Transport bodies outline six infrastructure priorities to support Midlands growth

Transport for East Midlands (TfEM) and Midlands Connect have come together in an attempt to address historic underfunding within the east midlands region and to support economic and housing growth.

The shared vision for improved transport infrastructure in the midlands puts forward six priorities which include improving and incorporating HS2 at the centre of any plans, a Midland Main Line (MML) fit for the 21st century, improving access to the East Midlands Airport and A road enhancements.

Central to the better transport links for its 11 million residents is the high-speed rail network HS2. But the two organisations says it will be working on a number of objectives in order to ensure the benefits are realised. 

Both TfEM and Midlands Connect want to bring the timeframe forwards and start services in 2030 - three years early. They identify that opening the hub station in the 2020s will stimulate the development of the planned innovation campus, with the potential for over 10,000 new jobs, and radically improve connectivity between the east midlands and Birmingham. 

HS2 services must also go hand in hand with investment in the MML according to the formed partnership. The government’s decision to cancel electrification between Kettering and Sheffield has been described as “concern” with TfEM reiterating its commitment to a fully electric MML. 

TfEM Chair Peter Soulsby said: “TfEM brings together the nine local transport authorities in the East Midlands, providing collective leadership on strategic transport issues for the region. TfEM works to identify the transport priorities that will improve the region’s economy and wellbeing of its people and to influence key delivery bodies. In doing so, TfEM is working with Midlands Connect to increase the level of national spending on transport in the East Midlands from a low level towards the average for England as a whole.”

Among the other highlighted priorities moving forward is improving access to East Midlands Airport which serves over 80 destinations and has plans to double passenger numbers to 10 million per year. Pressing ahead with work on the East Midlands Gateway Freight Interchange remains an important factor in a bid to reduce M1 congestion, while short-term plans include improvements to rail services at East Midlands Parkway Station and better bus links between the station and the airport.

Road improvements identified are focused on addressing some of the worst bottlenecks on the A5 growth corridor and major investments on the A46 growth corridor.

Chair of Midlands Connect and Midlands Engine John Peace, said: “Midlands Connect believes better transport links will allow the region to create more jobs, improve the quality of life of its 11 million residents and compete on the international stage. From the Welsh borders to the Lincolnshire coast, Midlands Connect’s aim is to speak with one voice, for the good of the region we all love. Because when the Midlands succeeds, the UK succeeds.”

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