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Birmingham unveils its £4bn transport plan

Words: Laura Edgar
Train lines through Birmingham

Transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin launched Birmingham Connected in the city today, a vision that places buses, trams and people’s safety at its core.

Previously known as the Birmingham Mobility Action Plan, Birmingham Connected aims to make the city a safer place to commute around and live in by reducing the levels of congestion and pollution, and promoting sustainable forms of transport. It is hoped that communities will be better linked and daily commutes transformed, thereby stimulating economic growth.

Initiatives included in Birmingham Connected:

·   A £1.2 billion public transport network to be completed within 20 years, promoting safety and travel that is faster than going by car. This will include three more Metro lines and up to nine cross-city rapid bus routes.

·  Developing a strategy for the long-term role of the A38 through the city, consultation on which will begin next year.

·  The introduction of Green Travel Districts. People will be put before cars, encouraging residents to walk, cycle or use public transport in a safe environment. The GTD's aim to reduce congestion and improve public health and safety.

·  Improving rail links within the regions, including routes to Sutton Coldfield and Tamworth, as well as supporting new jobs and housing.

·  A £400 million upgrade to Snow Hill Station to begin after New Street full re-opens next year.

·  An investment in a local connectivity strategy for HS2.

·  The introduction of Low Emission Zones.

Sir Albert Bore, council leader, said: “Birmingham Connected sets a new direction for transport, not just for tomorrow but for the next 20 years.  It ushers in a new era in the way we think about moving people and goods from, into, around and through the city and region, delivering projects and infrastructure, and the ways in which we fund them.

“Following public consultation on the Birmingham Mobility Action Plan green paper last year, the Birmingham Connected white paper now sets out our vision for a world-class transport system fitting of a world-class city.”

Tahir Ali, cabinet member for development, transport and the economy, explained that the city council scheme puts the user first and will deliver the connectivity that local people and businesses require. He added: “We also want to use the transport system as a way of reducing inequalities across the city, providing better access to jobs, training, healthcare and education as well as removing barriers to mobility.”

In his speech at the launch, McLoughlin said he was delighted to be launching Birmingham Connected. “It doesn’t attempt to sidestep the challenges that Birmingham still faces – congested roads, rising population, increasing employment and the effect that has in demand for travel and the impact of transport on the environment. Quite rightly, it concludes that we have to change the way we think about urban journeys. Yes, it’s ambitious. But it’s only by being ambitious that Birmingham will get the transport system it needs to thrive in the 21st century."