Well it is always pleasing to get positive feedback and so quickly after putting this concept out into the public space. And it is really cool to get suggestions and offers of help!
I wanted to develop the idea further (and for those asking, there will be maps coming soon!!).
I want to split the idea into 4 sections: the City Centre core, the City Edge hubs, the mobility spine, the wider regional impact.
(1) City Centre Core
This is a key part, central to the success of the network, where all trains will run through linking New Street station (at low level) with Curzon Street station (at the Eastern end where the original station building, Millennium Point and Midland Metro will be). This underground section will be connected by portals facing North, South, East and West which will serve the initial 2 CrossCity Lines – North/South for Lichfield/Sutton Coldfield to Bromsgrove/Redditch) and West/East for Wolverhampton to Birmingham Interchange.
(2) City Edge Hubs
The first stations outside of the core could provide major strategic opportunities for supporting major improvements and developments in terms of housing, local economic benefits, housing and vastly improved connectivity and accessibility.
To the North is Duddeston, with 2 spare platforms that could come into use, plenty of spare land where the old Vauxhall works used to be and also potential for major over-station development. The Nechells area is so close to the City Centre but almost another world away – this could be the catalyst for bringing huge benefits and opportunities to this part of Birmingham. From Duddeston, the local bus network and a sprint route could create a fantastic transport hub that would support significant tranit oriented development.
To the East is Adderley Park. This station will be served by a Midland Metro extension from Curzon Street and is ripe to become a major urban hub reaching out into East Birmingham from Eastside. Removing the existing platforms and building 2 new ‘outer’ platforms would create track capacity and more space for the approach to New Street for regionals and intercity services. Additionally the area around Adderley Park has long been lined up for significant regeneration investment – could transport be the spur that could finally deliver this?
To the South is Five Ways. This station already serves a significant constituency covering Broad Street, Brindleyplace and Edgbaston. This is another station that if significantly upgraded to play a much greater role in the wider area. If ever a station felt guilty about being there it is Five Ways, instead it should stand loud and proud as a major benefit for this part of the Western edge of Birmingham City Centre. It could also provide a major transport hub reaching into Ladywood and connected into a Midland Metro extension up Broad Street and the Hagley Road Sprint (bus rapid transit) that is scheduled to arrive in 2016.
To the West, at present Smethwick Rolfe Street is the first stop, but could there be a Ladywood stop for the National Indoor Arena? Close to the ring road and again serving a major area of development – not too far from the Icknield Port Loop site – and providing a strategic transport interchange at the edge of the city centre?
(3) A Mobility Spine for the West Midlands
Central to this concept is the idea that the 2 initial CrossCity lines will act as the spine from which all other mobility opportunities spread. The stations will be served by high frequency services, there would be consistent branding and information for passengers as well as a much greater use of technology and the opportunities to innovate. This CrossCity mobility spine would connect regional and intercity services into the West Midlands transport network as well as High Speed Rail when it arrives in 2026. Additionally Midland Metro and Sprint developments will be focused on connecting in and reaching out even more widely to ensure as many West Midlanders are served by high quality public transport via one of these modes and/or by loal bus – as well as good walking, cycling, bike and car sharing provision.
(4) The regional impact
Connecting into the regional and national network is key. This will provide much wider and improved connectivity into both HS2 stations. But additionally it will provide additional capacity through New Street for better regional services to the important Midlands towns and cities such as Leicester, Derby, Nottingham, Northampton, Rugby, Worcester, Hereford, Shrewsbury, Telford, Tamworth, Rugeley and Stafford.
The OneNorth proposals that were published yesterday took a massive inter-regional approach. In the West Midlands we need to pull our region more closely together and focus on how we get about and deploy our resources to derive maximum benefit from all the great stuff we have here as well as unlocking the vast potential to make it even better!