VOTERS IN THE WEST MIDLANDS COUNTY (Birmingham, Wolverhampton, Walsall, Sandwell, Dudley, Solihull and Coventry) have the opportunity to elect a Mayor on Thursday 4th May 2017.


The Mayor will have a number of responsibilities, but the key ones they will have when they take office relate to transport.  He or she will have responsibilities for the key local authority road network in the West Midlands, road safety, managing bus services and improving air quality.


They will also have responsibilities for local rail too, although the Mayor would be working in partnership with colleagues in other authorities in the wider region.

More information about the election, including who is eligible to vote and how to vote can be found on the website http://westmidselects.org.uk/


Campaign for Rail has written to each candidate, asking them to outline their plans for the rail network in the West Midlands.  A copy of the letter follows.  In particular, we’ve asked for their positions on the full devolution of rail services to West Midlands Rail, following the revelation in Modern Railways that the current Secretary of State for Transport Chris Grayling has blocked the plans.

Dear


I am writing to you on behalf of Campaign for Rail.  Campaign for Rail is an organisation that advocates railway interests and the best interests of all rail passengers and groups, including (but not limited to) Rail User Groups, Freight Development, and re-opening of lines and services.  We also lobby for and promote rail interests with the relevant statutory bodies.  Our website www.campaignforrail.org.uk contains more information about our work and campaigns.


The next 18 months will be an important period for the rail network in the West Midlands.  The London Midland franchise for local services in the region will be replaced by a new “West Midlands Rail” operation, influenced by local authorities in the region.  We are extremely disappointed however that the current Secretary of State for Transport has withdrawn the offer of complete devolution of the specification and management of local rail operations in the West Midlands.  


There is also a need to continue investment.  The completion of electrification on the Chase Line and Cross City South to Bromsgrove is welcome.  However, crowding remains an issue, particularly on the Cross City line in Birmingham.  Following an abysmal autumn a commuter on this route launched a petition requesting longer trains, and users on the route are unhappy with the quality of service.   


We would like to ask you the following questions and would be grateful for your response:


  1. Do you support the devolution of the specification and management of local rail services to “West Midlands Rail” in Birmingham from the Department for Transport in Whitehall?
  2. What are your top three priorities to improve rail services in the West Midlands, that you hope to have seen completed, by the time your term in office ends in 2020?
  3. How will you secure funding to improve rail services and transport in the West Midlands?  Do you feel you will have enough resources available to deliver improvements to infrastructure?

We intend to publish your responses on our website, so our members and rail users can understand what your plans are for making improvements to the rail network in the West Midlands region.


We look forward to hearing from you.

The following candidates have stood for election.  Their websites may be viewed by clicking on the appropriate website button.  We will publish the responses of each candidate as we receive them and their reply button will turn green.  We’ll offer no comment on the replies and leave it up to members and rail users living in the West Midlands County to decide who to back in the election.

Andy Street

Conservative

Website Reply

James Burn

Green Party

Website Reply

Siôn Simon

Labour

Website Reply

Beverley Nielsen

Liberal Democrat

Website Reply

Pete Durnell

UKIP

Website Reply

Graham Stevenson Communist Party

Website Reply

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