New calls for Willenhall-Walsall-Wolverhampton tram train
Calls have been made to introduce a tram train service connecting Willenhall to Walsall and Wolverhampton, with it being claimed that the move would be a business boost for the town.
Councillor Ian Shires, who represents Willenhall North, says his Liberal Democrat team are pressing the newly formed West Midlands Combined Authority to build a station in the town after it was declared last year that the long mooted '5 W's' metro link, connecting the town to the rest of the Black Country, was 'dead'.
A tram trains is a form of light rail which is much lighter than regular trains and can use both tram tracks and railway tracks, allowing the two networks to be connectd.
Councillor Shires said: "A move to tram trains on the line through Willenhall would reduce costs and add more flexibility.
"The tram train concept would improve connectivity making Willenhall an attractive place for business to invest and people to come to live whilst at the same time providing new job opportunities for Willenhall workers.
"It isn't easy to get around the area at the minute and this could really help that, which then leads on to better job prospects for those living in the town.
"Improving the areas infrastructure is also positive way of helping regenerate the area.
"Tram trains would add to the work already being done on the electrification of the heavy rail network north of Walsall which in itself has opened up the very real possibility of links to London and the North.
"Add this to the injection of cash to improve Junction 10 of the M6 where work is due to start by 2018 prospect for our area are looking positive."
Councillor Shires also claimed that a feasability study is currently being carried out by Centro in relation to the idea, saying that it is his belief that the tram trains, which are much lighter than regular trains, makes it a lot easier to implement when compared with calls that have been made in the past for a train station to be built in the town.
He pointed to the success of the system in Germany and current trials in Sheffield as key indicators that the plan could work.
He said: "The concept has been used successfully in Karlsruhe, Germany since 2004 allowing for a seamless transition from an inner-city tram-trip to a regional train journey."
"Trials for a tram train system are already taking place between Sheffield and Rotherham so it isn't just a pipe dream and could be a very cost effective way of bringing the growing tram network in Birmingham and the Black Country to Willenhall, Walsall and Aldridge."