In 3 previous posts I have discussed my vision for a CrossCity rail network for Greater Birmingham/West Midlands. The first two lines would be the existing Lichfield to Redditch/Bromsgrove north-south line, the second would be a Wolverhampton to Birmingham HS2 Interchange west-east line. Both would dive underground on the approach to central Birmingham and stop at new underground stations at New Street and Curzon Street. Additionally, links could be incorporated heading to Walsall/Rugeley, Tamworth and the Camp Hill line via Moseley and Kings Heath.
My particular interest in what this could achieve for the West Midlands city region and beyond. The city edge hub stations (Duddeston, Adderley Park, Five Ways and Ladywood/NIA) would provide major connectivity and development opportunities. A key focus would be on these stations driving forward not just development but actually wider improvements – more housing, new ideas such as a parcel delivery/collection hub for busy commuters, new high street/town centre opportunities, potential new growth hub space for small/new businesses to provide a launchpad for local businesses and so on…
All of the stations should be focal points for planning authorities to use to drive development and to focus on innovating with what should be expected of developers. So a strong emphasis on using the CrossCity network to shift people onto public transport as the norm. Reduced car parking spaces, car share, car hire, bike hire being incorporated into developments along with decent cycle parking and other related facilities.
The initial 2 CrossCity lines would be the focal point for the wider transport network. So there would be an assumption that all bus routes along with the developing Midland Metro and Sprint networks would feed into the CrossCity lines which would be the mobility spine for the wider transport network.
A crucial point is the need for us in the West Midlands to up our game and to up the standard. In London public transport is the norm over the car because the level of investment has created a public transport network that is far more convenient to use than driving due to frequency and coverage. This is what we need to see in the West Midlands. So a focus must be on trains every 10 minutes at least, with large doors for speed of getting on and off the trains, plenty of room for standing for short hop journeys, much improved passenger information systems (so audio and visual station announcements etc). To get into and out of the stations that connectivity is crucial – so easy-to-use interchanges onto buses and the Metro and Sprint.
This transport improvement would then catalyse development outside of the centre – in a manner similar to London, we would be incentivising developments across the conurbation, focussing on the fantastic connectivity that such a network provides. Think of some key interchanges in London that have spurred major improvements – Canary Wharf, Stratford and so on…
This is crucial. Getting this high quality spine of transport connectivity will enable and encourage a better spread and share of investment. Greater Birmingham will better succeed by encouraging inward investment across the wider conurbation rather than an imbalance between the City Centre and the rest of the place.