COPIED TO: Birmingham City Council, Dudley MBC and Network Rail Chief Executives, for their urgent action
Sir, How bizarre can Birmingham and the Black Country get when it comes to rail? Is this not a bigger scandal than FIFA?
For fifty years, Network Rail and the authorities have deliberately kept nearly fifty miles of double track freight lines without passenger trains and stations. Lines that are literally alongside or near to commuter congested roads. All of them had successful passenger services for about 100 years, until fifty years ago.
Our transport aficionados have been so mesmerised by Midland Metro trams that in 34 years of enthusiastic endeavour, costing taxpayers millions of pounds, they will have finally achieved their one and only tram line by Christmas when it finally delivers shoppers to our dazzling, mirror-like, brand new Grand Central Shopping Centre and station at a cost of £750 million (the old New Street Station). Cost for the 0.7 mile tram extension at £75.4 million is £100 million per mile! A network of 200 Km Light Rail (LR) tram lines were planned to be in use by 2000. In 2015, they achieve 22 Km (mostly on a rail line) while 78 Km of double track freight lines remain devoid of commuter and ICE (inter city express) trains!
France, Switzerland and Germany have stunning ICE trains. Our 13 miles Black Country Line had express trains for about 100 years until the 1960s. Nothing since then - not even Midland Metro (LR) trams that, extraordinarily, remains their intention after 34 years. With growing road and rail congestion, why are our experts still wanting to see trams? The very latest plan is for Very Light Rail (VLR) trams on this local and nationally vital rail line. This strategic line is to shuttle passengers for only one mile, on one track down our ICE line, to the inter-city line in our neighbouring borough of Sandwell. The other track will be the test track for VLR. Why not connect Dudley directly with all parts of the UK with ICE trains to increase capacity and to reduce train congestion at our shiny new Grand Central Shopping Centre and station and, on our road and rail network?