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TfWM to take over running of Midland Metro next year

Day-to-day running of the Midland Metro tram service will be taken on entirely by Transport for West Midlands (TfWM) from October 2018 when the current concession, which is held by National Express, ends.

The move has been implemented to enable TfWM, the transport arm of the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA), to invest its future profits back into expanding the network.

National Express staff working on the trams will be transferred to a newly set up subsidiary, Midland Metro Ltd, which is owned by WMCA, in anticipation for a number of line extensions that will see the network triple in size over the next decade – with forecasts projecting passenger numbers to increase from around 6.5 million to more than 30 million.

The works are expected to bring in the combined authority profits of £50m over the first 11 years, cash that will be channelled back into the network for the benefit of the local economy.

Cllr Roger Lawrence, WMCA lead for transport, commented that the metro was a fundamental part of future plans not just for transport, but for the West Midlands economy as a whole.

“It is a proven catalyst for economic growth and is critical to best connect and feed into HS2 so we can reap the maximum economic benefits possible from the high-speed rail line,” he said.

“That’s why Metro is embarking on an unprecedented period of expansion and we believe bringing services in house will provide the extra flexibility and adaptability needed to meet this exciting new chapter while generating millions of pounds for the benefit of passengers and taxpayers.”

Cllr Lawrence also thanked National Express staff for their work operating the trams as he said that passenger numbers had grown significantly and they had been nationally recognised for the high level of customer service they provide.

He added that transferring staff over from National Express would ensure existing skills and expertise were retained, helping to ensure the Metro’s 99% reliability and its other strengths were taken forward.

Laura Shoaf, managing director of TfWM, said that the end of the concession presented “an ideal opportunity” to change the way services were operated to better meet the needs of passengers, the wider community and ultimately the economy.

“If we didn’t do this and instead outsourced operations to a private company at a time of such major expansion then it would be extremely difficult to accurately define the scope of services required from the operator,” she explained.

“That would lead to continuous and expensive commercial negotiations to agree the price for the delivery of those network changes.

“While bringing operations in-house is not without risk we believe those risks are far outweighed by the advantages and that ultimately the move is good for passengers, good for taxpayers and good for the future prosperity of the West Midlands.”

Colin Saward, general manager of National Express Midlands Metro, expressed his disappointment at no longer running the contract.

“It’s disappointing we won’t get the chance to run the tram service when our current contract is up next year,” he stated. “But we appreciate TfWM’s reasons for taking services back in-house when the network is about to change so much.

“We will continue to work closely with TfWM to ensure a safe handover that is as smooth as possible for passengers and staff.”

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David   22/03/2017 at 20:44

I'm surprised that public sector organisations are allowed to turn a profit at all.

Andrew Gwilt   23/03/2017 at 08:51

The Midland Metro tram is to extend to Wolverhampton Railway Station and to interchange between tram and trains and even a bus interchange as well. But what about the extension to Westfield Merry Hill shopping centre and future extension to Birmingham International Airport and Coventry.

Andrew Gwilt   23/03/2017 at 09:31

Because (Westfield) Merry Hill shopping centre used to have its own transport which I believe it was a monorail that went from Waterfront East station to the shopping centre but some how it only operated for about 5 years until it closed completely as it operated from Summer 1991 to Early 1996 or Mid/Late 1996. With the possible extension to Waterfront West but that wasn't completed as it was the closed Monorail station to Round Oak station on the South Staffordshire line. Plus if the South Staffordshire line did still exist and trains were using the line to/from Birmingham New St/Moor St, Lichfield Trent Valley, Walsall and Wolverhampton and the current station-Round Oak that still existed then the Monorail could of extend to Round Oak station to interchange between Monorail and trains that once used before it was closed along with the South Staffordshire line and the monorail also closed. Maybe soon in the future-the Midland Metro could of extend to Merry Hill shopping centre and to Stourbridge Junction or Dudley via using the former South Staffordshire line if the extension does get the approval and the new interchange station-Round Oak is to be built with the spur tram line to Merry Hill (either elevated or underground). Along with other tram stops/stations to be built/reopened on the Midland Metro extension to Stourbridge Junction or Dudley.

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