The case for Birmingham Crossrail, revisited

The crowded approach to Birmingham New Street station. Image: Getty.

This is an edited version of a post that appeared on the author’s website, which was, in part, in response to an earlier CityMetric article.

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.

Click to expand.

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.

 

Click to expand.

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.

 
 
 
 

Community-powered policies should be at the top of Westminster’s to do list

A generic election picture. Image: Getty.

Over the past five decades, political and economic power has become increasingly concentrated in the UK’s capital. Communities feel ignored or alienated by a politics that feels distant and unrepresentative of their daily experiences.

Since the EU referendum result it has become something of a cliché to talk about how to respond to the sense of powerlessness felt by too many people. The foundations of our economy have been shifted by Brexit, technology and deindustrialisation – and these have shone a light on a growing divergence in views and values across geographies and generations. They are both a symptom and cause of the breakdown of the ties that traditionally brought people together.

As the country goes through seismic changes in its outlook, politics and economy, it is clear that a new way of doing politics is needed. Empowering people to take control over the things that affect their daily lives cannot be done from the top down.

Last week, the Co-operative Party launched our policy platform for the General Election – the ideas and priorities we hope to see at the top of the next Parliament’s to do list. We have been the voice for co-operative values and principles in the places where decisions are made and laws are made. As co-operators, we believe that the principles that lie behind successful co‑operatives – democratic control by customers and workers, and a fair share of the wealth we create together – ought to extend to the wider economy and our society. As Labour’s sister party, we campaign for a government that puts these shared values into practice.

Our policy platform has community power at its heart, because the co-operative movement, founded on shop floors and factory production lines, knows that power should flow from the bottom up. Today, this principle holds strong – decisions are best made by the people impacted the most by them, and services work best when the service users have a voice. Our policy platform is clear: this means shifting power from Whitehall to local government, but it also means looking beyond the town hall. Co-operative approaches are about placing power directly in the hands of people and communities.


There are many great examples of Co-operative councillors and local communities taking the lead on this. Co-operative councils like Oldham and Plymouth have pioneered new working relationships with residents, underpinned by a genuine commitment to working with communities rather than merely doing things to them.

Building a fairer future is, by definition, a bottom-up endeavour. Oldham, Plymouth and examples like the Elephant Project in Greater Manchester, where people with experience of disadvantage are involved in decision-making, or buses in Witney run by Co-operative councillors and the local community – are the building blocks of creating a better politics and a fairer economy.

This thread runs through our work over the last few years on community wealth building too – keeping wealth circulating in local economies through growing the local co-operative sector. Worker-owned businesses thriving at the expense of global corporate giants and private outsourcers. Assets owned by communities – from pubs to post offices to rooftop solar panels.

And it runs through our work in Westminster too – with Co-operative MPs and peers calling for parents, not private business, to own and run nurseries; for the stewards of our countryside to be farmers rather than big landowners; and for workers to have a stake in their workplaces and a share of the profit.

Far from being ignored, as suggested in last week’s article on community power, our work has never been more relevant and our co-operative voice is louder than ever.

Anna Birley is policy offer at the Co-operative party.