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Work on £40m Midland Metro tram fleet to start in weeks

A multi-million pound project to replace the outdated Midland Metro trams is to begin within weeks – with the new fleet set to be delivered to the region next autumn.

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A multi-million pound project to replace the outdated Midland Metro trams is to begin within weeks – with the new fleet set to be delivered to the region next autumn.

Spanish manufacturer CAF will begin building the 25 new trams in October, according to transport authority Centro. The order will replace the current 16-strong fleet built in 1999 by Italian company AnsaldoBreda.

CAF will build the trams in Zaragoza under a £40 million deal. They will be 33 metres long compared with the current 24-metre trams.

The new vehicles will accommodate 200 passengers rather than the current 150.

Centro today revealed that the trams will begin being delivered to the West Midlands in autumn 2013.

But they will not be in use for another year as work will have to take place in Wednesbury to finish them off.

It will be a major operation to bring the trams into the region.

Each one will be delivered as it is ready. The trams will come separated into two parts carried on low-loader lorries.

They are due to be in use on the line between Wolverhampton St George's and Birmingham Snow Hill months before an extension to New Street via Bull Street, Corporation Street, and Stephenson Street is completed.

The total cost for the extension and new trams is £122m.

Ten jobs will be created by Spanish manufacturer CAF at the Metro depot in Potters Lane, Wednesbury.

Centro spokesman Steve Swingler said: "The trams will arrive in two pieces but they will be re-assembled in Wednesbury. Work will also need to be done on their communications systems."

By Daniel Wainwright

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