It occurred to me following my post yesterday on the Metro network concept for the West Midlands that, perhaps, pragmatism had beaten ambition. With HS2 arriving in the West Midlands and a major plan (Stonebridge railway/Whitacre link) for the Interchange station, perhaps we are missing a trick over a major strategy for connecting up central Birmingham and opening up New Street for the long term…
Furthermore, we do not baulk at London getting a SECOND £17 billion approx Crossrail scheme to satisfy demand in addition to all of the other infrastructure investment that sees it grow from strength to strength at the expense of the rest of the country…
So, why should the West Midlands not develop a cross rail-type scheme? In fact, it doesn’t need to be a whole new line but a scheme that opens up the West Midlands network and will allow for the CrossCity metro lines and a standalone commuter network that can be presented to passengers as a true London Overground/Crossrail (or more comparably a Parisian-style RER) network.
So, what could be done? Well, we could actually focus on 1 part – the bottleneck at New Street – and then create the one station solution at the same time.
A 4 platform underground station underneath New Street – at one end passengers access New Street station, at the the other end passengers access Moor Street/HS2.
The connections into this station could be partially delivered with HS2 – primarily the link from CrossCity North just south of Duddeston. Other connections would be required from Five Ways for CrossCity South, around Ladywood for the link towards Wolverhampton and in the Birminghams Wheels vicinity to head east to the Airport, Interchange and Coventry.
We would then have a true Grand Central station connecting up the 3 central stations (New St, Moor St, HS2) and capacity for the CrossCity network services as well as additional capacity at New Street to allow for regional and long distance services.
Why shouldn’t the West Midlands lobby for this? If London can press on with Crossrail then perhaps the West Midlands should step up to that kind of ambition – are we the barrier to our own development?