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In Shropshire, we will work with our partners to develop a business case for using the West Coast Main Line capacity released by HS2 for more services between Shrewsbury, Telford, Wolverhampton and Birmingham. The arrival of HS2 in 2026 also offers options to increase the frequency of Shrewsbury-London services and we will work with the new Wales and Borders rail franchise to ensure better access to services at Crewe ahead of the 2027 opening of Phase 2a.
The Midlands Rail Hub will cut Hereford to Birmingham journey times from 90 minutes to 60, and double the frequency to two trains per hour, making it feasible for commuting. Improvements to services from Birmingham to the East Midlands bring Leicester, Derby and Nottingham all within two hours of Hereford, rather than three, which could transform the economic prospects of the Marches.
Midlands Connect has supported Telford & Wrekin Council in championing the earliest possible delivery of the planned M54 to M6/M6 (Toll) Link Road. The link will improve Shropshire’s access to the rest of the country, stimulating economic growth. It is also an assumption underlying the Midlands Motorway Hub proposals.
Midlands Connect is also supporting Herefordshire Council and Marches LEP on the Hereford Bypass. The bypass will support 6,500 homes and 6,000 jobs, significantly improving access to the South West and Wales and reducing congestion around Hereford. The Welsh Government has also identified this scheme as a priority.
We are also working with Marches LEP and the Welsh Government on a joint strategy to enhance freight movements within and through the region. The benefits for HGV traffic alone will be worth at least £149 million, with the knock-on value of improved trade and business relationships potentially even higher.
Existing transport planning models make it hard for rural schemes to gain funding priority over their urban counterparts. We are supporting Marches LEP to develop a fairer way to make the case for investment.
Graham Wynn OBE, Chairman, The Marches LEP
Hereford-Birmingham journey time under Midlands Rail Hub plans
new homes expected by 2031