Birmingham City Council and Centro are proposing to change how transport links operate in the City centre area. These will be major changes, happening in a couple of years. Consultation and action are starting in the course of this year and we should be prepared to respond, as necessary.
Centro are creating a dedicated website at www.centro.org.uk/connectedcity giving lots of information about the proposals. However, as it isn’t ready yet – 22 March 2011 – I have written this provisional report using Centro’s material.
In summary there are six main project areas, some new, others already in progress:
- Midlands Metro extension
The first sign of this project was the bridge over Great Charles Street, which is now virtually finished. The next street works won’t appear until 2013. The bulk of the work during this year and next is procurement, particularly the new and replacement rolling stock.
- City Centre Interchanges
To accommodate the Metro extension, buses have to be moved out of Corporation Street. Centro are taking the opportunity to make radical changes to the way that buses serve the whole central area. They are grouping bus services into five ‘families’ based on which part of the city they come from. Each family will have dedicated stopping places around the central area from which they return to their origination points.
The diagram above shows the layout of the five interchanges and the two special routes (16 and 24) which will travel between them. Centro will be consulting on the distribution of routes among these interchanges. We expect that the website will give the details in due course.
- Birmingham Gateway
This complete redevelopment of New Street station is well in hand and due to complete in 2015. (It may even come in under budget!) John Lewis has recently announced that it will base a major new store in the concourse.
Centro aims to improve the information available on the street for guiding people around the city and at bus stops to help travellers make choices about their journeys.
This new network of bus rapid transit corridors will provide high frequency, fast routes with new purpose-built vehicles. Consultation will begin this year on the first route – Five Ways to Walsall.
- High Speed Rail
This longer term project is now in the public consultation phase over the principle and the route. It is controversial at the national level with some well-resourced and determined opponents. West Midlands interests argue that high speed rail, first to Birmingham and later to Manchester and Leeds, will bring these cities closer together and support businesses, sustainable growth and regeneration within Birmingham, the West Midlands and nationally.
You can have your say (as well as learning much more about the project) by consulting http://www.highspeedrail.dft.gov.uk.
These changes are serious; we need to keep informed about them.
(Deputy Chair, City Centre Neighbourhood Forum)