According to the front page article in last week’s Birmingham Post, one of the ideas that Centro and the City Council are looking at for the city centre, is a Cable Car linking New Street and the new Moor Street/HS2 Terminus. The scheme is similar to the one which opened in London in June. The Emirates Air Line spans the Thames between North Greenwich and the Royal Docks and cost around £60 million to build.
This is another scheme that would be needed because of HS2 coming to Birmingham, and therefore the city centre termini require better links, or so the argument goes. While there probably is a need to improve connectivity between the railway stations, the cable car idea (and the metro extension for that matter) does seem a rather expensive way of doing it. It seems that HS2 is being used as a justification for every hair-brained vanity project that is being thought up at the moment.
The cable car would probably cost a similar amount to the one in London, and whilst that did manage to recoup around half the costs through a sponsorship deal, there is no guarantee that a Birmingham Cable Car would attract the same level of sponsorship money. £60 million would pay for a good chunk of cost of re-opening of the South Birmingham, Sutton Park and Tamworth lines to local rail traffic, an idea which was briefly mentioned in two lines dedicated in the Birmingham post article.
It seems that yet again, connections for people travelling through the city centre are being prioritised over connections for people in the suburbs to travel to the city centre and the wider conurbation. Centro and Birmingham City Council should make lobbying for investment in the re-opening of these railway lines a priority, as opposed to lobbying for investment in what is yet another city centre vanity project. Let’s get moving on a transport policy that benefits the many in the city centre, rather than the few travelling through it.