity has a series of proposals for the rail network aimed at benefiting the West Midlands and beyond.
There would be direct connections between Birmingham International and Coventry with locations such as Derby, Sheffield, York, Durham and Newcastle although these would only be introduced after phase one of HS2 is completed.
Services between Birmingham International and Coventry and Leamington Spa, Banbury, Oxford and Reading would double to two trains per hour.
A new direct service is also proposed between Oxford and Birmingham Moor Street, Solihull and Warwick Parkway.
These changes will be enabled by installing double tracks on sections of the railway between Leamington Spa, Kenilworth and Coventry as well as utilising the additional network capacity created by HS2.
Once this double tracking has been completed, an additional service per hour to Birmingham International and Coventry from Oxford, Banbury and Leamington Spa could be introduced straight away.
The cost of the project is estimated at between £125 million and £180 million with work potentially starting in 2024 if the plan is backed by central Government.
The strategy has been devised by transport body Midlands Connect which said it was central to fulfilling the Government’s levelling-up agenda.
The body also says the new services would take passengers off the busy Birmingham and Coventry corridor which it claims is one of the busiest commuter routes in Europe.
Birmingham Airport Connectivity is one of seven schemes making up the £3.5 billion Midlands Engine Rail programme which was released last September and outlined a major overhaul of the region’s network including more than 400 extra passenger trains a day.
Sir John Peace, chairman of Midlands Connect, said: “As we work to recover from the economic impacts of covid-19, embarking on an ambitious and successful path post-Brexit, our international connections and relationships with other UK regions will become more important than ever.
“Integrating these upgrades into the existing network, with the arrival of HS2 at the Interchange station (in Solihull), will generate unparalleled investment and growth, creating jobs, thousands of new homes and more places to work, live and relax.
“Our proposals will benefit workers, residents and travellers, bringing two million more people to within a direct rail journey of these exciting destinations.”