£250m boost for West Midlands transport, including long-awaiting Brierley Hill Midland Metro link
A £200 million Metro extension to Brierley Hill and Wednesbury was today due to be given the go-ahead by the Prime Minister as she visited the region.
Theresa May is set to announce that plans for the seven-mile line to Brierley Hill and Wednesbury has been signed off by the Government as part of a quarter of a billion pound funding package to improve transport links across the West Midlands.
The Prime Minister is set to make the announcement during a visit to the EEF Technology Hub in Birmingham, where she is unveiling a national fund of £1.7 billion to boost transport – the Transforming Cities Fund – alongside plans to boost spending on research and development by £80bn over the next 10 years.
Speaking ahead of Wednesday’s Budget, Mrs May said: “One of my first actions as Prime Minister was to begin the development of a modern industrial strategy that will help businesses to create high-quality, well paid jobs right across the country.
“This is a new long-term approach to shaping a stronger and fairer economy for decades to come.
“It helps young people to develop the skills they need to take up the high-paid, high-skilled jobs of the future. Our Industrial strategy will propel Britain to global leadership of the industries of the future, seizing the big opportunities of our time – from Artificial Intelligence and Big Data to clean energy and self-driving vehicles.”
Funding for the Midland Metro extension has been one of the key aims of the region’s Conservative mayor, Andy Street, who has been joined by Black Country MPs including Dudley South MP Mike Wood and the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) in pushing the Government for the cash.
The route will run along part of the former South Staffordshire railway line and will see the tram stop at spots including Merry Hill, Dudley bus station and Dudley Zoo and castle.
Work is set to start in 2019, with the line set to be open to passengers in 2023.
Mr Street welcomed the news today, tweeting: "The extension of the Midland Metro from Wednesbury to Brierley Hill has been a long time coming. This announcement means Dudley and Brierley Hill will be connected to the rail network for the first time since the 1960s."
Another tweet said: "This scheme is shovel-ready, meaning we can crack on with delivering this vital piece of infrastructure for the people of Dudley and Sandwell."
Mr Street added: “The Midland Metro extension to Brierley Hill is the WMCA’s priority transport project and the £250m from government means we can get under way.
“The importance of this extension is difficult to understate. It will open up sites for housing and regeneration and reconnect Dudley and Brierley Hill to the rail network for the first time in decades.
“Perhaps most importantly, it connects the DY5 Enterprise Zone to the network and supercharges proposals to create thousands of jobs in Brierley Hill.
“This has been a long time coming - many decades in fact - but because of the WMCA presenting a compelling case to Government, we are finally able to start work, subject to board approval.”
Mr Grayling said: “Investment in transport is crucial to a strong and resilient economy. The Transforming Cities Fund will drive productivity and growth in cities where this is most needed, connecting communities and making it quicker and easier for people to get around.
“We have already seen the impact of better integrated transport links for both passengers and the local economy in cities like Nottingham and Manchester. This new fund will enable more English cities to reap these benefits, helping to deliver the opportunities and ambition of the Industrial Strategy across the country, as well as driving forward the Northern Powerhouse and Midlands Engine.”