PLANS for extra trains between Hereford and Birmingham have moved onto the next stage.

Midlands Connect submitted the plans earlier this year, which is part of a bigger scheme across the West Midlands, to the Department of Transport and asked for an initial £25 million for an outline business case.

Those plans have now been included in a £3.5bn wider rail programme, Midlands Engine Rail, which looks at investment in the whole of the region.

Civic and business leaders are now calling on Prime Minister Boris Johnson to back Midlands Engine Rail and fund the next stage of its development, which would cost £45 million over the next three years.

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Sir John Peace, chairman of Midlands Connect and Midlands Engine said: "In the Midlands, more people are travelling on the railways than ever before.

"We now need investment from Government to allow our people, businesses and infrastructure to reach their full potential, and to drive a further boost in passenger numbers.

"My message to the Prime Minister is clear; it's time you made a long-overdue commitment to the future of our rail network."

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The plans, which would be delivered from 2022, would see more frequent services between Hereford, Ledbury and Birmingham, which would take 20 minutes less than they do currently.

The Marches Local Enterprise Partnership "wholeheartedly" support the plans.