Last Thursday, Transport Times organised the inaugural The Midlands Transport Summit, welcoming over 130 delegates to KPMG's Snowhill offices in Birmingham. With delegates attending from across the region, the one day conference brought key industry figures together to discuss the challenges in the transport sector in the Midlands right now, and going forward.
Transport Times Chief Executive Prof. David Begg, who chaired two sessions during the day, announced that he was to award three honours to individuals who are making a real difference to Transport in the region.
Transport for West Midlands Managing Director Laura Shoaf received her award for 'Outstanding Contribution to Transport in the Midlands' (sponsored by Hitachi-Bombardier Joint Venture) ahead of her closing keynote speech. Laura became Strategic Director for Transport for the West Midlands Integrated Transport Authority in 2015 and then in June 2016 was appointed Managing Director of TfWM. She is responsible for key initiatives across the metropolitan area such as Midlands Connect, the HS2 Connectivity Package and the region's Strategic Transport Plan. She is also responsible for delivering a £4billion transport package over the next 10 years underpinning economic regeneration in the West Midlands. She liaises closely at senior level with Government departments including the DfT and Treasury and also brokers partnerships with agencies such as Highways England and Network Rail, influencing the national agenda for the benefit of the West Midlands.
Maria Machancoses, director of Midlands Connect, who gave an impassioned opening keynote address at the conference was also recognised for her commitment to improving transport across the entire region. During her speech she delivered a call to action "If you care about the Midlands, its economic success, the life chances of its 10 million residents, and if you believe in better transport connections as an agent of change, then join us, back our Midlands Rail Hub plans, and let the government know that we're a region that can no longer be ignored. Help us build that momentum until there is nothing that can stop us." Maria has been instrumental in the success and development of Midlands Connect since helping to set up the partnership in 2014. Maria has also worked as Director of the Midlands Engine and managed the West Midlands Integrated Transport Authority's input into the HS2 Hybrid Bill.
Finally, MP for Nottingham South and Chair of the Transport Select Committee Lilian Greenwood was also honoured with an Outstanding Contribution to Transport award (sponsored by VIX Technology). Unfortunately due to unexpected parliamentary business Lilian was unable to attend to collect her award and so will receive it in person in due course. In 2011 Lilian became Shadow Local Transport Minister, before moving on to the role of Shadow Rail Minister in January 2013. Lilian was promoted to the Shadow Cabinet in September 2015, becoming Shadow Secretary of State for Transport, and retained the Transport brief until her resignation in June 2016. During this time Lilian campaigned successfully for the widening of the A453 and extensions to Nottingham's tram network, and has been a strong advocate for electrification of the Midland Main Line.
Since July 2017 Lilian has been Chair of the Transport Select Committee where she remains committed to ensuring that the needs of all transport users are addressed, particularly those whose voices are least heard by decision-makers.
Prof. David Begg was pleased to announce that The Midlands Transport Summit will become an annual event and will return in 2020. Further details including the date will be announced in due course.