Walsall and Black Country Metro tram link declared dead
A long-awaited Metro route linking Walsall with the Black Country has lost the support of the borough's council after bosses said it was 'pretty clear' the scheme was dead.
The proposed '5 Ws' line would take the trams from Wolverhampton, through Wednesfield, Willenhall, Walsall before reconnecting to the Birmingham line at Wednesbury.
But, while Centro funding has been made available for other transport schemes in the region over that period, the idea has never got off the ground.
Walsall Council has decided to drop support the scheme, deciding instead to back plans for new railway stations in Willenhall and Darlaston.
The decision to potentially withdraw support was discussed at a meeting last night.
Councillor Adrian Andrew, Deputy Leader for Walsall Council said: "It's pretty clear we're not going to get the 5Ws tram link.
"The Metro scheme was designed more than two decades ago but it's just too expensive and comes at a time when local authorities and public bodies no longer have access to that level of funding.
"What we are certain about is that we need to plan properly for our town centre and communities."
Walsall Council, along with other local authorities, has now asked for a review of all the Black Country Rapid Transit Routes.
Councillor Andrew added: "And so whilst the 5Ws scheme is pretty much on the back burner as far as we're concerned, we need to look at alternative ways of creating better links between our towns in the Black Country.
"One of the things we're looking at is reintroducing a passenger rail service between Walsall to Wolverhampton, and it is my proposal that we find a way to build new railway stations at Willenhall and James Bridge in Darlaston."
Centro created a draft route for the 5Ws route, providing two options for the line in each town. Some of the track would have followed the former railway line between Walsall and Wolverhampton.
In some areas, properties would have been demolished.
Centro spokesman Mark Langford said: "The Black Country Rapid Transit Review has been commissioned by the constituent local authorities to establish a network that best serves new and future developments and to help people get to where they need to go.
"We are awaiting this review to conclude what is required to deliver fast and effective connections between the main centres of the Black Country, to HS2 and other key locations such as the airport."
Councillor Phil Bateman, who represents Wednesfield North, said Walsall Council's decision was a 'shame'.
He said: "It's a shame if they are thinking like this.
"Clearly the development of the tram way has taken far longer than anyone expected, but going forward this will create great opportunities for towns and cities in the Black Country.
"This will happen as travel becomes a lot more expensive and people look for greener solutions."
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