Workers start clearing disused track for new Midland Metro tram route

Work has begun to clear an overgrown derelict railway line which will become a new route for the Midland Metro tram service.

Weeds and trees are being removed so detailed surveys can be carried out
Weeds and trees are being removed so detailed surveys can be carried out

It will be built between Wednesbury and Brierley Hill on the former South Staffordshire Railway line, which closed to passengers in the 1960s.

Workers, subcontracted out by Midland Metro Alliance, have been clearing the tracks of plants and trees so structural and environmental surveys can be carried out.

Community leaders said the development will create ‘huge opportunities’ for jobs and tourism in the area.

The railway line, which saw trains stop running in the 80s, will offer new rail services to parts of the Black Country that currently don’t have one.

The route will be almost seven miles in length and will run from the Waterfront in Brierley Hill, past Dudley Castle and to Wednesbury Great Western Street.

MMA, which is working on behalf of the West Midlands Combined Authority, expects work on the route to begin in 2019 and to be open for passengers by 2023.

The cost of the project is not known yet. MMA will submit a business case to the Department for Communities and Local Government before it can find out. Funding will come from the Government.  Councillor Khurshid Ahmed, cabinet member for regeneration and enterprise for Dudley Council, said: “We’ve been working hard with partners to make this project happen as we are set to benefit significantly when the Metro rolls in. The improved transport links will create huge opportunities for jobs and tourism in the area.

“Therefore it’s great to see the project moving in the right direction and a commitment from all involved.”

Alejandro Moreno, MMA director, said: “We are very excited to begin work on this key route but before we can begin construction, we do need to carry out some preparatory work in order to decide what further works are required to prepare for construction.”

Stuart Everton, Black Country director of transport, added: “The start of construction of the line between Wednesbury and Brierley Hill is excellent news for the local economy, and will provide a significant boost to our regeneration plans for the region.

“It will also provide benefits both to residents across the region, by making it easier for them to get to jobs, and the national and international rail network.”

The WMCA believe the business case will be strong as it will have economic benefits and boost jobs and transport links.

In the long term, the authority says it will provide a direct link to the upcoming HS2 high speed rail link and Birmingham Airport.

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Comments for: "Workers start clearing disused track for new Midland Metro tram route"

Thomas

'Huge opportunities for tourism' ..... in Wednesbury!! Surely there is nobody stupid enough in this world to actually think that Wednesbury will attract tourists?

donthechain

Maybe not Wednesbury, but there is Dudley and the Black Country Museum. The tram will also help to get traffic off the roads. In the longer term there is the possibility of opening the whole route between Walsall (even Lichfield?) and Stourbridge Junction and it can also be used for freight traffic. Planners do need to take the long-term uses of the line into consideration.

TheMediaCrell

And how long would that take? They're committed to long-term alright: they've been stopping sustainable transport solutions in their tracks for decades..

Driver87

I'm all in favour of reopening former railways but converting them to light rail use does limit there use to trams and passengers only, where heavy rail is more versitile and could handle heavey loads.

Tim Weller

Would it not enable the four Black Country boroughs to compete more effectively with the honeypot that is Birmingham, if we completed the 120 Km Black Country Railway between Worcester and Derby, in one go? This would enable the freight and passenger trains to return over the full length straightaway and, put Dudley back on the national railway network. With an additional main line strategic railway for Sandwell and Walsall.

This is the ultimate aim, we are told, anyway. Scotland showed us the way in 2015 with their 49 Kms reopened for passenger trains without having to do the trams, first. Yet, this is what we are told must be done in our case. I think they are lying to us or, deceiving themselves in their obsession with trams replacing trains and Platinum/hybrid buses.

The six minutes frequency of trams, in peak times, on one set of double tracks means that 25 waggon freight trains would be unable to be extended northwards where the slow, frequent stopping trams are. Yet, the councillors and transport bosses insist that only by doing trams and, later, tram trains first can the freight and passenger trains then return. But only by the 2040s, at the earliest and only in the case of freight!!

And the 120 Km Black Country Railway will be needed for freight even more urgently once the passenger trains and stations return to the 39 Kms of Brum freight only lines. How typical. Brum gets HS2, trams on roads to replace diesel buses, AND their passenger trains and stations back. We get stuck with very flash, very slow, very expensive, frequent stopping, "bus on rails" trams that stop commuter and intercity trains returning - forever. And, the £1.2 billion all goes for the Metro trams, too. Nothing for trains, still, except HS2 (that is of no help to us in the Black Country) but it gets £55.7 billion!!

Tim Weller

JJ

Too little too late. All these extensions and extra routes should have been built on day one. The metro is underused because the single route they built only goes between 2 cities that were already served by a regular high speed train service. If the extra routes/destinations were built from the start they've have been more popular and they'd have more money to spend on new routes. We'd have a whole network build by now but we dont.