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Friday, 9 November, 2001, 15:30 GMT
Billions needed for Midlands transport
Birmingham traffic
Better rail and bus services are proposed in the study
Billions of pounds need to be spent to improve traffic congestion across the Midlands over the next 30 years, according to a new report.

The West Midlands Multi-Modal Study, commissioned by the government, says most roads will grind to a halt unless radical changes are made.

It says 7.5bn of government money is needed to carry out a range of proposals to alleviate the region's current problems.

The recommendations include new underground platforms at Birmingham's New Street station, better rail services and plans for up to a dozen park and ride sites, most linked to railway stations.

Road tolls

Other proposals include better bus services and bus lanes and controversial plans for tolls on some of the busiest roads in the West Midlands urban area as well as the widening of the M42 between the NEC and the M40 to form a massive 10-lane highway,

There is also a plan for by-passes around Stourbridge and Wolverhampton to improve movement through the Black Country.

Environmentalist Gerald Kells said: "There is a lot we can do with public transport and we can make it reliable.

"This report backs that up and that's very welcome."

He added: "It is always a challenge because the report says we can't get round the congestion charge issue.

"There are two things we can do. One is not to have the congestion charge and let the situation get worse.

"It is a difficult choice but one we have to face up to."

The plan will go out for a full public consultation and, with any changes, will be approved in the spring of 2003.

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