Transport for West Midlands (TfWM) has welcomed today's Autumn Statement announcement of £5 million funding to develop the Midlands Rail Hub.
Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond said the cash was to allow an evaluation study for the scheme to go ahead.
Midlands Rail Hub is a programme of rail upgrades in and around central Birmingham to provide up to 10 additional trains per hour in and out of the city and boost rail links across the wider Midlands and to the East Midlands economic centres of Derby, Leicester and Nottingham.
It is overseen by Midlands Connect, a partnership of 28 local authorities, 11 Local Enterprise Partnerships, Network Rail, Highways England, HS2 Ltd and business.
Transport for West Midlands (TfWM), part of the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA), is a key partner in Midlands Connect and welcomed the investment as a signal of continued government confidence in the Midlands’ plans for growth.
The Midlands Rail Hub will significantly enhance the capability of the region's rail network through a package of interventions in the central Birmingham area and facilitate an extra 10 trains per hour into and out of the city across the Midlands.
Cllr Roger Lawrence, WMCA lead member for transport, said: “This commitment by the Chancellor to the Midlands Rail Hub recognises the key economic role of the West Midlands as the heart of the Midlands Engine and as the hub of the UK's rail network.
“The £5m announced today will allow Midlands Connect to accelerate the feasibility work on the enhancements to the railway required to accommodate these additional services and maximise the benefits of the arrival of HS2 across the Midlands.
“Midlands Rail Hub will enable 10 additional trains an hour in and out of Birmingham, improving connectivity for passengers and businesses between key economic centres across both the East and West Midlands and add freight capacity into our key container hubs at Birmingham, Hams Hall and Birch Coppice.”
Laura Shoaf, TfWM managing director, said: "£5m to develop the Midlands Rail Hub is fantastic news for passengers and for the region's economy.
“The rail network into Birmingham New St station is effectively at capacity and Midlands Rail Hub will allow new services to be provided not just on our key intercity routes but also to local centres.”
Midlands Rail Hub is a key part of the programme to improve access to Birmingham's new HS2 Station at Curzon St and the 10 new train services in and out of Birmingham will all serve an expanded Moor St Station - a key gateway to the adjacent HS2 station.
It is hoped that the main elements of the Midlands Rail Hub will be in service in time for the opening of HS2 in 2026.