Latest Rail News

01.09.17

Midland Metro extension work to start ‘within weeks’ as DfT funds secured

The Midland Metro expansion that will link Birmingham city centre with Edgbaston has been given the green light by government after the project’s funding was formally confirmed.

The 2km-long extension, which forms the last stretch of the tram network’s Line 1, will receive almost £60m from the DfT alongside around £84m of locally-raised money from the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA), Birmingham City Council, Birmingham & Solihull LEP and other partners.

When opened in 2021, it will be made up of five stops – Town Hall, Centenary Square, Brindley Place, and two further ones either side of the Five Ways roundabout in Edgbaston – served by 10 trams an hour at peak times.

Preliminary groundworks started this summer, but now that final funding has been confirmed major works are due to get underway “within weeks”.

Parts of the route will be built without overhead lines to limit this impact on Birmingham’s historic city centre. To compensate for this, trams will be fitted with hi-tech batteries to ensure they can run on their own power.

Visiting the route yesterday, rail minister Paul Maynard met with deputy West Midlands mayor Cllr Bob Sleigh OBE and Transport for West Midlands MD Laura Shoaf.

“Midland Metro is already a success story, with passenger journeys up nearly a third this year compared to last year. This new extension will be a further boost to Birmingham businesses, and make travelling to work easier for commuters,” Maynard said during his visit.

“But just as importantly, it will help ease the pressure on the roads as it will provide an alternative for getting in and out of the city centre. This is a vital project and one which we are delighted to be able to support.”

In a document from 2014, the Birmingham & Solihull LEP explained that the project formed an essential part of the ‘HS2 connectivity package’ designed to exploit the potential of the incoming high-speed line.

“If funding is not secured the very significant existing and potential new commercial development sites in the Edgbaston area will suffer from poor connectivity to the National Rail network and the regional labour pool and be disadvantaged compared to other areas of the city centre with better connectivity,” the document had warned.

The New Street station-Edgbaston extension will link key areas served by the city centre and provide interchange opportunities to connect with HS2 Curzon Street station and Birmingham Airport.

Cllr Sleigh added yesterday that WMCA is delighted that government funding is now in place to secure the extension.

“The metro is a real success story for this region and that will continue as new routes are rolled out over the next few years across Birmingham and the Black Country,” he continued. “It is not just these areas that will benefit though as the Metro is key to the WMCA’s vision for strategic growth and regeneration across the West Midlands, bringing huge benefits to everyone who lives and works here.”

(Top image, left to right: Metro programme director for TfWM Phil Hewitt; Paul Maynard MP; Laura Shoaf; Cllr Bob Sleigh; and Midland Metro Alliance director Alejandro Moreno)

Comments

Andrew Gwilt   04/09/2017 at 03:02

What about the extension to Westfield Merry Hill shopping centre either extended on ground or above ground or a new tunnel to be built so trams can go underground and terminate at Merry Hill shopping centre and with a brand new loop line to connect onto the exciting tram line to/from Wolverhampton. Will that ever happen?

Peter Jarvis   05/09/2017 at 15:06

The trams in Bordeaux run through the town centre without overhead wires on an induction system with pads between the rails. It seems to work well. Would it be worth considering as an alternative to carrying batteries?

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