I have written about a proposed Birmingham Crossrail before, but it is time to revisit for two reasons:
1. HS2 is now moving into delivery phase, and local and regional connectivity is vitally important;
2. The northern cities are making the case for major investment, and we need to see the same in the West Midlands.
So here we go, some basic drawing on a map screenshots…
Firstly, the city centre core – new underground tunnels connecting from all four points of the compass:
- From the north, after Duddeston heading into the city, diving underground and into a new low level station at Curzon Street for the HS2 station and Midland Metro interchange;
- From the East, after Adderley Park heading into the city, diving underground and connecting with the northern spur into Curzon Street;
- From the South, after University heading into the city, diving underground into a new low level station at Five Ways for the Midland Metro and providing better access either side of the ring road towards both Edgbaston and Broad Street/Brindleyplace;
- Ffrom the West, a new low level station at Ladywood serving that inner city quarter and Arena Birmingham.
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The southern and western spurs connect and head into a new low level station at New Street. A new underground tunnel then connects New Street and Curzon Street, creating the Central Birmingham Rail Hub.
Now, from a wider strategic planning perspective:
- The Western spur could also stay in tunnel beyond Ladywood to serve new stations at Icknield Port Loop and Cape Hill – areas of significant interest for regeneration and in need of improved connectivity and catalyst to boost economic activity and investment.
- The other three city fringe stations – Duddeston, Adderley Park and Five Ways – could also act as the catalysts for significant investment into those quarters to boost them given their good locations and potential to provide good quality housing that is well-served by public transport.
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From a rail network perspective, this opens up three Crossrail- or RER-type lines:
- The current Cross City from Lichfield to Bromsgrove/Redditch, running north/south
- A new Cross City from Wolverhampton to Birmingham Interchange for HS2, running west/east, with a new spur from Birmingham International round to the HS2 Interchange station and serving the UK Central development;
- A Rugeley (fast) into Birmingham and then back round to Walsall (slow) loop service and vice versa.
This project would have six strategic objectives:
- Creating significant additional train capacity through central Birmingham;
- Unlocking major sites for development with much improved connectivity;
- Simplified route network with standardised service patterns;
- Much improved connectivity into HS2;
- Improving the central Birmingham rail hub concept;
- An opportunity to grow the city centre out to the city fringe stations.
Alex Burrows is a Birmingham-based transport specialist.
Read Jonn Elledge on the case for Birmingham Crossrail here.