The West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) have approved bids to the Government’s City Region Sustainable Transport Settlement (CRSTS) fund and Bus Service Improvement Plan fund at a recent board meeting which could see up to four new West Midlands Metro extensions built as part of a £2 billion investment in public transport in the region over the next five years.
Of this funding £280 million would be put towards improving the existing West Midlands Metro network – described as a refurbishment and upgrade of the original line – as well as the design and detailed planning work for the next series of extensions. These would be:
- Wednesbury to Walsall via the disused railway line
- Wolverhampton City Centre to New Cross Hospital
- Hagley Road, Edgbaston to Sandwell
- Brierley Hill to Stourbridge
The bid also includes funding for the Very Light Rail scheme in Coventry and there could also be railway station reopenings, the expansion of Snow Hill and Moor Street railway stations and on the bus side there would be the development of 110km of new bus priority routes.
Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands, 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.”
The WMCA are bidding for a share of a £4.2 billion CRSTS funding pot set-a-side by the Government and is only available to Mayoral Combined Authorities and aimed at projects which support inclusive economic growth, provide better connections between places and encourage more people to use sustainable and zero-carbon transport.