40m new railway station in Solihull set to be ruled out
Moving Solihull Railway Station to a new location would be “problematic and expensive”, likely to cost at least twice the amount of revamping the current site.
A report due to be considered by borough councillors later this week recommends ruling out the option of building a new station at Monkspath Hall Road.
The document predicts that developing the brand-new stop would cost more than £40 million, double the £20 million that is thought to be needed to upgrade the ageing facilities at the existing site.
The challenges of acquiring land, question marks about flooding risk and concerns that the new location would be less accessible for the majority of travellers also weigh against the more radical proposal, according to officers.
However, their report also emphasises that the current station has become increasingly outdated and overcrowded, with the site struggling to cope with recent increases in passenger numbers.
Without action there are fears that further growth in the volume of people passing through daily could harm the operation of the station and may even pose a risk to the local economy.
“Based on Network Rail’s own growth forecasts – without this investment the critical economic contribution of the town centre to the regional economy cannot be taken for granted and its future growth and regional economic contribution risks being severely compromised,” said the report.
“Recent research highlighted that Solihull’s relatively high productivity and growth rates cannot be sustained without intervention and investment.
“A redeveloped station that accommodates increased passenger capacity is an important component of this investment.”
At their meeting on Thursday, Solihull’s cabinet will be asked to approve work to look in detail at the options for improving the existing station, which has been based at its present location since the 1930s.
Cllr Joe Tildesley (Con, St Alphege) is among those who has stressed the importance of making changes.
Speaking at a decision session last month, the cabinet member for leisure, tourism and sport – who has particular responsibility for driving up visitor numbers – said the sooner the current station was dealt with the better
“Update it, modernise it and make it a really, really welcoming place when people first come to Solihull, so they know we are a really, really vibrant place that’s going forward.”
Surveys previously carried out by Solihull Council revealed that footfall had increased by almost a third in the space of just five years (from 1.4 million passenger journeys each year to 1.9 million).
Network Rail forecasts that this trend will continue over the coming decades, placing further pressure on the existing infrastructure.