Express & Star

£60 million funding boost for Wednesbury to Brierley Hill Metro line in Budget

A major Black Country Metro extension will be delivered "in full" after a £60 million Government funding boost.

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Work is underway at Castle Hill on the Metro extension through Dudley, which has received a £60m funding boost

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt announced the cash in his Budget for the Wednesbury to Brierley Hill line, as part of a new £1.5billion devolution deal for the region.

The second phase of the scheme from Dudley to the Merry Hill centre had been mothballed with inflation and supply chain pressures blamed for a funding shortfall of up to £200m.

Now bosses say the £60m boost puts them in a "strong position" to secure the rest of the funding needed to complete the entire 6.8-mile, 14-stop route.

Council leaders on the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) are expected to sign off on the completion of the line at a meeting in June.

Bosses hope a £60m funding boost will act as a springboard to complete the Metro extension through Dudley

It could see work starting on the Merry Hill embankment – the major element of phase two of the project – later this year.

West Midlands Mayor Andy Street said: "A number of public infrastructure projects are facing understandable cost challenges given the prevailing winds of inflation and supply chain pressures.

"Metro extension schemes are also subject to this wider context so we took the difficult decision last year to pause work on phase two whilst retaining our commitment to delivering the scheme in full.

"In our subsequent efforts to seek out the necessary funding, our newly negotiated devolution deal has provided a breakthrough. This additional £60 million from Government acts as a springboard for the completion of the scheme as it now puts us in a strong position to secure the remaining funding required to get this extension finished at the earliest opportunity."

Dudley South MP Mike Wood said the extension would have a positive knock-on effect for communities across the Black Country.

He said: "This will make a big difference – not only to towns like Brierley Hill and Netherton that are on the new line – but for the new homes that it makes possible on brownfield sites will relieve the pressure on our green spaces, and the investment it will attract will benefit the whole area.

"Now we just need the Combined Authority board to do their bit and give the line the final go ahead."

The Metro extension through Dudley has received a £60m funding boost in the Budget

Dudley Council leader Patrick Harley said: "This allows us to pull in funding from other areas, meaning the project will be completed in full to Brierley Hill.

"It got to the point where it would have cost more money to cancel the project than to complete it. Now we can focus on not just regenerating Dudley town centre, but the rest of the Metro corridor.

"Let's be clear, without the intervention of Andy Street this would not be happening."

The first phase of the extension, which runs through Tipton to Dudley town centre, is expected to open next year.

Meanwhile the Chancellor also announced £22.5m in levelling up cash for the regeneration of Tipton town centre, while Bilston got £20m for a health village.

Both schemes had previously been rejected for cash from Levelling Up Fund.