Work is to begin shortly on the construction of two railway stations in the West Midlands, which will be built along a line current used for freight traffic.
The new stations in the Black Country towns of Darlaston and Willenhall will provide enhanced connections to Wolverhampton and Birmingham when the new service starts in 2023. The work will be funded by a £55 million grant that the government has now confirmed, providing the first passenger services in the towns for half a century.
Workers on the stations may benefit from waterproof work trainers as they carry out the task of construction in all weathers over the next couple of years.
West Midlands mayor Andy Street said: “The people of Darlaston and Willenhall have waited a long time for these stations, and soon they will see diggers on site as we get to work.”
He added that the new stations would also boost the local economy by providing construction jobs and encouraging investment and housebuilding in the area, helping it bounce back from the economic effects of the pandemic.
These sentiments were echoed by Deputy leader of Walsall Council Cllr Adrian Andrew, and City of Wolverhampton Council leader Cllr Ian Brookfield, who also pointed to the potential power of investment in public transport in the Black Country to help attract investment.
Mr Street noted that “decades of decline” in transport in the area was being reversed through heavy public transport investment.
Further construction sector jobs will be generated by these schemes. In addition to the Darlaston and Willenhall Stations, the West midlands Combined Authority recently unveiled plans for a new station at Aldridge, the old one having closed in the 1960s Beeching Cuts.
The fact that these three new stations will all be in Walsall may be significant, as even after the extension of the Midlands Metro tram system it will be almost untouched by the system, bar the Bradley Lane stop on the border with Sandwell.
Construction and engineering work is currently taking place on extensions in Dudley and Wolverhampton city centre, in addition to new lines in Birmingham.