Midland Metro expansion is 'unrealistic'

An extension of the Midland Metro through the Black Country using former freight lines is "unrealistic" and may not be delivered by 2026, a damning report has said.

An extension of the Midland Metro through the Black Country using former freight lines is "unrealistic" and may not be delivered by 2026, a damning report has said.

Inspectors who approved the Black Country Joint Core Strategy — a multimillion pound plan to provide 60,000 new homes and 300,000 square yards of retail space — said it was "not practical" to extend the Midland Metro service from Wednesbury to Stourbridge, which would link the network to the Merry Hill Shopping Centre.

The coalition government has given backing to the idea of councils raising the £289 million they need for the Metro extension by using Tax Increment Financing.

That would allow them to borrow the money based on the business rates they would eventually be able to collect because of the jobs the intended scheme would create.

But in their report planning inspectors Nigel Payne and Vincent Maher said: "The reinstatement of the Walsall to Stourbridge line for freight services is a national priority, fully supported by the industry to provide much needed additional capacity on the congested West Midlands network.

"However, it is not currently practical or viable to also introduce passenger rail services on this line and therefore unrealistic for the joint core strategy to include this long term aspiration in its transport proposals for the plan period, no matter how desirable.

"Similar considerations apply in respect of other prospective public transport improvement schemes as they should only be included if there are reasonable prospects of their being delivered within the plan period."

The inspectors also said that the current economic climate, including government spending cuts, means that little of the Black Country will change over the next six years.

They said: "We note the track record of delivery of new development projects across the Black Country over the last five years or so, including current commitments such as the Interchange at Wolverhampton.

"Nevertheless, given the present economic climate, the councils acknowledge that most of this additional office space will not come forward before 2016."

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Comments for: "Midland Metro expansion is 'unrealistic'"

John Bee

The area needs freight transport and not passenger. The Metro as it stands was never thought out properly.

Although it may carry a large number of passengers it is very unreliable.

It adds to the road congestion now by using some roadways within and around Wolverhampton.

Swan Lane crossing in West Bromwich is a danger without barriers or gates, one lady as already died there.

It should be scrapped and the money should be spent on improving the roads and creating a more integrated road passenger service.

Vehicles can divert when needed but the Metro comes to a stop when there is problem.

Better roads and better passenger transport service is the answer.


Metro 'unreliable'? I think you will find that it actually boasts 99.7% reliability - a bit more reliable than most of the region's trains.


As a Brummie who lives in Wolverhampton and takes the Metro into Birmingham and back six days a week i think the approved 127 million pound extension from Snowhill to New Street is a disgraceful waste of money.

To get to New Street from the Metro is a heathy five minute walk, but to get to Merry Hill from Wolverhampton on the bus is a nightmare.

This isn't about improving transport or creating jobs and wealth its all about prestige for Birmingham.

Birmingham should take advice from Edinburgh City Council and then maybe they will see that the money might be better spent elsewhere.


I do agree with your comments on the New Street extension however as I only travel to Birmingham by train I wouldnt use it anyway.

However, I agree whole heartedly with the expansion to the Merry Hill centre. Maybe if that was there people would perhaps visit there instead of the Bull Ring.

Although having been there recently I know which I'd rather use for my shopping, and it certainly isn't in Dudley.


Just make the bus network better, more reliable and cleaner!


A big way of doing that would be by taking cars off the road; to do that would need more trains or.... trams (that don't run on roads).

Steve Briscoe

What this means to people who live in the Dudley borough that they are being totally ignored by the powers that bee.

Dudley town needs a a railway link for tourism and regeneration

there is no jobs here has it is. All the money seems to go towards bham and wolverhampton fact

Friends of dudley town centre


The 127 million pound extension is not actually correct. The 127 million includes Centro purchasing a brand new fleet of tram vehicles. I am 99% certain that the current vehicles are leased, so this may save money in the long term. There is also a new depot extension involved so sorry matt but you are not aligning the 127 million correctly.

With regards to the Merry Hill / Stourbridge connection, this quoted figure is for tram-train and primarily involves the tram utilising the re-instated freight lines. So freight reinstatement is a primary objective of this scheme. The problem in the Midlands being the inability to improve road capacity in these areas due to land constraints. Old freight lines therefore lend themselves to tram AND train use as means of easing congestion.

Also, tram and rail freight are cleaner than cars and lorries when used correctly.


Unrealistic? Then what is the solution to the unbelievably insane levels of traffic? My God, this region just gets worse; tracks have been there for years, next to jam-packed roads that are at a stand-still, and still..they stick their heads in the sand and come up with potty 'red route' schemes through places like Great Bridge. You go to Europe, you get on a train or similar rail system..you come here, you routinely end up walking faster than using ANY form of public transport. We ARE a laughing stock.


Public transport is better in Europe because they pay for it through higher taxes.

If we want better public transport, vote for the politicians that say they'll deliver it like The Green Party.

However, at the last election only around 1% of people voted Green.

In other words we like whingeing about it, but don't want to pay for it.

You get what you vote for.


Id like to also add that barriers need to be put on the priestfield metro junction too as when you exit the car park the view from a car point of view is appalling and Im amazed there hasnt been a collision yet between a car and a tram.

Also I disagree I think the metro is a pretty reliable service after all its not been down that much over the years has it?


actually there has been a accident there , a fatal one at that a few years ago

Son Of Albion

Public transport in the west midlands will never compare to using a small, economical car. My car was off the road for about a week so I used the Metro into Wolverhampton - I was late most days, it cost more than the petrol I put in my car for a week, it was crowded and noisy. Now, I know there's traffic, but when you've got the radio on, the heater on and a comfy seat, beats the smelly, rip-off buses and unreliable, crowded, expensice Metro!


I think you've basically summed it up:

Car driving is too cheap

Public transport is too bad

Therefore if we want less traffic and better public transport -

increase parking charges and fuel tax massively and use the income on more bus lanes, newer vehicles and subsidised fares.


Quick example of this:

To get to my partners, its a journey on 2 busses due to where each of us live. £1.70 x 2 = £3.40

For £4 I can use a taxi which is A) Quicker, B) Safer, C) No waiting around for late busses in the cold D) No walks to/from bus stops...

... The list goes on!


I find your green-fascism terrifying!


Spend the money on having a free toll road, widening the M6 and giving the region a western by pass. This will free up the M5/M6 meaning those who avoid and use side roads to avoid congestion will use it once more. This in turn frees up the side road.

Stop trying to get people to use public transport because it isn't going to happen and for most its not possible. For me to get to work on public transport its will take 2 buses 3 trains and a taxi. Total journey time 3Hours 45 mins. Time in a car 40 mins. I wish the government would just accept that not everyone lives in London and that we HAVE to use our cars.

Johnny Dukes

Would it not be cheaper and quicker to turn the disused freight lines as bus lanes. Would it be cheaper to cover in tarmac and run a rus along the route?

No car's etc. allowed just a fleet of buses??

No need for tracks or power lines.... the service would be quick as it would not suffer congestion .... etc. etc.


Start saving up for a horse and cart.You'll get them quicker and they'll use less petrol.

tom @ tomsbusphotos.co.uk

Just to put my tuppance worth in.

One word to describe the metro atm - "SHOCKING"! Half the time folk get a free ride because there is no conductors on, no toilets.

How i love my train from The Hawthornes to Snow Hill and New Street - Wolvo! Ticket checks, toilets and even a HUMAN announcer on the train (unlike these computers on the metro that provide the voices!)