New line Land Rover's announcement of a completely new two-mile branch line into its Solihull works took everyone by surprise. The £40million scheme entails a line across open fields directly into the Land Rover factory. Vehicle engines from Europe and body panels from Swindon would be delivered by rail and completed vehicles for export would be despatched by rail (replacing the existing Bordesley yard). A £l0million freight facilities grant will be sought and the opening in 2002 will be subject to the outcome of a public enquiry. In addition to removing 100,000 lorry journeys from local roads per annum, a spin-off benefit for local residents could be a new Damson Parkway station with electric trains to Birmingham International and New Street.
Reopening A former colliery branch line has also gained approval for reopening off the Birmingham-Tamworth line at Kingsbury to serve a new rail and industrial development near Bordon. Approval for a £3.5million Warwick Parkway station located one mile west of Warwick is good news for Chiltern Railways which will provide most of the funding and for commuters able to use the 400-space car park accessible from the nearby A46 and M40. A condition of approval is that connecting bus services must be provided for at least five years.
Modernisation Electrification of some 16 miles of route between Walsall via Cannock and Rugeley and Walsall-AIdridge part of the Sutton Park line has been the subject of a recent study for Railtrack Central Trains, Centro and Staffordshire Council.
Joint access The merits and feasibility of tram and traintrack sharing has taxed the minds of Midlands RDS in respect of the Walsall-Dudley-Stourbridge line where the five-mile section south of Wednesbury is proposed to carry both Midland Metro services to Merry Hill and also through heavy rail services.
Strategy In responding to Centro's 20-year public transport strategy, Midlands RDS has urged that the Stourbridge-Dudley-Walsall-Brownhills-Lichfield route be designated as potential heavy rail passenger route. Railtrack's Passenger Account Plan for Centro includes plans for new local services via Castle Bromwich, electrification to Bromsgrove, a new Brinsford Parkway north of Wolverhampton, and reopening of the Frankley branch. Arising from plans to redevelop Birmingham's Bull Ring shopping area, RDS Midlands has advocated the provision of space for an additional rail tunnel on the eastern approaches to New Street to cater for the overwhelming increase in train services envisaged in the near future.
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