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MPs have given their backing to an expansion of the Midland Metro tram system in the Black Country - just a week before the government is expected to sign off the New Street to Snow Hill extension in Birmingham.

Members of the Transport Select Committee recommended that the principle of bringing disused rail lines back into use should become a cornerstone of government transport policy - which is precisely what the regional transport authority Centro is planning to do with the old Walsall to Stourbridge freight line, which would be incorporated into the Metro network.

In their "Priorities for Investment in the Railways" report, the influential group of MPs have called on the Government to take a more pro-active policy position that encourages schemes bringing old lines back into service - both for passenegers and freight.

Centro Chief Executive Geoff Inskip said: "We're extremely pleased that the Select Committee has endorsed the approach we've been taking towards implementing the region's transport priorities and in particular the Black Country rapid transit spine.

"The committee's report calls for the reopening of disused rail lines, expanding the rail freight network and for schemes that aid economic regeneration and improve social inclusion.

"Our plans to reopen the Walsall to Stourbridge freight line and also run trams on it would do all these things, acting as an economic catalyst and a lifeline for the Black Country."

Centro cites independent research by the Centre for Economic and Business Research (CEBR) found that the proposed Metro extensions through Birmingham city centre and from Wednesbury to Stourbridge could create up to 5,300 sustainable new jobs and boost the region’s economy by an extra £178 million a year.

Meanwhile The Stirrer understands that the government will finally sanction Metro extension from Birmingham New Street to Snow Hill next week.



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