West Midlands Rail has welcomed news in the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement of a £5 million development funding package for the Midlands Rail Hub.
Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond said the cash would mean the go-ahead for an evaluation study for the scheme.
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.
West Midlands Rail Chair and Staffordshire County Council's Cabinet Member for Economic Growth, Cllr Mark Winnington, said: “The Midlands Rail Hub will be vital for meeting the local travel needs of the growing conurbation in the West Midlands, reducing congestion and enabling new services.
“West Midlands Rail will be working closely with Midlands Connect to ensure that opportunities to improve local journeys and commuting into Birmingham through the Midlands Rail Hub are maximised.”
The 10 additional trains an hour in and out of Birmingham, will mean better local services and connectivity for passengers and businesses between key economic centres across both the East and West Midlands and add freight capacity into key container hubs at Birmingham, Hams Hall and Birch Coppice.
Cllr Winnington said the £5m would accelerate feasibility work on the enhancements to the railway required to accommodate the additional services and maximise the benefits of the arrival of HS2 across the Midlands.
Midlands Rail Hub is 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.
West Midlands Rail is a partnership of fourteen metropolitan, district, shire and unitary local transport authorities seeking to gain greater local influence over the region's rail services.