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Dudley council looking to develop £25m ‘very light rail’ innovation hub

Dudley Metropolitan Borough Council have put forward a planning application on proposals to build a £25m ‘very light rail’ innovation hub.

The facility will be aimed at the development of new very light rail technology as an alternative to regular heavy rail travel and the traditional metro transport systems.

Research will look to investigate methods of reducing the weight and cost of both track and carriages, to improve the quality and efficiency of urban connections.

If given the green light, the centre will include a 2km twin test track with platforms, as well as a laboratory, engineering workshop, teaching rooms, and conference space.

The test track would be developed along a disused former rail line and the planning application for that part of the project has already been submitted, with a decision still to be determined.

Cllr Ian Kettle, cabinet member for planning and economic development at Dudley council, said the project would bring global benefits to the borough.

“This is one of the most exciting regeneration projects to take place in Dudley,” he commented.

“If given the go ahead the innovation hub will put Dudley at the forefront of the world’s development of very light rail technology. We will be able to market this as a product worldwide and significantly boost our opportunities to strengthen and grow our local economy.”

The council was allocated £18m of funding towards the project last year by the Black Country Local Enterprise Partnership, and has submitted an application to central government for the remaining £7m.

In total, the cost of the proposed work will reach around £28m with the inclusion of a foot bridge linking the building to the future metro line.

Commonwealth extension

In light of the recent announcement that Birmingham will be hosting the 2022 Commonwealth Games, Dudley council leaders have also sought to bring forward plans to extend the local Metro.

Proposals for the £250m extension would see the line run from the Brierley Hill station through to Wednesbury through Dudley town centre.

Cllr Patrick Harley, leader of Dudley council, said speeding up the extension would be extremely important in order to get visitors into the town.

He said: “We need to make it as easy as possible for visitors to get to Dudley, and to that end we will be pushing hard to get the Metro on track a bit quicker.”

Plans for the seven-mile line extension were signed off by the government earlier this year as part of a £250m funding package aimed at improving transport links across the West Midlands.

Top image: Dudley MBC

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Andrew Gwilt   09/01/2018 at 09:51

Brilliant news for jobs to be created at Dudley in the West Midlands. But would there be proposals for the tram line to be built to Westfield Merry Hill Shopping Centre from Dudley as there once used to be a monorail that served the shopping centre before it was demolished. And buses now serves the shopping centre on the outskirts of Birmingham.

GB   09/01/2018 at 11:04

Work will start in 2019 Andrew on extending the Midland metro from the current line at Wednesbury to Brierley Hill. The line will run via Dudley Port, Dudley town centre and the Merry Hill centre. Vegetation clearance has already taken place on the disused rail sections of the route.

R.Barlow   10/01/2018 at 14:28

I understood there was a requirement to maintain a through route for future freight traffic between Brierley Hill and Wednesbury. A twin test track taking up both alignments through Dudley tunnel would prevent this from happening?

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