The Marches could gain 16 extra passenger trains per day as PM is urged to back £3.5bn Midlands Engine Rail

September 11, 2019
  • £3.5 billion plan to revolutionise rail network
  • 16 more trains running in to and out of Shropshire and Herefordshire each day, 736 in total across network
  • New regular, direct services from Telford, Wellington and Shrewsbury to London, as well as more frequent links to Wolverhampton and Birmingham
  • More frequent services between Hereford, Ledbury and Birmingham, including journey time reduction of 20 minute
  • Creates space for an additional 1 million lorries’ worth of cargo to be transported by rail each year
  • Designed to boost productivity, social mobility and economic growth across the Midlands Engine
  • Chair of Midlands Engine, Sir John Peace urges Prime Minister to give the Midlands the ‘long-overdue investment’ it deserves

The Marches could benefit from Midlands Engine Rail, a £3.5 billion improvement programme to transform the region’s rail network, launched today by Sub-national Transport Body Midlands Connect.

Plans could see a new direct, regular link between Telford, Wellington, Shrewsbury and London, as well as more frequent links to Birmingham and Wolverhampton, providing a step-change in regional connectivity. The plans would introduce an extra hourly service between Hereford, Ledbury and Birmingham, as well as slashing journey times from Hereford to Birmingham by 20 minutes.

Made up of seven projects spanning the East and West Midlands, the programme is strategically-important in supercharging the Midlands Engine economy and is designed to drive sustainability, productivity and social mobility across the whole region. It also includes and builds upon the flagship Midlands Rail Hub scheme; aimed at boosting east-west connectivity, that was submitted to government in June 2019.

Designed to be delivered in stages from 2022 to the completion of HS2 Phase Two, Midlands Engine Rail will provide a much-needed capacity boost for national, local and regional rail services, creating space for 736 more passenger trains on the network each day – 16 of these services would run in to and out of Shropshire. Over the past two years, rail passenger numbers have risen faster in the Midlands than anywhere else in the UK.1

Up to 60 locations could benefit from improved services, including Birmingham, Leicester, Coventry, Nottingham, Derby, Stoke-on-Trent, Crewe, Shrewsbury, Lincoln, Worcester and Wolverhampton.

Due to the Midlands’ central position at the heart of the UK transport network, the programme is also nationally-significant, driving benefits as far afield as Cardiff, Bristol, Newcastle, Kettering and Sheffield.
Midlands Engine Rail is fully integrated with HS2 and includes plans for two new conventional-compatible services that will directly link Nottingham and Leicester city centres to the new high speed network.

Improvements will increase the speed and frequency of existing services as well as introducing new direct services, including new links from Coventry to and from Leicester, Nottingham, Derby, Sheffield and Newcastle. It is also designed to reduce carbon emissions and encourage both passengers and freight off the roads and onto the railways.

Civic and business leaders are now calling on Prime Minister Boris Johnson to back Midlands Engine Rail, fund the next stage of its development (£45.5 million over the next three years), and to display the same enthusiasm for infrastructure investment in the Midlands as he has in the North.

Sir John Peace, chair of Midlands Connect and Midlands Engine said:

“In the Midlands, more people are travelling on the railways than ever before. We now need investment from Government to allow our people, businesses and infrastructure to reach their full potential, and to drive a further boost in passenger numbers. Midlands Engine Rail is essential in creating a more sustainable, productive and mobile Midlands.

“Whether they live in Shrewsbury, Lincoln, Birmingham or Leicester, our communities deserve the opportunity to make greener choices, to access a world-class education and to reach the widest possible variety of career opportunities. We must create a transport network that helps our businesses to grow, not holds them back”

“My message to the Prime Minister is clear; it’s time you made a long-overdue commitment to the future of our rail network. Ten million Midlanders are counting on you; invest in their futures, turn our vision into reality, back Midlands Engine Rail.”

Gill Hamer, director of Marches LEP, said:

“For too long commuters in the Marches have had to endure slow, infrequent and indirect services – Midlands Engine Rail provides the capacity and connectivity our towns and cities need to thrive. As we work towards a carbon-zero future, its essential that we encourage commuters and visitors to get out of their cars and onto trains, as well as opening up access to skilled labour across the region. We welcome and support Midlands Connect’s proposals to revolutionise the rail network in this region.”

Robert Nisbet, director of nations & regions at the Rail Delivery Group, which represents rail companies, said:

“Millions of train journeys are made in the Midlands every week and rail companies are working together to improve services, with new and refurbished trains being introduced to run more services. Further investment as part of Midlands Engine Rail will improve journeys for passengers between towns and cities across the region and power economic growth by unlocking new business opportunities.”


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The Marches Local Enterprise Partnership has now ceased trading and transferred all its functions to Shropshire Council working with Telford & Wrekin Council and Herefordshire Council, in line with the UK Government's plans for devolution.

The Marches LEP was established in 2011 and hands over an impressive legacy from its 13-year life. In that time the LEP invested over £196m in projects across the Marches, securing in excess of £100m of match funding and supported more than 66,000 business interactions.

The schemes supported have made tangible differences to local communities, increasing skills, creating jobs and improving the physical appearance of many towns.

We would like to thank all the LEP Board Members who have given their time freely over the life of the LEP, as well as all the staff who worked for the LEP over the years. We also want to thank our delivery partners, local education providers and local, regional and national stakeholders who helped us achieve so much.

The Marches Growth Hub will continue to support businesses and will be managed by Shropshire Council, supported by Telford and Wrekin and Herefordshire Councils. Each of the three Local Authorities will also continue to provide direct business support locally. Details of this support will be available through the Marches Growth Hub website and from the Local Authorities directly. Website: | email:

The Marches Careers Hub will continue to be delivered and will be managed by Shropshire Council, supported by Telford & Wrekin and Herefordshire Councils. Website: | email:

For any queries about Getting Building Fund (GBF), Local Growth Fund (LGF) and Marches Investment Fund (MIF) projects supported by the Marches LEP please contact:

For any finance queries please contact:

The solvent liquidation of the Marches LEP is being managed by the Evelyn Partners Limited. For any matter related to this please contact:

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