The Black Country must have better rail links if it is to enjoy increased employment opportunities, a leading transport campaigner has claimed.

Kevin Chapman, from West Midlands Campaign for Better Transport, believes a new railway station at Willenhall as well as increased routes between Walsall and Aldridge would bring huge benefits to the area.

His statements come as passenger transport body Centro revealed it has commissioned a study into rail services in Walsall and will explore whether a station could be built at Willenhall.

Mr Chapman believes this would be key to the area which is set to experience a surge in house building activity and continued regeneration.

He said: “The study commissioned by Centro is very welcome however the ultimate decision as to whether new services will run rests with the Department for Transport (DfT).

“Local rail services are a success in the West Midlands and the network helps to keep thousands of cars off the roads.

“However, there is a need for additional capacity and to improve transport links around the Black Country.

“Willenhall, which is one of the most deprived parts of the area, would benefit from improved transport links to employment opportunities in Birmingham, Wolverhampton and Walsall, and a rail link would offer a fast service.

“We hope this study will lead to positive improvements to the Black Country rail network over the next few years, and we hope that the DfT and Network Rail will look favourably on it and commit to the infrastructure improvements needed for the Black Country.”

The study will also look at whether it is feasible to create better links between Walsall and Stourbridge through the use of trams and trains.

Centro, Walsall Council and Wolverhampton City Council are funding the study which was commissioned in the wake of the withdrawal of funding for the Walsall to Wolverhampton rail service. The service has been withdrawn because the Department for Transport refused to fund it any longer.