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Chinese plan HS2 link for disused Victorian rail line

The planned railway would link to HS2 and Birmingham Airport

A Chinese state-owned business has approached Birmingham City Council about reopening an old railway line.

Under the plans, the Stonebridge Railway in Warwickshire would link to the HS2 Birmingham Interchange station, with connections to Birmingham Airport.

The council confirmed it had received a letter from the China Railway Group interested in designing, constructing and financing the project.

Transport group Centro called the plans "interesting".

'Long-term investments'

Under the plans, the 11.7 kilometres (7.3 miles) link would run from Hampton-in-Arden, near Solihull to Whitacre Junction, in North Warwickshire, with links to Birmingham International Station and the National Exhibition Centre.

What was the Stonebridge Railway?

  • The Stonebridge Railway was opened in 1839
  • It ran from Whitacre, in Warwickshire, to Hampton-in-Arden
  • The line closed in the 1930s

Rail experts believe it would cost an estimated £240 million to restore the line, or £280 million with full electrification.

Birmingham City Council said the China Railway Group, the main construction company for China's railways, had sent it a letter in December, expressing its interest in backing the scheme.

The letter said: "We write to express our formal interest in making long-term investments in the region, including the development and enhancement of Birmingham Airport, and in the development of the railways of the region to connect with the proposed HS2 High Speed line."

Transport Minister Stephen Hammond has said he will look at the proposals.

Geoff Inskip, Centro chief executive, said: "This is an interesting proposal and more work is needed to understand exactly how it could improve access to HS2 and Birmingham Airport and deliver improved, direct journeys to and from the West Midlands.."

A Birmingham City Council spokesperson confirmed they had been contacted by the railway group and said: "We are always keen to hear of any proposals that could improve connectivity and transport infrastructure in the city."

A Department for Transport spokesman said: "We would be interested in seeing a detailed business case to support this scheme."

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