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West Midlands secures over £1 billion to drive green transport revolution

CGI of Coventry's proposed Very Light Rail system (developed with the University of Warwick)

The pressure is on with all nations at COP 26 debating how to fund a green revolution to stop the climate crisis. How much will it take to make behavioural changes in our cities to combat carbon emissions?

Cllr Ian Courts, WMCA portfolio for transport and Leader of Solihull Council, who has spoken at Future Cities Forum's events, has been reacting to an announcement of West Midlands being handed £1 billion funding to expand the region's tram, train, bus and cycle networks in order to drive a green transport revolution. He said:

'The people and communities of the West Midlands must be at the heart of the government's levelling up agenda and of course we would have liked to have seen more funding for our ambitions for the region. That said, it will nevertheless help us make a real difference to our communities, as we work on better connections, to improve access to jobs and attract further investment.'

The West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) secured the money from the government's City Region Sustainable Transport Settlement (CRSTS) fund. Hundreds of millions of pounds will now be used to kickstart a wide range of projects from new Metro tram extensions to more electric vehicle charging points in a move to decarbonise the region's transport system, create new jobs and opportunities for local people and bolster the fight against climate change.

An ambitious bid document, developed in partnership across the region and submitted by the WMCA to the Department for Transport (DfT) set out priorities for transport investment which would help drive a green and inclusive economic recovery and support the region's target to be net Zero by 2041.

The bid set out how funding would support early planning and development work on four new Metro extensions in Birmingham, Dudley, Sandwell, Wallsall and Wolverhampton; be used to build new rail stations and bus interchanges at Solihull, Sutton Coldfield and Aldridge and support the roll out of the revolutionary Very Light Rail network in Coventry.

Moves towards a zero-carbon transport network would also be accelerated with the installation of 1,000 electric vehicle charging points, as well as ultra-fast charging facilities for electric heavy goods vehicles, vans and buses. A raft of new safe cycling routes would also be developed to encourage people to be more active on their commute.

Following the £1 billion announcement the region will now begin working up details of the projects that will be taken forward and presented back to the DfT. The funding will cover five years from April 2022.

Cllr Ian Courts added:

'Projects like the extension of our Metro network will also encourage more people to leave their cars at home, improving the air we breathe and we're committed to making this funding work for the people of this region.;

The WMCA and partners are meanwhile seeking additional funding opportunities through other government sources such as the Levelling Up Fund and the Bus Service Improvement Plan to support projects which cannot go forward through CRSTS.

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