THE director of the Midland Connect has told the Commons Transport Committee the time is now for better regional rail investment.

The director of Midlands Connect Maria Machancoses, the pan-regional transport partnership, has told the committee that it’s time investment in the region’s railways matched the growth ambitions of its towns, cities and businesses.

The committee was taking evidence from a number of regional transport bodies, including Midlands Connect, Transport for the North, Peninsula Rail Taskforce and Merseytravel, about regional disparities in railway investment.

Ms Machancoses said: “We’re no longer saying, ‘we’re the poor Midlands, take care of us.’

"We’re saying there is a huge momentum, our cities and towns and sectors have clear ambition for growth, our railways are being used, so this is the time to invest in the future prosperity of the Midlands.”

Office of rail and road statistics show that in 2016/17, rail passenger journeys rose by 5.4 per cent in the West Midlands.

During the debate, there were calls for regional transport partnerships to have more influence over government investment decisions, as Midlands Connect starts the process of becoming the country’s second sub-national transport body, a statutory partner with the government.

Maria Machancoses said: "We don’t want to just be consultees, we want to help and work with government in shaping that programme of investment in the future.

"We’ve been given the funds to accelerate some important priorities, but what matters for us is the delivery, not just projects and concepts. It’s about making things happen.”

The Transport Committee will consider the evidence submitted by Midlands Connect and other regional bodies and write a report to the government with a set of recommendations to overhaul rail infrastructure investment, to which the government must respond.