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Transport Secretary receives progress report on plan to get Midlands economy firing

Chris Grayling visits Derby as work progresses on regional transport strategy to power the Midlands Engine.

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling met with Midlands Connect today, Thursday 21 July 2016, to discuss progress on a long-term transport strategy to help unlock economic growth in the region.

Research from the group of local authorities and business leaders has found that improving transport links to speed up journey times across the Midlands could:

  • significantly boost the economy
  • create thousands of new jobs
  • save businesses millions of pounds

The government has provided Midlands Connect with £5 million to develop a new strategy to improve transport in the region. It is now working with the Department for Transport (DfT) and transport operators on the plan which aims to set out credible long-term transport investment priorities to support transforming the Midlands into an engine for growth. Today’s interim report – Picking up the pace (PDF, 1.7MB) – outlines Midlands Connect’s initial work ahead of the full strategy which is due to be completed in March 2017.

Chris Grayling said:

Good transport helps people get around and get on and is crucial to driving economic growth. That is why the government is heavily investing in transport across the country, spreading opportunity and growth and bringing our country closer together. With its position at the heart of the UK, the Midlands is vital to the country’s success and I want the region to speak to government with one voice on its future transport priorities. Midlands Connect is making great progress, building evidence of the region’s transport needs and bringing real momentum to making the Midlands an engine for growth. I look forward to working closely with Midlands Connect and seeing the proposals in the final strategy.

Picking up the Pace has 3 themes, to get growth planned, started and delivered. The report was launched at Derby City Council by Sir John Peace, chair of the Midlands Engine and Midlands Connect.

The report comes following significant government investment in the region. In the East Midlands, the government has invested £150 million to widen the A453 and £200 million to upgrade the M1. On the railways, electrification of the Midland Mainline is pressing ahead. In Nottingham, £370 million has been invested extending the tram network. In Birmingham £75 million has been invested extending the Metro from Snow Hill through the city centre and £750 million to transform Birmingham New Street.

There are now 40,000 more businesses in the Midlands than there were in 2010 and more people in work in the region than at any time since 1992. In more good news for the region, Rolls Royce recently won a new order worth nearly £700 million to build engines in Derby for Virgin Atlantic’s jets.

The final Midlands Connect strategy will develop and examine options for measures that:

  • maximise economic growth from HS2
  • reduce journey times and improve reliability between centres
  • improve national, regional and local journeys through the Midlands
  • improve connections to international gateways

Operating as the transport component powering the Midlands Engine, the Midlands Connect partnership involves 11 Local Enterprise Partnerships, Network Rail, Highways England, HS2 Ltd, 28 local authorities and the business community. The DfT is an associate member.

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