Concerns remain over how the construction of five new railway stations in the West Midlands will be funded.
The final cost of the schemes is expected to be just over £117 million, with the Birmingham trio estimated at £61.4 million and the pair in Walsall at £55.84 million.
But very little of the required funding is currently in place, with the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) relying on a huge amount of cash from the Department for Transport (DfT) to get the stations over the line.
At the WMCA’s latest board meeting, £15 million of funding was agreed for the five stations, subject to receiving the full tranche from the Department for Transport.
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Lisa Trickett, Birmingham councillor for Brandwood and Kings Heath, believes announcements around “successful” projects such as these should be put on hold until more concrete funding has been secured.
She said: “What I was going to reflect – and again it’s an ongoing concern about how the combined authority does its business – is that there is still a massive hole in the budget for this proposal.
“What we are also still seeking is that full robust business plan from the West Midlands Rail Executive and also the timetable.
“Where I have a real concern here is that we have announcements, we have films produced about how great these stations could be.
“In my community residents get excited that something is going to happen and time and time again what we’re actually finding is the reality is very different from the announcement.
“All I’m asking for is clear transparency, clear accountability, that where there is the need still for a significant amount of work to be done, we are clear that our announcements reflect that fact.”
Birmingham City Council leader Ian Ward said he shared her concerns around the lack of secured funds but he also believed the WMCA had been transparent in its dealings so far.
“I can well understand why people might be getting excited in Moseley, Kings Heath and Hazelwell about the proposals,” he said.
“I don’t think we’ve been anything other than transparent about the ask that is required of the DfT and indeed the WMCA put forward an outline business case through this board. We now have the full business case so we are being transparent in all of this – as transparent as we can be.”
Two trains an hour will serve the trio of new Birmingham stations and one per hour for Willenhall and Darlaston.