Four Oaks Neighbourhood Forum

A Meeting of the forum was held on October 11th to inform us on developments in local rail services.

Principal speakers were Malcolm Holmes, executive director  of West Midlands Rail
and Richard Brooks, Director of West Midland Trains Customer Services.
Attended by approximately 25 residents/interested parties.

The Sutton Park rail line for passenger traffic:-
Not expected to be opened for 20 years. Line capacity at Water Orton is the primary cause for line not opening earlier.
One suggestion (from T. Whitehead of  Ecosutton) was that rail access and parking from the Walmley and Langley housing development should be included at an early planning stage. M. Holmes noted this proposal. Four Oaks station has ‘disabled’ parking but also needs a passenger lift across the platforms.

Use of Walsall line to Camphill station as transfer enroute point for traffic through Birmingham.

Sutton bus train transport interchange.
This is currently Brassington avenue or opposite The Station pub.  CHAIRMAN noted that a neighbourhood plan would be highly beneficial in deciding location.

Money is available for HS2 project to enable simpler access for all areas within 45 minutes of Terminal.

Connectivity and Sprint bus system for Langley.
Considerable emphasis to be laid on the system, priority through pinch points, improved shelters and time displays. Consultation has been extended but is closing soon.
Comment from the floor was that the Sprint system had been tried in Castle Vale and abandoned within two years. It was suggested that rail transport would be greener than sprint.  Chairman agreed.

Parking /Access.
Four Oaks station is popular because trains run every 10 minutes and within the cheaper fare zone.
A suggestion from the floor that a Lichfield Parkway station be created, was noted. It would relieve congestion at the Four Oaks carpark.
No extension of parking in Sutton Area is planned, because too little space is available around the stations.
Noted that there are 39000 spaces in West Mids used by a significant portion of cars from homes within 1 mile of stations. Hope to alter habit towards cycling and walking.

West Midlands travel.
Now under single regional control which should enable coordinated bus -rail timetabling. greater capacity and later running.
The population is expected to expand by the same amount as Liverpool (550,000)

Train timetabling.
Changes to timetabling in May 2019, includes late evening and weekend timetable.

Rail Franchise change to West Midlands Trains.
Investment in new trains has gone ahead and a more unified brand is proposed. Looking to increase local participation with stations, involving feedback and creation of services such as ‘corner’ shops..

West Midlands Area Priority.
HS2 and the Commonwealth Games are top priorities for investment and  funding.

Conclusion.
This was an informative and encouraging meeting with some good points made both from the floor and from the chair.
D. Ratcliff  and T. Whithead.

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