Transport chiefs in the West Midlands are to bid for £1.7 billion in funding to support a raft of new projects – including four new tram routes.
The board of the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) has today approved plans to put in a bid to central Government for transport investment across the region.
The so-called City Region Sustainable Transport Settlement bid is intended to support investment from 2022 to 2027.
Among the highlights is an extension to the West Midlands Metro along Birmingham’s notoriously congested Hagley Road in Edgbaston to Bearwood at least, reports the Local Democracy Reporting Service.
WMCA said it hoped the metro would be extended along the road “as far as the business case allows”.
The line is currently being extended from outside Library of Birmingham along Broad Street to Hagley Road where it will terminate.
Known as the ‘Westside Extension’, it is due to finish by the end of this year.
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The other planned expansions of the tram network are:
– Previously mooted connection between central Wolverhampton and New Cross Hospital north east of the city
– A link between Wednesbury and Walsall along a disused railway line
– A route between Brierley Hill and Stourbridge
WMCA proposals also include the refurbishment of the original tram line between Birmingham and Wolverhampton including an upgrade of overhead cables and power supply.
If the authority’s bid is successful, funding will also go towards these other transport projects:
– Adding a fourth platform at Snow Hill station, as reported last week
– Building and opening Aldridge railway station
– Developing a business case for theSutton Park railway line which is currently freight only
– A new station at Tettenhall
– Redevelopment of Solihull station
– A rail and bus interchange in Sutton Coldfield
– 16 new cycle routes to develop the ‘Starley Network’ – including an extension of the existing A38 cycleway from Selly Oak to Longbridge in Birmingham and Kersley to Coventry city centre
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– Around 1,000 new electric vehicle charging points and ten ultra-fast charging stations for commercial vehicles
– Completion of Coventry Very Light Rail which aims to connect employment sites with the city centre and the railway station
– Expansion of bus ‘on demand’ and other ‘demand-responsive’ transport
– Four new park and ride sites
– £8 million towards road safety measures
Also included in the report to the board was Dudley Road corridor improvements to support connectivity between Smethwick and Birmingham.
The report to councillors at today’s meeting said that, although £1.7 billion was being asked for, the amount to come from the Department for Transport was unlikely to be above £1.3 billion and might be lower.
The West Midlands will be in competition with other mayoral authorities for the funds.
Mayor Andy Street said: “We are already putting unprecedented investment in our transport network with projects such as the new Wednesbury to Brierley Hill Metro extension, the opening of five new railway stations and the roll out of West Midlands Cycle Hire earlier this year.
“This new funding will build on that by not only helping us get some projects, such as Aldridge railway station over the finishing line, but set us well on the road to a real revolution in transport for the West Midlands, delivering the next round of Metro extensions, bus routes and train lines that will help our region grow and prosper.”
At today’s meeting, a £540 million package of measures aimed at improving bus services in the region was also approved.
– Lower and simpler fares involving uniform pricing and seamless ticketing across operators and types of transport
– Investment in 68 miles of new bus lanes and priority junctions
– Enhanced real time information showing where a bus is
– Accurate fastest route information
– Intensive services on key routes connecting popular destinations
– Greater provision on local networks including evenings and weekends
– Move to a new zero-emission bus fleet
– Improved safety with increased CCTV coverage
The board also approved the submission of a full business case to the Government for 200 new hydrogen double deck buses and 24 articulated hydrogen buses over the next two years.
The bid also includes seven electric, single-deck buses for use in Wolverhampton as well as hydrogen refuelling at two bus depots in the West Midlands.
The overall cost of the project, if approved by the Government, would be £148.8 million including £54.9 million from the Department for Transport and £91.1 million from operators.