London Assembly passes Crossrail 2 motion

The London Assembly has agreed a unanimous motion asking for the Secretary of State for Transport to approve TfL’s Strategic Outline Business Case for Crossrail 2.

The full text of the Motion is:

“This Assembly notes that on 6th March 2017 Transport for London submitted its Strategic Outline Business Case for Crossrail 2 to the Department for Transport.    This Assembly notes the project has the backing of the independent National Infrastructure Commission, 83% of London businesses and councils across the South East.  This Assembly further notes that investing in infrastructure is one of the 10 pillars of the Government’s Modern Industrial Strategy.

This Assembly notes the importance of ensuring the project is approved quickly.  TfL modelling shows that the Capital’s transport network will grind to a halt without the project.   Furthermore, this Assembly notes that without Crossrail 2, at least 17 Underground stations will buckle under crowding pressures and thousands of passengers arriving at Euston on HS2 Phase 2 could lose times saved on their journeys queuing to board onward Tube trains.

This Assembly further notes that Crossrail 2 has widespread regional benefits.   Some 40% of the transport benefits and 30% of the new housing will be delivered outside London.   This Assembly welcomes the work that has been done which shows that London can pay for 50% of the costs of the project.

This Assembly notes that no other infrastructure project tackles so many local and regional problems while boosting overall capacity on such a scale.  Crossrail 2 would increase London’s rail capacity by 10 per cent and support 200,000 additional new homes and 200,000 new jobs.  This Assembly believes Crossrail 2 would contribute to bringing forward the new homes this city needs.

This Assembly highlights the cross-party support for the project across the South East and believes the approval of Crossrail 2 will be a strong statement of confidence in London’s economy as we negotiate a new relationship with the European Union.   This Assembly therefore asks the Secretary of State for Transport to approve TfL’s Strategic Outline Business Case for Crossrail 2 without delay.”

WMCA seeks DfT approval for HS2 tram extension

Plans to extend the Midland Metro through Birmingham city centre have reached a new milestone.

The Midland Metro Alliance has formally applied on behalf of the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) for a Transport and Works Act Order to build and operate the Birmingham Eastside extension from Bull Street to Digbeth.

Once granted, the order would allow work to start on the 1.05 mile (1.7km) extension which will serve the proposed HS2 station at Curzon Street, offering connections to New Street, Moor Street and Snow Hill train stations.

Subject to any local public inquiry, work is scheduled to begin in 2019 and the line to open in 2023.

The scheme will cost £137.2 million and as well as linking all of the city centre railway stations will mean easy access to Birmingham Coach Station and to bus routes to the south east of the city centre.

Cllr Roger Lawrence, lead member for transport on WMCA, said: “The Birmingham Eastside extension will provide a direct high-quality link between the significant areas of commercial and leisure activity to the east of the city centre and the Jewellery Quarter and the Black Country.

“It will not only improve access for existing business travellers and commuters but also provide easier access to jobs for the unemployed, further encourage tourism and leisure travel.

“This will help spread economic benefits from HS2 and local developments, which will increase economic opportunities across the West Midlands.”

The route will start at the junction of Bull Street and Corporation Street and run along Lower Bull Street past the southern edge of the proposed Martineau Galleries re-development to Albert Street.

It will then cross Moor Street Queensway towards Curzon Street and continue along New Canal Street before running into Meriden Street and turning left onto Digbeth High Street.

There will be four stops on the route. A stop in Albert Street will serve the proposed Martineau Galleries Phase 2 development and the HS2 Curzon Street Station West Entrance.

A stop on New Canal Street is proposed underneath the HS2 Curzon Street station serving Eastside and the HS2 East Entrance.

The third, on Meriden Street, will serve the heart of Digbeth and the proposed development at Typhoo Wharf.

The terminus stop will be on Digbeth High Street at the junction with Milk Street, serving Birmingham Coach Station, South and City College and the Custard Factory.

Seven new Urbos trams will be bought to bolster the current fleet of 21 and provide a service running every six minutes.

The work will be carried out by the Midland Metro Alliance, a team of planning, design and construction specialists working with WMCA

It consists of rail construction specialists Colas Rail – with Colas’ partners Colas Ltd, Barhale, Thomas Vale and Auctus Management Group – and a consortium of design experts from Egis, Tony Gee and Pell Frischmann, alongside WMCA specialists.

Midland Metro Alliance director Alejandro Moreno said: “The development of this route will play a key part in helping to unlock the potential of the Eastside of Birmingham and will be an important part of the regeneration in this area.”

The Midland Metro runs between Birmingham’s New Street Station and Wolverhampton City Centre, serving locations such as the Jewellery Quarter, West Bromwich, Wednesbury and Bilston.

Work is now underway extending the route from New Street Station to Centenary Square, with services expected to start running in 2019.

Funding has also been earmarked for the line to go further along Broad Street, past Five Ways and on to Edgbaston by 2021.

In Wolverhampton work has begun on the city centre extension, with completion scheduled for 2019.

The route will take trams along Pipers Row, stopping directly outside the bus station before continuing on to the railway station which will also be redeveloped as part of the Wolverhampton Interchange Project.

A route linking Wednesbury to Brierley Hill is also being developed and work on this could start as early as next year.

Wedgwood and Barlaston could close permanently

The Department for Transport is to ask bidders of the London Midland franchise for proposals to reopen Wedgwood and Barlaston railway stations (they are currentlybserved by rail replacement bus services). These proposals will be considered but if they are not deemed viable, the Department for Transport intends to initiate closure proceedings that will close the railway stations for good.

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Abbey Line conversion proposals dropped

Hertfordshire County Council have dropped proposals to convert the railway line between Watford Junction and St Albans Abbey to light rail or a bus way in the latest rail strategy for the county. The proposal for light rail was investigated but the difficulties that would be encountered to separate the route from the national rail network caused the Department for Transport to withdraw it’s support. It also received a negative reaction from stakeholders in a consultation for the draft rail vision held last Summer.

The revised rail strategy features support for proposals including a new railway station to the south of Stevenage and a link between the West Coast Mainline and Crossrail.


Rail-related tourism fund supports expansion

A rail-related tourism fund has supported a number of schemes which will expand the rail network. Seventeen schemes were funded with three supporting the restoration of services using three very different transport modes.

Chinnor and Princes Risborough Rail Association (C&PRRA): heritage rail interchange with main line services at Princes Risborough – £75,000. The project will extend the heritage rail line from Chinnor to its former terminus at Princes Risborough station and see the reinstatement of a platform and loop line at Princes Risborough for interchange with services from London and other main line destinations.

WMG, University of Warwick: a very light rail shuttle between Dudley’s tourist attractions – £75,000. The project is to undertake a feasibility study for a new very light rail service linking Dudley Zoo and the Black Country Living Museum.

Rheilffordd Cwm Gwendraeth/Gwendraeth Valley Rail: valley community rail corridor and velorail development £75,000. A unique ‘velorail’ rail bike visitor attraction will be developed on a disused Network Rail branch and rail-side land starting in Kidwelly, Carmarthenshire.