- In 2011 58.4% of morning commuters in Birmingham travelled to work by car, while 4.8% used the train
- 4.4% of morning peak inbound trips into Sutton Coldfield were made by train compared to 78.4% via the car in 2011
- C. 26,000 new residents proposed through 10,000 new homes on the Sutton Coldfield green belt
The NPPF [Para 30] also states ‘Encouragement should be given to solutions which support reductions in greenhouse gas emissions and reduce congestion.
Any future large scale development, like 10,000 Sutton Coldfield green belt homes, would require transport options which encourage residents away from using the car.
The centre of gravity of jobs is clearly south of the M6 in Birmingham, and Sutton Coldfield provides Birmingham with a large work force who travel along the busy rail network, the Lichfield Trent Valley to Birmingham New Street Line.
Increasing the population in the Sutton Coldfield region, by building an urban extension on the green belt, will put a huge strain on train services that are already under pressure today.
Lichfield Trent Valley to Birmingham News Street
The Lichfield Trent Valley to Birmingham News Street Station line is overcrowded and at maximum capacity. Volume issues hamper extra rolling stock from being added to existing trains and thus preventing a much needed increase in passenger numbers.
Track bottlenecks near Birmingham New Street Station mean that train operators are unable to increase service frequency during peak times. This is the only period when the extra carriages make a contribution to revenue. The result being it would not be financially viable to increase rolling stock.
This would pose quite a challenge because, according to ONS Method of Travel to Work data 2011, 58.4% of morning commuters in Birmingham traveled to work by car, while only 4.8% used the train. A Centro Future Travel 2011 study found 4.4% of morning peak inbound trips into Sutton Coldfield were made by train compared to 78.4% via the car.
Transport requires cross-boundary ‘alignment’ of policies and investment plans between local authorities, including Birmingham City Council and Lichfield District Council. The need for significant investment to overcome capacity bottlenecks is well established. A planning inspector is examining the plan for Lichfield District has written to Lichfield District Council saying that among the MAIN ISSUES he will be examining are whether Birmingham and Lichfield have ‘cooperated constructively’ while preparing their plans and whether proper viability testing of sites has been done.
Sutton Park or Tamworth to Birmingham lines?
Introducing a passenger timetable from Walsall to Birmingham along the Sutton Park Line or Tamworth to Birmingham would contribute to providing sustainable development options in Lichfield, Tamworth and on the Sutton Coldfield green belt. However, there is a lack of capacity at New Street Station to accommodate passenger trains from either routes.
The solution would be to run train lines into Birmingham Moor Street Station and provide much needed additional rail capacity for central Birmingham.
But this requires the construction of the costly £120m Camp Hill Chords project at Bordesley, a pair of rail lines providing access from the Water Orton direction and Camp Hill line into Birmingham Moor Street. The Chords were scheduled for construction around 2019-24 at the earliest, however Birmingham City Council recently announced the sale of land required to build the connection. So a passenger timetable on both lines is unlikely to be introduced until after completion of the Chords.
That said, Birmingham City Council will need to provide evidence that there are no other more sustainable alternatives to building on the Sutton Coldfield green belt.