Where would we be without grand transport “visions”?! The latest region to reveal their vision is the West Midlands with current Mayor, Andy Street, unveiling a £15 billion plan for improvement to the Metro and rail network by 2040. A new map of what the transport network could look like in 20 years time has been released which would include not only new Metro lines but also improvements to the rail network and the potential for an underground Metro route – while it is presumed much will be extensions to the Metro the map doesn’t actually commit itself to which mode would be used for some of the routes.
The overview headline figures of the plan would see underground lines (discussed for Birmingham in the past as well but rejected), 150 miles of new lines and 380 more stops. From the map (which can be viewed here) the current – and already under construction extensions – of the West Midlands Metro would be rechristened the “Midland Line”. This would encompass the current Wolverhampton to Birmingham line plus branches to i54, Wednesfield and Birmingham International.
Almost the entirety of the West Midlands is included in Andy Street’s big vision for transport with not only Metro and heavy rail included but autonomous pods and an automated people mover would be utilised.
In total the following lines would be constructed, although there is no guarantee these will be trams or light rail at this stage:
Midland line: Wolverhampton/i54/Wednesfield to Birmingham International via Birmingham City Centre
Black Country line: Walsall to Stourbridge Town with a branch leading into Birmingham from Wednesbury (this branch is shown alongside the Midland line on the map but its not clear if it is the same line or a slightly different alignment)
Chamberlain line: Minworth to Longbridge with short branches to Harborne and Frankley
Macarthur line: Halesowen via Birmingham City Centre to Birmingham International and Solihul
Elizabeth line: Orbital around Birmingham City Centre
Lee Woods line: Sutton Coldfield to Solihull
Zephaniah line: Walsall to Maypole
Godiva line: HS2 interchange to Coventry
Andy Street commented at the launch: “For too long we have been left behind London and Manchester, and other cities around the world. We are a world-class city region and we deserve a world-class Metro and rail network. In recent years we have made great progress completing the Metro extension to Centenary Square on time and on budget, and bringing the plans for the new rail stations to life in South Birmingham and the Black Country. But now is time for the next stage of ambition. This plan will connect communities which haven’t had Metro or rail lines for decades, and restore pride in the West Midlands.”
Funding? It is hoped central government will help as well as borrowing against future fare revenue on the West Midlands Metro. Wherever it comes from the full plans would cost a cool £750 million every year for 20 years.
Ambitious? Yes. But we don’t get anywhere without ambition! Only time will tell if even a portion of this happens. And who would have thought, Andy Street is due to stand for re-election in May…