SOLIHULL council leader Bob Sleigh was among those to show several major West Midlands transport schemes to government officials.
Yesterday (January 18), more than 100 senior Department for Transport (DfT) managers, including Permanent Secretary Bernadette Kelly, travelled from Whitehall to Birmingham for a regional tour of the latest transport system developments.
The tour included a welcome speech by mayor for the West Midlands, Andy Street, who also chairs the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA).
They were also met by deputy mayor of the West Midlands and leader of Solihull council, Coun Bob Sleigh and Huw Rhys Lewis, managing director of the Urban Growth Company who explained plans to transform Birmingham International railway station into a major transport hub.
Transport for West Midlands (TfWM), the transport arm of the WMCA, provided the civil servants with a tour of key schemes already under construction and part funded by government.
The tours also included visits to the locations of other major projects in the pipeline.
The WMCA say some of the schemes, between them, represent up to half a billion pounds worth of investment.
Laura Shoaf, managing director of TfWM, accompanied the permanent secretary on a tour of UK Central Hub, at the National Exhibition Centre and Birmingham Airport site.
The WMCA say the project aims to provide seamless connections to Birmingham Airport and the new HS2 Interchange Station by 2025, bringing together rail, tram and bus services, as well as private vehicles, taxis and bicycles.
Coun Sleigh said: “The West Midlands is enjoying a renaissance right now but we need to make sure we have a transport network that can not only meet the increasing needs of passengers and businesses but also help accelerate that economic growth.
“That’s why we will be spending £3billion on new transport infrastructure over the coming decade to provide more tram and rail lines, better roads and more cycle routes.
“I’m therefore pleased we have been able to welcome Bernadette and her staff to the region and show them how these schemes make a real difference to people’s everyday lives.”
Bernadette Kelly said: “The Midlands is at the heart of the UK and its transport network.
“Modern, effective links are critical to driving forward the government’s commitment to make the Midlands a powerful engine for economic growth, both regionally and across the country.
“We are improving connectivity, shortening journey times, reducing congestion and transporting people, ideas and goods.
“We are making every day journeys better and connecting lives, jobs and communities.
“I and colleagues are pleased to have seen some of that work first hand today.”