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Wolverhampton Interchange cost swells by £23m

By Pete Madeley | Wolverhampton | News | Published:

The cost of revamping Wolverhampton railway station and the city's Metro extension has rocketed by more than £23 million, it can be revealed.

An artist's impression of the revamped train station, which is expected to be completed by early 2019.

Wolverhampton council had set aside £51.8m for the two key elements of the huge Interchange project, but bosses say the figure has spiralled due a number of 'unexpected' costs.

They include an ongoing legal dispute with the Government over the demolition of the steam mill in Horseley Fields, and ballooning construction costs for the railway station and its car park.

It comes as a new £3.4 billion transport blueprint for the region - that includes improved connections from Wolverhampton to the i54 - was given the green light by the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA).

The city's finance chief Andrew Johnson says the authority has been forced to look for new funding for the interchange scheme, but insisted it will continue to go ahead as planned.

A report to the council's cabinet says the overall costs of the project are now 'estimated to be up to approximately £75 million' - a rise of 45 per cent.

The additional £23.2m includes £1m to demolish the steam mill, 'higher than expected' construction costs for the station and its car park, costs for a ticket machine and gating system, and additional legal and professional fees.

Additional costs associated with 'unforeseen rail industry compliance requirements' are also listed in the report, including a dispute with the Government, which owns 50 per cent of the land on Corn Hill where the steam mill was based.

Mr Johnson said: "We are trying to obtain further grants to cover the additional costs. We are creating sufficient cover in our capital budget programme in order to allow it [the Interchange] to proceed.

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"It is important that we create that headroom. We need to make sure the Interchange proceeds as it is so vital to the city."

The council has already agreed to borrow £15m to make up some of the shortfall.

Initially the authority had hoped to contribute just £1m to the project, which has been bankrolled by the Black Country Local Growth Fund (£13.5m), the Department for Transport (£21.9m) and the HS2 Connectivity Programme (£12.4m).

In the report it is noted that the council 'could decide to stop progression of this scheme due to the increased costs', however, it says that such a move would 'have a detrimental impact on the economic growth of the city and on future private sector investment'.

The work is part of the wider city Interchange project - initially slated to cost £132m - that the council hopes will breathe new life into Wolverhampton.

Pete Madeley

By Pete Madeley
@P_Madeley_Star

Political Editor for the Express & Star. Responsible for local and national political stories, opinion, comment and analysis.

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