Posted 15th July 2020 | 7 Comments

New scheme for Midlands to improve rail links to Birmingham Airport

MIDLANDS CONNECT is asking the government for £20 million, so that it can move ahead with plans to improve railway links to the stations at Coventry and Birmingham International.

The whole scheme has been estimated to cost between £125 million and £180 million, and would provide direct trains to the two key stations for 2.2 million more people, including passengers from Derby, Sheffield, York and Newcastle.

Services would be improved in and around the West Midlands as well, with services from Leamington Spa, Banbury, Oxford and Reading doubled to twice hourly, while congestion on board commuter services along the busy corridor between Birmingham New Street and Coventry would also be reduced. There would be a new direct service from Birmingham Moor Street to Oxford via Solihull and Warwick Parkway.

Infrastructure improvements would include the doubling of the mainly single-track line between Leamington Spa and Coventry, which presently has only one crossing place, around a kilometre in length, at Kenilworth.

Midlands Connect has revealed in a newly-published report that it submitted an Outline Business Case to the Department for Transport for the Birmingham Airport Connectivity rail scheme last month, the business case having been produced in partnership with Network Rail.

Work on the improvements could start as early as 2024.

The project is one of seven that make up the £3.5 billion Midlands Engine Rail programme, which would also take advantage in the longer term of capacity released by HS2 and envisages more than 700 more passenger trains running daily.

Midlands Connect chairman Sir John Peace said: ‘As we work to recover from the economic impacts of Covid-19, embarking on an ambitious and successful path post Brexit, our international connections and relationships with other UK regions will become more important than ever. Providing a step change in rail connectivity to the city of Coventry and Birmingham International railway station, our proposals will enhance access to Birmingham Airport, the West Midlands’ gateway to the world, as well as the nearby NEC, Resorts World and Jaguar Land Rover.

‘Integrating these upgrades into the existing network, with the arrival of HS2 at the adjacent Interchange station, will generate unparalleled investment and growth, creating jobs, thousands of new homes and more places to work, live and relax. Our proposals will benefit workers, residents and travellers, bringing two million more people to within a direct rail journey of these exciting destinations.’

Reader Comments:

Views expressed in submitted comments are that of the author, and not necessarily shared by Railnews.

  • Colin Redman, Rugby, Warwickshire

    Moving container traffic for Hams Hall, Lawley St or Birch Coppice via Berkeswell puts it on route with no direct connection to the line to those freight locations. Only benefit would be for the Soton-Trafford Park intermodal, so it's pointless.

    The real key, is to quadruple Coventry-Birmingham International as a start.

    As for the doubling plan, this costs would include construction of the second platform at Kenilworth (despite the 13.8m cost they could only afford the one), as well as changes to the junction and signalling at Milverton, Leamington where there can be pathing conflicts.

  • David Wildgoose, Coventry

    We really need to see some detail here. All the mainstream media have swallowed the PR release without any critical examination. Are they really saying that Cov to Leam redoubling is going to cost up to £180M? It's a great idea but there aren't going to be extra paths for XC trains through Cov to Brum until capacity is released by completion of HS2. Incidentally, until Virgin's Operation Princess timetable it was possible to catch a direct train from Cov to the NE.

  • Andrew Gwilt, Benfleet Essex

    I think it’s a brilliant idea. It would connect both West Midlands and East Midlands and other areas.

  • Graham Nalty, Derby

    Yes it is a very good idea to bring back the Leicester to Coventry direct link via Nuneaton, but it important that the option to call at Nuneaton in included in the plans.

  • Chris Packham, Birmingham

    Typical PR guff from 'Midlands Connect/Engine', as usual quoted verbatim and uncritically by Railnews. Strip out the hype and I think they're saying the Leamington-Coventry line should be redoubled, then more trains could use it. Yes, it should be redoubled. But it shouldn't cost anywhere near '125-180m', so what else is imagined for that budget? I'm not sure what's so exciting about a 'new direct service from Moor St to Oxford'. And if anyone in Newcastle or Sheffield really needs to get to Birmingham International or Coventry they can already do so on CrossCountry. Re David Smith's comments, container trains from Southampton through Coventry are mostly going to Nuneaton to join the WCML, another reason for full doubling of the Leamington-Coventry route.

    [I think we interpret your g..., er, comments to mean that you do not approve of Midlands Connect's plans? You have every right to disagree, but we do not have the right to insert our opinions in an objective news story. Had any criticism been voiced by a third party, we would have included it. Compare our balanced approach, if you will, with certain 'news' sources that just reprint press releases. It's easy to do, but it's not journalism. For editorial comment from Railnews, see the leader and Hot Topic in each print edition and the Monday essays on this site.--Ed.]

  • david c smith, Bletchley

    Might the congestion problem west of Coventry be eased by reusing the former direct Berkswell - Kenilworth section to take the Southampton container traffic away from the Coventry area?

  • Richard Johnson, Coventry

    At one time you could go direct to Leicester until the junctions were taken out at Nuneaton. Bging that connection back as it is needed