More than 3,500 jobs could be created and safeguarded by a huge infrastructure project which is aiming to improve rail services across the Midlands.
New figures released by transport body Midlands Connect show that 2,880 jobs will be safeguarded by the delivery of Midlands Engine Rail and a further 720 new jobs created.
The Midlands Engine Rail programme aims to increase capacity on the region’s railways and provide faster, more frequent rail services for passengers.
Composed of seven schemes, it will deliver 736 extra passenger services a day and will benefit more than 60 stations across the UK.
The project includes the flagship Midlands Rail Hub and Birmingham Airport Connectivity – a scheme to enhance national rail connectivity to Coventry and Birmingham International stations.
There are also plans for faster and more frequent trains on the Birmingham-Black Country-Shrewsbury corridor; improvements on the Nottingham-Newark-Lincoln line and the reintroduction of direct rail links between Coventry, Leicester and Nottingham.
In total, Midlands Engine Rail will add 30 million passenger seats on the railway each year.
The project will also create space for over a million lorries’ worth of cargo to be transported on the railways each year, rather than by road – helping to reduce CO2 by 78 per cent.
Midlands Connect chairman Sir John Peace said: “Midlands Connect is working in partnership with Government to deliver a transport network fit for the future, and to build back better after Covid-19.
“What’s really positive about Midlands Engine Rail is that as well as boosting train travel, by creating 30 million extra passenger seats every year, it will also create and safeguard thousands of jobs.
“This series of projects will create a construction and engineering boom that will support critical sectors of the economy and protect skilled jobs.”
He added: “We are awaiting the release of the Integrated Rail Plan to understand Government’s rail priorities in the Midlands, but our research is clear: this investment in our region would be worth every single penny.”
Andy Street, the Mayor of the West Midlands, said: “The transport benefits from the Midlands Engine Rail proposals, particularly the Midlands Rail Hub, have always been clear – more train journeys, a better-connected region, and reduced carbon emissions. But now for the first time we’re also able to see the impact these proposals will have on jobs in the region.
“We know we must redouble our efforts to promote jobs growth across the West Midlands given the damage the pandemic has caused, which is why I have a plan to create 100,000 jobs in just two years. To do this we must make the most of proposals that not only safeguard existing jobs, but create new ones too.”
The findings will be outlined at a Midlands COP online event taking place today (Wednesday).
The free all-day event will focus on how the region can decarbonise its transport network and support sustainable growth in jobs and the economy.