There are calls to improve rail services linking Crewe, Stoke and Derby.
The three main chambers of commerce along the route, and a coalition of private and public sector partners, have written to Transport Secretary Chris Grayling MP calling for him to help deliver increased capacity, reduced journey times, improved frequency and fully accessible stations on the route.
Firms and supply chains located close to the route include Steelite, JCB, Rolls-Royce, Bombardier, Toyota and Nestle, all of which would benefit from improved connectivity.
Supporting these businesses, the local authorities, local enterprise partnerships and higher education institutions along the line have demonstrated ambitious plans for growth, backed by public and private sector investment.
“Stakeholders are alive to the agglomeration and productivity benefits presented by better connectivity and are already actively pursuing opportunities for closer working,” the letter said.
It added: “Central to realising this ambition is a strong, reliable railway connecting the three city hubs and those who live and work in these areas.
“The line, as referenced in the Department for Transport’s recent bidder shortlist announcement, has seen huge growth in customer patronage over recent years, putting huge pressure on the service.
“Lack of available rolling stock nationally has unfortunately meant there is no quick fix and the lack of investment in infrastructure improvements has meant limited evening and weekend services.”
Sara Williams, Chief Executive at the Staffordshire Chambers of Commerce, said: “Businesses rely on good transport links and this initiative will have massive benefits. If we can improve the rail service between Crewe, Stoke-on-Trent and Derby, we will help people to access jobs, help businesses find the skills they need, foster trade, encourage tourism and unlock new economic development opportunities. The service needs to be faster, more frequent and have more carriages to meet the increasing demand on the route, as well as helping to ease congestion on our roads network.”