A £100million project to launch a tram-train line taking commuters across the Black Country will be in place by 2014 if plans unveiled in detail today are approved.
The move is expected to create hundreds of jobs.
Hybrid tram-trains, capable of travelling along both light and heavy rail tracks, would run along a defunct freight train route, taking passengers between Stourbridge and Walsall, with stops in Brierley Hill and Dudley town centre. Council chiefs estimate the plans would bring in a minimum £200m boost to the economy.
Cabinet member for transport at Dudley Council Angus Adams today revealed a full business plan had been submitted and was being considered by Network Rail. If approved, work could begin on the project as soon as 2014.
Councillor Adams said: “We believe there is a very strong case for this project to be approved, and are very optimistic. Not only would it bring in millions to the Black Country economy, it would ease pressure on the roads and create a fast passage between areas of the region which don’t have rail links at the moment.
“These tram-trains are being trialled at the moment in Sheffield, and are widely used across Europe already.”
He said the money was expected to come largely from Department for Transport grants, along with contributions from councils. If approved, the tram-trains would share the line with freight trains.
The line would be in operation for an estimated six to 10 years, while councils in the region wait to see whether £289m of funding to extend the Midland Metro will be made available.
Walsall Council’s member for transport, Tom Ansell, said the route would link up with the Lichfield to Aldridge line. “The line passes through a large industrial corridor, so would provide excellent development opportunities and bring jobs into the region.”
Network Rail’s decision on the scheme is expected to be revealed this summer.