Midlands Connect has submitted plans to the Government for a scheme that it says will give more than two million people access to new direct rail services to Birmingham International and Coventry stations.
The ‘Birmingham Airport Connectivity’ rail improvement scheme is estimated to cost between £125m and £180m and construction could begin in 2024.
Signs at Coventry station welcome people to the city as they leave
If funded, the scheme will open up new, hourly direct connections to Birmingham International and Coventry railway stations for people living in and around Derby, Sheffield, Doncaster, York, Darlington, Durham and Newcastle.
Midlands Connect has submitted an Outline Business Case for the project to the Department for Transport, produced in partnership with Network Rail, with an immediate request for £20m in government funding to develop detailed designs, planning and final costings.
Midlands Connect said the project will also double the number of services to the two stations from Leamington Spa, Banbury, Oxford and Reading from one to two trains per hour, and introduce new direct services between Birmingham Moor Street, Solihull, Warwick Parkway and Oxford.
Chairman Sir John Peace said: ‘As we work to recover from the economic impacts of COVID-19; embarking on an ambitious and successful path post-Brexit, our international connections and relationships with other UK regions will become more important than ever.
‘Providing a step change in rail connectivity to the city of Coventry and Birmingham International railway station, our proposals will enhance access to Birmingham Airport, the West Midlands’ gateway to the world, as well as the nearby NEC, Resorts World and Jaguar Land Rover.'
Midlands Connect said the enhancements would be made possible by double tracking sections of the railway between Leamington, Kenilworth and Coventry, as well as utilising the additional network capacity created by HS2.
Once double tracking is completed, an additional service each hour to Birmingham International and Coventry from Oxford, Banbury and Leamington could be introduced straight away.
After Phase One of HS2 is completed, the additional capacity created on the network will allow the introduction of direct services to Birmingham Airport and Coventry to and from Derby, Sheffield, Doncaster, York, Darlington, Durham and Newcastle, Midlands Connect said.
The scheme is one of seven that make up the £3.5bn Midlands Engine Rail programme.