Four of the UK’s five main freight routes pass through the midlands, making it one of the most traffic-dense regions of the country. Sea freight is all but eliminated here, but that doesn’t mean there’s such a thing as downtime. In place of ships, we have one of the UK’s busiest cargo airports, East Midlands Airport, a quarter of all employment in the region held in the manufacturing sector, – including 155,000 people employed in logistics occupations in the West Midlands alone – and more than 34,000 million tonne kilometres of goods moved in the region in 2017.

It’s a highly connected, greatly industrial region of the country, with a history steeped in trade. As the beating heart of the country’s logistics sector, it’s important that local infrastructure is capable of handling an increasing volume of freight loads. 

There are some brilliant developments happening already, such as the newly announced industrial and logistics units which are being built in Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire. July of this year also saw the best month in East Midlands Airport’s history for non-EU trade. But there are still issues with congestion on the roads which needs to be tackled in order to keep trade flowing.

Reflecting the region’s best interests within the transport and logistics sector, is Midlands Connect.  

In collaboration with central Government, Midlands Connect is a pan-regional partnership of 22 local authorities, 9 Local Enterprise Partnerships, chambers of commerce and main airports, along with Highways England, Network Rail and HS2 Ltd. The partnership covers an area from the Welsh border to the Lincolnshire coast, serving a population of more than 10 million people. 

Together, Midlands Connect and the Department for Transport have developed a landmark, 25-year transport strategy that identifies the major infrastructure projects needed to improve the connectivity of the region’s key locations to help drive economic growth and power the Midlands Engine. A large part of this strategy is the proposed Midlands Rail Hub.

Rail transport has an integral role in reducing pollution and congestion, and the Midlands Rail Hub is strongly advocated by the team at Midlands Connect. Centred on Birmingham, the hub is expected to increase the number of services and slash journey times across the region. Midlands Connect have said the new hub would allow £22bn worth of freight to be moved from road to rail – removing 4,300 lorries a day from the roads. 

In a press release regarding an open letter calling for the Government to commit to the Midlands Hub, Midlands Connect Director, Maria Machancoses, stated:

We’re proposing an ambitious yet deliverable set of asks of the Government that improves the lives of all Midlanders and benefits the national economy, too. The Midlands Rail Hub is central to this aim. There is region-wide support for improving historically slow and infrequent services between the East and West Midlands. That is why we’re asking for a commitment to delivering it that allows us to work with regional and national bodies to get the work started as soon as possible.

The partnership have outlined a full breakdown of the project in their report, ‘Our Routes to Growth’, published this year. It also outlines a recommendation to test the potential for trialling HGV platooning in the Midlands, to understand how lorries could move in sync through wireless technology. Midlands Connect will carry out more research this year on the prospect of trials, alongside other traffic management strategies such as freight-only lanes.  

As the FTA have outlined in their focus piece, three of the five Clean Air Zones (CAZs) which have been introduced by the Government are in the Midlands. The hub would complement the Midlands’ CAZ goals, not to mention the economic boost provided by the hundreds of jobs which would be created within the sector. A green future doesn’t necessarily mean 100% electric vehicles, and this project is an example of innovation in a more traditional form.

Stats

  • The Midlands Rail hub would create capacity for an extra 36 freight paths each day – totalling between £22 and £30 billion of goods each year according to estimates.
  • The Hub would also boost the economy by an estimated £649 million a year, according to Midlands Connect (Sept 2018).
  • Each freight train takes an average of 76 HGV’s off the road, meaning 1.66 billion fewer HGV Kilometres a year.

Sarah O’Connell, Senior Editor, FORWARDER magazine  

Four of the UK’s five main freight routes pass through the midlands, making it one of the most traffic-dense regions of the country. Sea freight is all but eliminated here, but that doesn’t mean there’s such a thing as downtime. In place of ships, we have one of the UK’s busiest cargo airports, East Midlands Airport, a quarter of all employment in the region held in the manufacturing sector, – including 155,000 people employed in logistics occupations in the West Midlands alone – and more than 34,000 million tonne kilometres of goods moved in the region in 2017.

It’s a highly connected, greatly industrial region of the country, with a history steeped in trade. As the beating heart of the country’s logistics sector, it’s important that local infrastructure is capable of handling an increasing volume of freight loads. 

There are some brilliant developments happening already, such as the newly announced industrial and logistics units which are being built in Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire. July of this year also saw the best month in East Midlands Airport’s history for non-EU trade. But there are still issues with congestion on the roads which needs to be tackled in order to keep trade flowing.

Reflecting the region’s best interests within the transport and logistics sector, is Midlands Connect.  

In collaboration with central Government, Midlands Connect is a pan-regional partnership of 22 local authorities, 9 Local Enterprise Partnerships, chambers of commerce and main airports, along with Highways England, Network Rail and HS2 Ltd. The partnership covers an area from the Welsh border to the Lincolnshire coast, serving a population of more than 10 million people. 

Together, Midlands Connect and the Department for Transport have developed a landmark, 25-year transport strategy that identifies the major infrastructure projects needed to improve the connectivity of the region’s key locations to help drive economic growth and power the Midlands Engine. A large part of this strategy is the proposed Midlands Rail Hub.

Rail transport has an integral role in reducing pollution and congestion, and the Midlands Rail Hub is strongly advocated by the team at Midlands Connect. Centred on Birmingham, the hub is expected to increase the number of services and slash journey times across the region. Midlands Connect have said the new hub would allow £22bn worth of freight to be moved from road to rail – removing 4,300 lorries a day from the roads. 

In a press release regarding an open letter calling for the Government to commit to the Midlands Hub, Midlands Connect Director, Maria Machancoses, stated:

We’re proposing an ambitious yet deliverable set of asks of the Government that improves the lives of all Midlanders and benefits the national economy, too. The Midlands Rail Hub is central to this aim. There is region-wide support for improving historically slow and infrequent services between the East and West Midlands. That is why we’re asking for a commitment to delivering it that allows us to work with regional and national bodies to get the work started as soon as possible.

The partnership have outlined a full breakdown of the project in their report, ‘Our Routes to Growth’, published this year. It also outlines a recommendation to test the potential for trialling HGV platooning in the Midlands, to understand how lorries could move in sync through wireless technology. Midlands Connect will carry out more research this year on the prospect of trials, alongside other traffic management strategies such as freight-only lanes.  

As the FTA have outlined in their focus piece, three of the five Clean Air Zones (CAZs) which have been introduced by the Government are in the Midlands. The hub would complement the Midlands’ CAZ goals, not to mention the economic boost provided by the hundreds of jobs which would be created within the sector. A green future doesn’t necessarily mean 100% electric vehicles, and this project is an example of innovation in a more traditional form.

Stats

  • The Midlands Rail hub would create capacity for an extra 36 freight paths each day – totalling between £22 and £30 billion of goods each year according to estimates.
  • The Hub would also boost the economy by an estimated £649 million a year, according to Midlands Connect (Sept 2018).
  • Each freight train takes an average of 76 HGV’s off the road, meaning 1.66 billion fewer HGV Kilometres a year.

Sarah O’Connell, Senior Editor, FORWARDER magazine