THE time it takes to travel between Hereford and Birmingham could be slashed if £2 billion plans to improve the Midlands railway network are approved.

Commuters from Hereford to the second city could also see extra trains after Midlands Connect submitted plans to the government which they say are the most ambitious for a generation.

Part of the plans would see an estimated £235 million being spent to doubling part of the line west of Ledbury, and additional signals to allow more trains to run throughout the day, one extra per hour.

Herefordshire Council's cabinet member for infrastructure believes it would help to reduce overcrowding.

Coun John Harrington said: “An extra train service each hour would make a significant difference to people using our county stations and would go some way to reducing periodic overcrowding that has been a problem in recent years.

"Rail travel is a vital aspect of Herefordshire’s connectivity to the rest of the country, and we need to find ways of making services more frequent.

"Improved rail services will contribute to our efforts to encourage more sustainable modes of transportation, and we welcome this investment by Midlands Connect.”

Journey times between the two cities could be cut by 20 minutes to 65 minutes, if the plans are passed and work completed by 2033

Passenger journeys in the West Midlands are growing faster than anywhere else in the country, and have risen by 121% over the past decade, but Midlands Connect said without investment the region’s rail network can’t keep pace with this record demand.

The project would also see a Midlands Rail Hub created which would integrate with HS2, the planned high-speed railway between London and Birmingham.

Following the submission of the Midlands Rail Hub Strategic Outline Business Case to the Department for Transport, Midlands Connect has asked for an additional £25 million in funding to bring the project to the outline business case stage of development, which includes specific scheme development and sequencing, a full overview of benefits, project designs, and a full risk assessment.