West Midlands Metro extensions ongoing despite service being suspended

Work to expand the tram network across the Black Country and Birmingham is continuing to progress despite services being suspended.

Work on the tramway continues, at Pipers Row, Wolverhampton
Work on the tramway continues, at Pipers Row, Wolverhampton

Midland Metro Alliance (MMA), which operates the West Midlands Metro, has been hard at work, with the focus on the aim of tripling the tram network.

One of those extensions will see the metro run from a junction near to the St George's stop in Wolverhampton, down Pipers Row and to the railway station.

There will be a stop at the city's bus station and at the railway station, which will allow a smooth "interchange" with all other modes of transport within the city.

Overhead wires have been installed on Pipers Row – and work is ongoing outside the station – in anticipation for the trams returning and the route finally opening.

It comes after a series of roadworks on the route with the right-hand turning into the city centre, past Wolverhampton Crown Court, being shut off for two years.

The move meant drivers had to journey through a loop round St George's Parade and Garrick Street if they wanted to head into the city centre until 2020, when it reopened.

Meanwhile a significant concrete pour took place in Dudley town centre last month, taking more than eight hours complete and involving six loads of concrete.

It follows on from the laying of track on one half of the busy route in February, with main construction works on the Wednesbury to Brierley Hill line progressing well. The route is expected to be opened up to passengers by 2024.

Tom Maplethorpe, MMA project director, said: "It was brilliant to celebrate a real-step forward for this project with last week’s concrete pour in Dudley and a similar pour for a structure in Sandwell. The team at both sites continue to work extremely hard to deliver this extension and I am sure that those in both Sandwell and Dudley will be excited to see the continued progress."

Meanwhile the West Midlands Metro extension linking Digbeth with Birmingham city centre is continuing through a £227 million project which will add four new stops to the network, with trams running from Bull Street in the city centre to Digbeth.

Later, once the extension is completed to Digbeth, it will be extended further eastwards to serve North Solihull and will terminate at the HS2 interchange station – allowing passenger access by metro to the airport, NEC and Genting Arena when it opens.

And another extension in Birmingham is progressing well along the city's so-called "golden mile" which will see the tram extended from the Library stop down Broad Street, Brindleyplace, Five Ways, and to Edgbaston.

Further testing and commissioning and driver training on the extension will continue through June and a start date for passenger tram services will be determined in due course, chiefs have said.

Metro chiefs have said the extensions will see the network triple in size through a £1.3 billion investment scheme spearheaded by the West Midlands Combined Authority and Transport for West Midlands.

And it will see the tram serve over 80 tram stops, more than 20 transport interchanges and link Wolverhampton, Birmingham, Dudley, Brierley Hill, Digbeth, North Solihull, Birmingham Airport, the NEC and HS2.

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