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'Sardine tin' trains in the West Midlands

9 March 2007
The economy of the West Midlands will falter if there are not more and longer trains, says Transport 2000 [1], which is launching a manifesto for a growing railway in the West Midlands on Friday 9 March.

With one in five peak-period commuters arriving in Birmingham by train [2], overcrowding is already a problem and will only get worse in the West Midlands. Major urban areas such as Redditch, Worcester, Bromsgrove, Derby and Tamworth have infrequent services into Birmingham and London, with as few as two trains an hour. Passengers will switch back to cars if train services continue to be infrequent and overcrowded, adding to road congestion problems already prevalent in the region.

Transport 2000's Sardine Man will be talking to travellers outside Birmingham New Street Station on Friday 9 March in solidarity with squashed passengers on trains into Birmingham and on the platforms [3]. Birmingham New Street Station is one of the most overcrowded in the country, with platforms frequently closed because of the crush. Transport 2000 and others are calling for an urgent overhaul or rebuild of Birmingham New Street Station, which should include longer platforms and more track, as well as opening unused terminal platforms at Moor Street Station, helping alleviate overcrowding at New Street and enabling more trains to run.

Julia Thomas, Public Transport Campaigner at Transport 2000, said "Parts of the West Midlands have experienced a 49% growth in passenger numbers since 1995 [4] and the forecast is for passenger numbers to increase a further 50% by 2025. The question is: where are all these passengers going to be without rail expansion?"

Transport 2000's national campaign, Growing the Railways, calls on the Government to invest in more rail infrastructure, such as more train carriages, new signalling, longer platforms and revision of timetables to run more trains. Transport 2000 argues that rail offers a sensible, viable and environmentally responsible alternative to car travel BUT potential new passengers will be turned off by packed trains. If the Government is serious about tackling climate change then they must invest in an expanding rail network now to ensure that passengers have real alternatives to travelling by car.

In particular in the West Midlands Transport 2000 is calling for:


  • More frequent local train services between Nuneaton, Tamworth, Walsall, Wolverhampton and Birmingham
  • Better regional connections between Worcester and London, the West Midlands and the East Midlands
  • A rebuild of Birmingham New Street with longer platforms and more track
  • New signalling on the Stratford - Birmingham line to enable more trains to run and alleviate road congestion in the busy tourist destination
  • In-fill electrification to give more flexibility to the network and speed up services
  • Opening unused terminal platforms at Moor Street Station 



Notes to Editors

[1] Transport 2000 is an independent campaigning and research body that represents the key transport interests of around 40 environmental groups, transport organisations and transport unions. We bring together people who seek to reduce the environmental and social effects of transport through encouraging less use of cars, lorries and planes and more use of rail, buses, trams, cycling and walking.

[2] Modern Railways magazine, October 2006

[3] Photo opportunity, Friday 9 March. Sardine man will be posing outside Birmingham New Street station at 10.00am on 9 March, with passengers and speakers. Photographers are welcome.

Manifesto launch, Friday 9 March. The manifesto for Growing the Railways in the West Midlands will be launched at the BVSC, 138 Digbeth, Birmingham from 10.30 –11.30am. Business representatives, local authorities, rail user groups and MPs are expected to attend. Speakers offering the economic, environmental and social reasons for expanding the railway include:


  • Gisela Stuart, MP for Birmingham, Edgbaston
  • Gerry Blackett, chair of the West Midlands Business Transport group
  • Neil Dancer, Head of Transport, Birmingham City Council
  • Gerald Kells, Deputy Chair, West Midlands Regional Assembly Transport Partnership
  • Geoff Inskip, Chief Executive, Centro
  • Stephen Joseph, Executive Director, Transport 2000

Journalists are invited to attend this launch.


Sardine Man’s appearance in Birmingham marks the launch of a manifesto for improved train service in the West Midlands. This regional launch is part of a national campaign. In October 2005, Transport 2000 launched Growing the Railways: A Manifesto to Move Us Forward, endorsed by 21 other organisations including the TUC, RMT, Scope, the Ramblers and Help the Aged. The national campaign calls on the Government to plan for a growing railway network as it prepares its new strategy on the future of rail, due in summer 2007.

[4] The figure of 49% rail growth in the West Midlands over the past decade is from the Department for Transport’s regional transport statistics 2006.