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Rail body backs Midlands Connect for devolved powers

Shenfield piling ms

The Rail Industry Association (RIA) has thrown its weight behind Midlands Connect’s bid to become a sub-national transport body, which would give it greater powers over transport.

The Midlands transport body is looking to follow in the footsteps of Transport for the North, which won devolved powers over spending earlier this year.

RIA chief executive Darren Caplan said it was particularly important for rail that Midlands Connect gets statutory powers over planning and spending, as rail in the region generates £46bn for the economy each year.

HS2 will run through the Midlands when its Birmingham station opens in 2026.

Caplan said: “We agree that Midlands Connect should become a Sub National Transport Body (STB), as Transport for the North did earlier this year.

“STB status gives the organisation the power to drive transport policy in the region. It will not only give local communities a greater say over decision making, but will increase efficiency, reliability, quality and resilience in the transport system, enable economic growth across the Midlands and provide certainty for private investment through the development of a transport strategy.”

Although Midlands Connect calls itself a sub-national transport body already, it is fighting for statutory powers from government which would give it more control over transport planning and spending in the Midlands.

It is hoping to have statutory powers by 2020, and is currently running an industry consultation to gather support for its bid.

A spokesperson for Midlands Metro said getting statutory powers was “about giving us a view on what the government is doing” around transport planning and spending for the Midlands.

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