Transport in the Midlands

Traditionally the Midlands have had the best transport routes in the country as a result of its geographical position. With it being the most easily accessed region from anywhere else in the United Kingdom, it has always made sense that all major routes run through the region.

The River Trent flowing past Nottingham Forest FC

The area has always been well serviced by the rivers and early forms of transport involved making the use of the Trent, the Severn, the Derwent and other major waterways that flowed naturally through the region. However, the onset of the Industrial Revolution meant that industries needed to transport their goods large distances.

Before the invention of the steam engine the use of water was ideal as it gave a smooth journey and power could be accessed by using animals, such as horses, to pull the boats. The only problem was while the rivers reached certain locations, they were unable to access others.

Man overcame this by building artificial channels known as canals. Changes in gradient were overcome with the building of locks and heavy raw materials could be transported cheaply. The Midlands, in particular, became the home to many canals as the Trent and Mersey, the Birmingham and the Grand Union were just a few of the waterways that were built.

As the industrial revolution gathered pace, the invention of the steam engine saw the methods of transport being revolutionized. The emergence of the train saw train tracks being located up and down, as well as from side to side across the country. The desire to attach the north of the country meant that the lines were naturally crossing the Midlands.

New stations started to be created in the major industrial towns and cities. Birmingham has three railway stations and in New Cross it has the busiest station in the United Kingdom outside of London serving 5.8 million passengers each year. No station in the country serves more destinations and there are a wide variety of train services radiating from the city.

For a number of years, the economy of the region was reliant on the trains moving both passengers and freights in and out of the region. Then came the development of road transport and the area has been as well served by road as it has by track.

First the A roads appeared, and it was the same pattern emerging as it was with the rail. Roads were built such as the A38 and the A1 connecting the north and the south together, but they were also equally servicing the Midlands. The emergence of the motorways from 1960 saw the region becoming even closely linked with other areas of the country.

Spaghetti junction

The area has several motorways passing through it, the M5, the M40, the M1 and the M6 serving the large numbers of car traffic that passes through the Midlands each day. Birmingham is home to Spaghetti Junction which is situated at the Gravelly Hill interchange on the M6 motorway. At this point the A38, the A38 (M), the A5127, plus several other unclassified local roads descend on the junction making it appear like a bowl of spaghetti.

Another interesting road in the region is the M6 toll road. This runs between the M^ junction (3) and Wolverhampton, for a distance of 27 miles. Although the distance is brief it bypasses the Birmingham rush hour traffic which at certain periods of day is extremely congested.

The region is now supported by two main international airports. The largest is the Birmingham airport which is only located 5 miles towards the south-east of the city. In 2017 the airport carried almost 13 million passengers to different parts of the world making in the 7th busiest airport in the United Kingdom.

The 13th busiest airport is the East Midlands airport which is located in between Leicester, Derby and Nottingham. It carried nearly 5 million passengers in 2017 and it operates flights to other UK cities plus some European destinations.

The midland is at the centre of a wide variety of transport networks which makes it one of the most accessible areas in the country.