The emerging West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) will drive forward more than £4 billion of transport infrastructure over the coming decade, including more tram extensions, new suburban rail lines, cycle routes and better motorways.
Working through its new transport arm, Transport for West Midlands (TfWM), the authority will prioritise the building of those schemes that can best underpin and support its wider goals for economic growth, housing and skills.
The infrastructure schemes will also make sure the region has the right transport links in place to connect and feed into the HS2 high speed rail line when it opens in 2026. This will help the West Midlands secure the maximum economic benefits possible from the line.
Cllr Roger Lawrence, leader of the City of Wolverhampton Council and West Midlands lead for transport, said:
“We believe the new combined authority working through Transport for West Midlands will bring a step change in the way transport infrastructure is funded and delivered.
“The devolution deal we have struck with government means we now have far greater freedom to decide for ourselves and deliver those transport schemes that give us the biggest bang for our buck in terms of supporting economic growth and passenger benefits.
“Having the wider West Midland authorities and the Local Enterprise Partnerships coming together in this way enables the region to speak with one voice and that makes our case to Government far more powerful and effective.”
Cllr Lawrence said a key priority for TfWM during the next 12 months would be to draw up a timetable setting out which schemes will be delivered over the decade leading up to HS2.
The timetable will set out the building programme for much of the infrastructure contained in the region’s 25-year strategic transport plan Movement for Growth which was launched by the outgoing West Midlands Integrated Transport Authority last November and will be adopted by TfWM.
Schemes include more Metro extensions in Birmingham, Solihull and the Black Country, new rail infrastructure to bring local services to suburbs like Kings Heath, Moseley and Castle Bromwich, improvements to key motorway and road junctions and a comprehensive cycle network.
Work will concentrate on putting in place a fully integrated transport system of bus, rail, tram and road underpinned by smart technology. This will include real time information and paperless ticket travel using smartphone technology and contactless bank cards in addition to the existing Swift smartcard.
TfWM will also work closely with government over the coming months on ways to get better use of the M6 toll road by integrating it more closely with the wider strategic highway network.
A further priority will be to work with the freight industry and the Midlands Connect partnership to put in place the transport connections needed to get West Midland products to domestic and overseas markets quickly and easily.
Cllr Lawrence added:
“Developing an efficient and fully integrated transport network is fundamental in achieving the combined authority’s ambition to deliver an overall investment package that can unlock £8 billion and create up to half a million jobs over the next 30 years.”
Schemes to be delivered over the next decade include:
Dudley and Sandwell