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WMCA submits £200m Midland Metro expansion plans to DfT

Ambitious £200m plans to expand the Midland Metro network have been presented to the DfT.

Following Transport for West Midlands (TfWM) taking over the running for the service from National Express in March, mayor of the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) Andy Street and managing director of TfWM Laura Shoaf have formally given the plans to the transport secretary, Chris Grayling.

The business case proposes a new seven-mile extension of the tram network to the new DY5 Enterprise Zone at Brierley Hill.

Trams would run through Great Bridge, Horseley Heath, Dudley Port, Dudley town centre, the Waterfront and Merry Hill, before terminating at Brierley Hill town centre.

It makes up the first of a series of proposed extensions to the route which currently goes between Wolverhampton and Birmingham.

This will include extensions to Wolverhampton terminal as well as the new Curzon Street station, which will house HS2 when it starts running.

WMCA say they have ambitions to eventually link the Black Country to HS2 and make Dudley town centre a 40-minute journey from HS2 by tram.

“I said in my manifesto that starting work on this project during my first three years in office was a priority and securing the funding is the first step, which is why I wanted to see the Secretary of State so quickly,” said Street, the West Midlands mayor.

“It is hard to understate just how important this project is to the Black Country,” he added. “The business case shows that for every pound invested in this project, it will return £2.50 for the local economy.”

Street stated that the plans will be important to passengers by more than halving journey times from some of the stops along the route into central Birmingham.

“This is the start of the conversation about how as a region we can look at new ways of working with government to use new mechanisms of funding and finance to deliver transformational projects like this,” he concluded.

Cllr Roger Lawrence, lead member for transport for WMCA, said: “This is a major milestone for the Wednesbury-Brierley Hill extension and fantastic news for the people of Dudley, Sandwell and the wider West Midlands.

“Once this link is open it will connect key locations such as Merry Hill and Dudley town centre to the wider transport network for accessing the national rail network and HS2 and, eventually, Birmingham Airport.

“The Midland Metro is key to the WMCA’s plans to grow our economy, and this extension will help bring more jobs and greater prosperity not just to the Black Country but across the region as a whole.”

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James Miller   26/06/2017 at 15:40

I hope the West Midlands adopts a sensible ticketing system based on bank cards!

Jimbo   26/06/2017 at 17:16

This will be interesting to watch - will a city with a Tory mayor get their expansion plans approved, whilst ones with Labour mayors (eg. Manchester, London) have to wait?

Andrew Gwilt   26/06/2017 at 22:07

At least that's good for shoppers to get the tram and to travel to Westfield Merry Hill shopping centre as buses usually operates to & from Merry Hill.

Lee   27/06/2017 at 09:30

Jimbo, What exactly is Manchester waiting for? Construction of the Trafford Park extension is already underway, the second city crossing was recently opened, Airport services are due to start running into the city centre soon rather than terminating at Deansgate Castlefield, There are plans for Tram-train operation on the Glossop-Hadfield line, not to mention extension of the network (already the countries largest) from Manchester Airport to Altrincham to connect with the existing line from Manchester to form a southern loop. In the longer term, if the new mayor Andy Burnham gets his way, we may see expansion of the network to Wigan and Bolton, linking the last two of the ten GM Local Authorities on the metrolink network. In fact, Manchesters system has been built and expanded during Tory governments with Labour Councils sat in Manchester, Salford and Bury Town Halls, the only Tory council being Trafford, which has the Altrincham line running through it and the new Trafford Park extension.

Jimbo   27/06/2017 at 10:21

@Lee - Both Manchester and Liverpool mayors are pushing for HS3 to be built. Machester will also be pushing for more Metrolink expansions. In London, the mayor is pushing for Crossrail2 and devolution of surburban services. The current secretary of state for transport is a lot more politically minded than recent ones, and has been very quiet on answering these requests from Labour mayors. We now have a Conservative mayor in Birmingham, so it will be interesting to see whether the government is more open for a Conservative mayor. A key aspect of politics is rewarding those who got you into power. This is very prevalent in the US, butwWe haven't really seen much of that in this country. Nevertheless, with politics so polarised at the moment, that may change. This is just speculation on my part, and just to be clear, I don't agree with it - the government should be investing more in transport because the jobs it creates and therefore the taxes it generates far exceed the initial investment.

Noam Bleicher   27/06/2017 at 11:09

Why is the stop right next to Dudley Zoo not just called simply 'Dudley Zoo'? 'Castle Hill' is a bit anodyne and doesn't really let users, and people casually glancing at the map, that you will be able to get the tram to the zoo. Let's not pretend that the castle is Dudley's main attraction.

Nonsuchmike   28/06/2017 at 10:01

Perhaps people would have more confidence in Grayling if he added Epsom - at the heart of his own Constituency - to Oyster card train journeys Area 6, etc. Seems hypocritical at least and mean spirited at most not to. Otherwise, I am completely in favour of extending these transit routes whether under Labour, Tory or Little Green Man mayoralty.

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