The West Midlands Metro depot at Wednesbury is now seeing major expansion works to the infrastructure, set to accommodate for the increased fleet of trams, coming as part of a £43m redevelopment plan.
The works will see new extensions to the line in Birmingham and Wolverhampton city centres and a new line to Dudley town centre – which is currently under construction – meaning that a plethora of new trams are needed to operate on the growing network.
To house the new fleet of trams, on-site capacity will grow to more than double the size, accommodating the growing fleet of innovative Metro vehicles and allowing them to manoeuvre around the yard.
Infrastructural developments include the extension and workshop updates, including the maintenance facilities, a tram wash, a new operating centre, and improved staffing facilities to support the ever-growing workforce, including the 150 jobs that will be created through the depot expansion.
Of the 21 CAF Urbos 3 trams that were ordered by the WMCA, 11 have already been delivered, with the remaining 10 set to arrive later this year, ahead of the culmination of extension works between Wednesbury and Dudley in 2024.
This depot development is being led by Transport for West Midlands (TfWM), with construction being conducted by Midland Metro Alliance – the consortium responsible for delivering all West Midlands Metro infrastructure.
Construction is now underway, with space being cleared for the expansion of the yard and track, with the project being funded from the City Region Sustainable Funding Settlement awarded to the West Midlands last year.
Concurrent to the depot works, advanced construction of the junction which will link the existing line between Birmingham and Wolverhampton to the new line, is well underway, phase one of which will take services to Dudley town centre, with phase two to Brierley Hill to follow later.
Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands and WMCA Chair, said:
“We need more room to accommodate even more trams, so this depot extension is very welcome news.
“Construction crews are hard at work right across our region expanding our Metro network in Wolverhampton, Birmingham, Sandwell and Dudley and this depot extension helps us to meet the consequent uptick in demand that will result from the new extended network.
“Once complete, even more local residents and businesses – especially those in Dudley – will be able to benefit from a rapid, convenient and affordable alternative to the car for their journeys around the West Midlands.”
This growing Metro network will improve public transport availability for passengers, providing vital community links and removing barriers to transport related social exclusion. This growth in tram numbers will also reduce car use and traffic congestion, aiding in economic growth and helping to decarbonise the region.
Cllr Liz Clements, cabinet member for transport at Birmingham City Council, said:
“This investment is needed because the Metro network is growing and will have benefits across the West Midlands.
“We are already benefiting from that investment through the new extension to Edgbaston Village which, having opened last year, is already proving popular with those travelling to and from Broad Street and Brindleyplace – encouraging even more people to leave their cars at home when visiting Birmingham.”
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