England

West Midlands 20-year transport plan approved

Birmingham skyline Image copyright PA/David Jones
Image caption Better cycle routes are planned across the region, including in Birmingham (pictured)

Motorway upgrades, extending rail routes and running trams to Birmingham Airport are among schemes approved in a 20-year West Midlands transport plan.

It sets out the infrastructure needed to "best connect to HS2" and also includes a faster bus network, more cycle routes and new rail stations.

The West Midlands Integrated Transport Authority (ITA) adopted the Movement for Growth strategy on Thursday.

After a three-month consultation it said it had a "clear path" to follow.

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Extra cycle routes are set to be developed throughout the region.

New tram and train links between Walsall and Stourbridge and new suburban rail lines and stations for Castle Vale, Castle Bromwich and Moseley and Kings Heath also form part of the strategy.

'Clear path to follow'

Councillor Roger Lawrence, chairman of the ITA, said the region would "be speaking with one voice" in support of the plans.

"We have a clear path to follow, so now is the time to move forward and deliver these schemes."

The Treasury has pledged £1bn of government money to create the new authority, expected to be made up of councils in Birmingham, Coventry, Dudley, Sandwell, Solihull, Walsall and Wolverhampton.

It has also confirmed a 10-year, devolved £8bn transport budget, the ITA said.

The high-speed rail network, initially between London and Birmingham, was given the go-ahead by the government in 2012, despite strong opposition.


What it means for the region

Birmingham

Image caption The city's tram system will be extended through east Birmingham to the airport, connecting the region's two high-speed rail stations. A new network of faster buses with tram-style carriages - called "Sprint" - is also in the plan

Coventry

  • A new network of faster buses with tram-style carriages
  • Improvements to bottleneck road junctions

Dudley and Sandwell

Image caption Improvements to the M5/M6 junctions are planned and there will be an extension of the Midland Metro tram route between Brierley Hill, Dudley and Wednesbury, joining the existing line to Birmingham and Wolverhampton

Solihull

Image copyright Google maps
Image caption Junction six of the M42 will be improved; a Midland Metro tram extension through north Solihull to the airport/HS2 interchange is planned; and faster buses with tram-style carriages will run between Blythe Valley Business Park, Solihull town centre and the airport

Walsall

  • New heavy rail or tram and train links to Wolverhampton, with stations at Willenhall and James Bridge
  • A new network of faster buses with tram-style carriages

Wolverhampton

Image caption The plans will see the "Sprint" bus system link up to the i54 business park and a rail or tram connection to Walsall, the ITA said

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