SWM West Midlands Rail Investment Strategy 2019 Commentary

Date of the report

February 2019

Author of the report

Leo Morton, Volunteer Communications Officer, SWM

Purpose of the report

The West Midlands Rail Executive has recently published their West Midlands Rail Investment Strategy, setting out the 30-year goals for improvement to the rail network in the region. The purpose of this commentary is to analyse some of the key proposals and discuss their implications, both positive and negative, on sustainability for the West Midlands’ transport network.

Key Findings

  1. The West Midlands Rail Executive is committed to seeing investment in the region’s rail network, with passenger numbers on the rise.
  2. New train stations as well as more frequent services will increase capacity and ease of travel.
  3. HS2 is forecast to bring economic benefits to the region and boost capacity but not without consequences.
  4. Rail will form a backbone for an integrated transport network for the region.
  5. Rail improvements may be a key player in reducing carbon emissions and improving air quality.
  6. The implementation of the Investment Strategy could see large economic benefits across the West Midlands.
  7. Passenger comfort is set to be improved to make rail travel more attractive.
  8. Lack of mention of cycling in the strategy, leading to questions over the safeguarding of its future role.
  9. Inequality in economic benefits of the strategy dependant on location.

Implications on Regional Sustainability

In terms of how this strategy meets SWM priorities, a number of the proposals are highly welcomed. The commitment to large-scale improvements to low-carbon transport choices (in this instance rail) will hopefully encourage more individuals to choose the train as a mode of transport and see an increase in the number of users in the West Midlands, reducing congestion on the road network. This will also benefit areas with poor air quality where individuals choose rail over car travel. The integration of the public transport network should additionally encourage healthier travel options such as walking and cycling to and from train stations which is in line with SWM’s view on improving lifestyles. However, more clarification on the environmental impacts of rail investment, especially where construction of new lines and stations is concerned, would be beneficial to establish any negative effects of the scheme. Whilst economic growth is forecast from the investment, it’s important that this growth is geographically widespread and that the economic benefits see a real improvement to the region such as reducing unemployment rates. You can view SWM’s overall priorities here and statement on transport priorities here.

Links and contact information

Please contact SWM on 0121 237 5890 or at enquiries@swm.org.uk for more information.

Downloads

SWM Rail Investment Strategy 2019 Commentary