Massive plans to extend a tram route along Hagley Road towards the Black Country are at the centre of a proposed £1.7 billion funding bid.
The City Region Sustainable Transport Settlement (CRSTS) bid is intended to support capital transport investment within the region from April 2022 to March 2027.
This includes plans for four new Metro routes – one of which is proposed to extend the line from Five Ways in Birmingham down Hagley Road towards the Black Country.
The authority has said it is hoped the Metro line will be extended along the road “as far as the business case allows” – with the business case now set to be drawn up following board approval.
Phase two of the Birmingham Westside extension is already set to see the tramway extended from the Library tram stop in Centenary Square along Broad Street to Hagley Road just west of Five Ways.
It is due to open in December – and the plans being progressed are intended to see that route extended as least as far as Bearwood, Sandwell.
Also proposed is the previously mooted Metro connection between Wolverhampton and New Cross Hospital.
A Metro link between Wednesbury to Walsall along disused railway line and a route between Brierley Hill and Stourbridge are also proposed.
The plans also include the refurbishment of the original Birmingham to Wolverhampton line – including an upgrade of overhead cables and “modernisation of power supply”.
If the bid is successful, funding will go towards detailed planning of these new lines.
- Supporting the wider Midlands Rail Hub scheme – including the development of platform four at Snow Hill, reported by the Local Democracy Reporting Service last week
- Building and opening Aldridge Station railway station
- Developing a business case and plans to reopen the Sutton Park railway line – currently used for freight only
- The start of plans for a new railway station at Tettenhall
- The redevelopment of Solihull Railway Station
- The “complete development” of a new rail and bus interchange Sutton Coldfield town centre
- 16 new cycle routes proposed to further develop the “Starley Network” – including an extension of the Birmingham A38 cycleway to Longbridge and Kersley to Coventry City Centre
- Around 1,000 new electric vehicle charging points to “support the switch from petrol and diesel” and ten ultra-fast charging stations for commercial vehicles
- The completion of Coventry Very Light Rail – “offering benefit of trams, without large construction costs and timescales”. The project is intended to connect “major employment sites” with the city centre and the railway station
- An expansion of bus “On-Demand” and other “demand-responsive” transport
- Four new park and ride sites
- £8 million towards road safety measures to reduce serious accidents
Also included in the report to the board was mention of “Dudley Road corridor improvements to support connectivity between Smethwick and Birmingham”.
The report to councillors at today’s board meeting states although £1.7 billion is being asked for, the amount to come from Department for Transport is unlikely to be above £1.3 billion and “indeed may be lower than this value”.
The WMCA will be in competition with other mayoral authorities for the funds.
The plans are intended to address challenges such as reducing transport carbon emissions to address climate change as well as improving “equity of access” to improve social mobility.
Mayor of the West Midlands 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.
“This investment will transform the fortunes of communities by better linking people to key locations like New Cross Hospital and by making the switch to public transport and active travel easier and better value for everyone.”
Cllr Ian Ward, WMCA portfolio holder for transport and leader of Birmingham City Council, added: “We have set out an ambitious bid which supports our aims of delivering a green revolution in transport and targets investment in the region’s more deprived and poorly connected communities – as better connections attracts both jobs and supports new housing.
“It is therefore right to make a huge ask of Government to secure the funding necessary to deliver on these plans and give people more reasons to take the tram, bus and train or cycle.”
At the same meeting, a £540 million package of measures intended to improve bus services in the region were also improved.
The authority has said these will include:
- “Lower and simpler fares” involving “uniform pricing and seamless ticketing” across operators and types of transport
- An investment in 68 miles of new bus lanes and priority junctions with “more cross-city bus services to improve journey times and punctuality”
- “Enhanced real time information” for passengers showing where the bus is on the network and as well as “accurate fastest route information”
- “Intensive services on key routes connecting popular destinations and greater service provision on local networks including evenings and weekends”
- Accelerating the delivery of a zero-emission bus fleet
- Improving safety with “increased CCTV coverage, higher visibility of staff and increased powers to tackle anti-social behaviour on the network”
The board also approved the submission of a full business case to 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 Government would be £148.8 million including £54.9 million from the Department for Transport and £91.1 million from operators.
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