The Midlands Connect Partnership has been handed £5m from government to help develop a regional transport strategy for the Midlands Engine agenda.
Consisting of more than 40 public and private sector organisations, including councils, Midlands Connect estimates better transport links in the region could boost the economy by more than a billion a year.
The group also suggests its agenda to improve road, rail and freight links could create 300,000 jobs and save business some £500m.
The Midlands initiative is somewhat behind Transport for the North and the Northern Powerhouse plans, though has made fast progress recently.
The strategy will take 18 months to produce and will look into:
- measures that maximise economic growth from HS2
- reduced journey times and improved reliability between key centres
- addressing the interaction of national, regional and local movements within key strategic transport hubs in the Midlands
- a long-term solution to the congestion and unreliability of movements within and through the region
- regional and national interventions that connect the Midlands to international gateways
The news comes after the Government announced its Devolution Bill would help establish ‘sub-national transport authorities’, providing groups such as Midlands Connect statutory funding and delivery powers. Midlands Connect told Transport Network it is keen to consider such a role.
Sir Albert Bore: Midlands is 'constrained by poor transport'
Transport minister Robert Goodwill said: ‘We want to help regions across the country to make their voices heard on how their transport networks are run. We know that good transport doesn’t just help people get around, it helps them get on and these are key components of our long term economic plan to boost jobs and growth.
‘I congratulate the Midlands Connect Partnership on getting the Midlands Engine for growth in motion and starting work on this vital strategy. This is a fantastic opportunity and I look forward to us working together on it.’
Outgoing Birmingham City Council leader, Sir Albert Bore, added: 'The Midlands has real economic strengths in engineering, manufacturing, construction and research all of which are crucial to the success of UK plc.
'But the evidence demonstrates that our economy is also constrained by poor transport links, particularly for east-west movements.
'That's why today marks the start of an intensive 18-month process to develop a robust transport strategy identifying the big investments needed to unlock the region's full potential.'
The Department for Transport is now an associate member of Midlands Connect, which was formed in 2014.