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Next stage of Midland Metro opens after delays

Trams began running across the centre of Birmingham yesterday on the extended Midland Metro, after the launch was delayed due to safety concerns.

The first Midland Metro trams, which ran from Bull Street to New Street station and the Grand Central shopping centre via Stephenson Street, began running at 8am yesterday.

The trams were originally due to start running on 22 May, but the launch was delayed after a safety inspection identified track alignment concerns.

Cllr Richard Worrall, Metro member for the West Midlands Integrated Transport Authority delivery committee, which oversees the delivery of the tram extension via Centro, said: “It's wonderful to see the Metro running all the way between Wolverhampton Birmingham New Street.

“It's obviously great news for Birmingham - but also for the wider West Midlands. This extension is expected to create more than 1,300 sustainable new jobs and boost the regional economy by more than £50 million a year.”

James Aspinall, managing director of Centro, said £1.2bn would be invested in the network over the next 10 years to build new extensions to Wolverhampton, Edgbaston, Brierley Hill, the HS2 station and the NEC/Airport.

Mike Reade, a director at Balfour Beatty, which built the extension, said: “We are delighted to join Centro and Birmingham City Council in celebrating the completion of the Birmingham City Centre Extension.

“This complex and challenging project has demanded collaborative work across the entire team and is a significant milestone for Birmingham.

“We look forward to supporting the continued investment in the infrastructure of the West Midlands to improve connectivity and support economic growth.”

Midland Metro has seen a 23% growth in passengers since services began running to Bull Street in December.

Work has already begun extending the route from New Street Station to Centenary Square, with services, featuring the UK’s first battery-operated trams, expected to start running in 2019.

The network is also set to be extended along Broad Street, past Five Ways and on to Edgbaston by 2021, and to the HS2 station and High Street Deritend by 2023.

(Image c. Centro)

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