Rail services across Birmingham and the West Midlands are set for a revolution - with journey times slashed and train frequency increasing.
Commuters travelling between the city and other Midlands town and cities like Nottingham, Leicester, Hereford and Worcester will also get extra faster services.
Meanwhile, regional transport chiefs have promised to increase the use of freight rail, taking 4,320 lorries off the roads, reducing pollution and congestion.
The 20-year Midlands Rail Hub strategy, called Our Route to Growth, has been drawn up by regional transport agency Midlands Connect in collaboration with Network Rail, train operating companies and Transport for West Midlands.
It says improving rail connections could be worth £649 million a year to the regional economy by 2037.
For passengers, the Midlands Rail Hub will DOUBLE the number of trains per hour between Birmingham and Nottingham, Birmingham and Leicester, and Birmingham and Hereford, and increase hourly services between Birmingham and Derby from four to six.
The following journey times will also be reduced:
- Nottingham and Birmingham - 50 minutes (currently 69 minutes)
- Hereford and Birmingham - 60 minutes (currently 84 minutes)
- Leicester and Coventry - 35 minutes direct service (currently 48 minutes with a change at Nuneaton)
The report also restates the commitment to re-open the Camp Hill Line to passenger services, including the stations at Hazewell, Kings Heath and Moseley.
It also argues for the full reinstatement of the Camp Hill Chords link to achieve that plan.
Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said: “These proposals capture the extraordinary economic potential and ambition of the Midlands Engine – focused on driving forward growth, creating new jobs and delivering better journeys for passengers across the region.
"This is why the Government has invested £5m to help develop the Midlands Rail Hub .
“It is excellent to see Midlands Connect are committed to maximising the significant benefits to connectivity and capacity HS2 offers, as well as ensuring we capitalise on the biggest modernisation of the rail network since the Victorian era.
"The Government will continue to work with Midlands Connect to develop these proposals to help ensure the region has the transport system it needs for a prosperous future.”
Transport agency Midlands Connect was set up with a key aim of improving the poor public transport links between the East and West Midlands.
Sir John Peace, Chairman of Midlands Connect and Midlands Engine, said: “Improving East-West connectivity and access to HS2 services are top priorities for Midlands Connect. The Midlands Rail Hub proposals can bring our great towns and cities closer together and accelerate the massive job creation we’re seeing all over the region.
“The potential to greatly increase the amount of rail freight running through the region is also a big opportunity to make the most of the released capacity from HS2 and reduce the amount of freight on our already congested roads.
“The initiatives outlined in Our Routes to Growth are based on thorough research and detailed studies to identify which projects will give the greatest returns to rail passengers, road users and most importantly, the regional and national economies. Britain needs a transport infrastructure that delivers more jobs, a better quality of life and attracts greater international investment.”
Some of the physical interventions required to make the Midlands Rail Hub a reality could be completed in 2026, such as longer and restored platforms, improved junctions and signalling and some minor electrification. This would allow some of the new services to run in time for the opening of HS2 Phase One.
West Midlands Mayor Andy Street is aiming to get the Camp Hill line quickly reinstated with a limited service on existing track. But the report also backs a full reinstatement of the Camp Hill Chords links into Moor Street by 2033.
It says that major building work, including the construction of chords at Camp Hill, will require land acquisition and planning permission, as well as significant design and construction.
It could also mean some services are diverted from Birmingham New Street to Birmingham Moor Street, improving connectivity with HS2’s new Curzon Street station and supporting a “One station” approach for New Street, Moor Street, Snow Hill and Curzon Street.
Matthew Hammond, Midlands chairman for PwC and chairman of West Midlands Growth Company, said: “For businesses the Midlands represents strong growth prospects and a location where they can reap the benefits of a well-connected transportation network.
"Further regional growth will be realised from the catalytic effect of HS2 services in just eight years. However, with continued success there is greater pressure on our existing infrastructure.
"The Midlands’ position at the heart of the UK road and rail networks presents a fantastic opportunity to target investment that can benefit the whole country, and Midlands Connect’s Our Routes To Growth report provides the region with an exciting blueprint to progress this ambition.”
The publication of the rail strategy follows the release of the Midlands Connect road strategy last month .