Latest Rail News

04.10.16

WMCA seeks DfT approval for £137m HS2 station tram extension

Proposals for an extension that will incorporate Birmingham’s HS2 station at Curzon Street into its tram network are due to be submitted to the DfT for approval.

At a meeting yesterday, the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) Transport Delivery Committee was asked to approve the submitting of an application for the Midland Metro Birmingham Eastside Extension (BEE) to transport secretary Chris Grayling.

The BEE will run services every six minutes from the junction of Bull Street and Corporation Street to a stop on Albert Street, which will serve the proposed Martineau Galleries Phase 2 development and the HS2 Curzon Street station west entrance.

The next stop, on New Canal Street, will be located under the station and serve its east entrance. It will then run to Meriden Street before terminating at High Street Digbeth.

The WMCA report estimates that the project will cost £137.2m. This sum includes £8.4m for preparatory works, £89.5m for the development work, and £29.5m for the seven new trams for the services, which will be procured as part of a network-wide “3rd Generation” new fleet.

The funding has already been allocated through the region’s 2014 Growth Deal and its Devolution Deal, of which £5.5m has already been provided to the WMCA.

Allowing for ‘optimism bias’, the WMCA says the project could cost up to £158.8m, with the extra money having to be raised locally.

It says the extension “will take Metro forward into a network operating mode, rather than the current single line operation” and requires interconnecting services between the Wolverhampton, Edgbaston and Eastside termini.

Under the proposals, the WMCA is currently anticipating a local public inquiry into objections to the project in spring 2017.

It admits that work on the project will cause a number of issues, including traffic disruption, noise, air pollution and greenhouse gas pollution. However, it says these will not be significant, and are outweighed by the project’s long-term benefits, including better links to HS2 and bus and coach services and a boost to the city’s economy and sustainable travel.

If the proposals are given the green light, the government order will come into force in spring 2018 and the WMCA will submit a final business case in the summer. Utility diversions will then begin in 2019 and the extension will open in 2023.

Phase 1 of HS2 is due to open in 2026, but a recent report from the National Audit Office warned that the high-speed rail project is already behind schedule and could miss its target date.

A new Midland Metro service from Bull Street to New Street station and the Grand Central shopping centre started running in May after being delayed due to safety concerns.

Grayling’s predecessor, Patrick McLoughlin, overruled objections by the planning inspector to allow the Midland Metro link between Birmingham New Street and Centenary Square to go ahead.

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Comments

Lutz   04/10/2016 at 12:33

Quite frankly, it is beyond belief that the HS2 terminus is not at New Street - exactly where that upgraded shopping centre sits. Yes it would have been extra expensive, but a disjointed transport system is just a failure before it gets to to the start line.

Manchester Mike   04/10/2016 at 14:21

Good to see that WMCA has been doing some joined up thinking in planning for the tram extension.

Jerry Alderson   04/10/2016 at 17:31

Just before the extension to New Street station opened Centro gave me (and others) a guided walk of the line. We were told that the concrete foundations of the junction for the HS2 branch has already been built and covered over with tarmac. Very sensible - avoids a lot of disruption to the tram later on as only the points will be needed. No wires as batteries will be used (low bridge below the railway apparently).

Barry Matthews   05/10/2016 at 11:26

Yes we need this as part of the economic expansion of Birmingham City Centre and the Further Education agenda, outside the small area around New St and Snow Hill. It is also necessary in the future to recognise that a return to more public transport has to be the answer. However the City Highways planners need to plan for continued car usage until all the new public transport routes are in place over the next 10 years and especially during the congestion whilst building is completed eg Moor St.

Andrew Gwilt   10/10/2016 at 12:49

Midland Metro could also be planned to have extensions to Dudley and to Westfield Merry Hill shopping centre as it could also be planned to be extended to Stourbridge even though there is a shuttle train service that serves Stourbridge with a (Stourbridge Junction-Town shuttle service) which runs 5 days a week and on Saturdays.

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