Light rail and trams

14.08.18

Up to 50 more battery-powered trams on the way for West Midlands

As many as 50 new battery-powered ‘Urbos 3’ model trams could be on the way for transport in the West Midlands as part of the combined authority’s £3.4bn investment in transport in the area.

Transport for West Midlands (TfWM), the transport branch of the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA), is tendering for 18 new trams, with the option to purchase a further 32 in future.

After a supplier is awarded the contract around May 2019, there will be a two-year design and development process. The new trams are expected to be in operation by summer 2021.

The battery-powered Urbos 3 models remove the need for overhead electrical wires, allowing engineers greater flexibility when constructing the new network extensions.

Currently, 21 Urbos 3 trams operate on the regional network. The first of those to be fitted with batteries went into operation in April. The other 20 existing trams are being retro-fitted with batteries to enhance passenger services.

Cllr Roger Lawrence, WMCA portfolio holder for transport and leader of the City of Wolverhampton Council, said the West Midlands is “leading the way on sustainable public transport” in the country.

He added: “We launched the UK’s first battery-powered tram earlier this year, and now we’re adding more to the network. We had to wait for the technology to catch up with our ambition – so we will retro-fit all our existing trams with batteries too.

“Eventually, this tender could treble the amount of trams operating on our network – potentially increasing our regional fleet from 21 to 71 trams – meaning more services and more stops as we extend the tram network for passengers across the West Midlands.”

TfWM is looking to procure a supplier with tried and tested fleets in operation elsewhere in the world.

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Image credit: WMCA

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