The upgrade and expansion of regional-wide rail services is essential to get the city moving, a leading councillor has warned.
More services, running later at night and more lines such as the ones serving Fort Shopping Park and Castle Vale and Sutton Park need to reopen to tackle traffic congestion in Birmingham, according to Coun Robert Alden.
Coun Alden (Cons, Erdington), a member of both the West Midlands Passenger Transport Authority and Birmingham City Council’s transport watchdog committee, said that investment in rail should be a priority instead of cheaper bus services.
He said: “It is important to put rail over buses as more people prefer to get on a train than a bus and the railway is more environmentally friendly.
“Rail is where the investment has got to go. There is no suburban rail service in Birmingham after between 10pm and 11pm, meaning there is no option for people on a night out.
“Many will not catch night buses so their only option is a taxi.
“We will not solve this city’s transport problems until we have made significant improvements to the rail network.”
He pointed out that park and ride schemes at rail stations were always popular, which contrasted sharply with bus services, which even when free, such as a pilot service from Star City in Nechells to the city centre three years ago, was vastly underused.
But the transport scrutiny committee was reminded that there are £90 million planned rail improvements over the next five years including an expansion of the Cross City Line services to Bromsgrove and Redditch.
The Castle Vale and Sutton Park lines are part of the second phase of rail improvements scheduled for 2014 to 2019, if the investment is available.