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Funding boost for West Midlands Metro

The West Midlands Metro is to be handed a share of £56 million of Government funding to help services run normally as coronavirus restrictions are lifted.

Trams will be continuing to the end of the line in Birmingham city centre again

The cash has been handed to tram and other light rail services across the country to help them cope with the challenges brought by the pandemic.

They are expected to become more crowded as restrictions are lifted and more people return to offices and other workplaces.

West Midlands Mayor Andy Street said this week passengers on buses, trams and trains would be expected to continue wearing masks, particularly at busy times, despite the Government previously saying it would be up to individuals to decide.

Mr Street said: “Our West Midlands Metro service has operated throughout the pandemic and has seen patronage return very quickly each time restrictions have been lifted. This has shown just how important our trams are to commuters and our regional economy.

“It was critical therefore we got this latest funding from Government, and by being the longest funding package we have received so far it has given the West Midlands much-needed certainty.”

Transport Minister Baroness Vere said: “Light rail and tram services provide an essential service in our towns and cities, ensuring people can get to work, school or to see friends and family.

“This £56m funding package will allow operators to keep running these vital services as normal in those initial months as restrictions are lifted and passengers begin to return in higher numbers.”

Chief Secretary to the Treasury Steve Barclay said: “As our economy reopens, we’re continuing to support people and businesses – and making sure people can get to work and use public transport easily is crucial.

“Today’s funding means thousands of people across England can continue to travel on public transport when they need to, and regular services can continue as the country comes out of restrictions.”

The funding package will be the final tranche of Covid-related financial support to be given to the sector.

The Government said it had provided around £150m to operators to ensure services have continued to run throughout the pandemic.

The West Midlands Metro fleet was taken out of service last month for emergency repairs after cracks were discovered in carriages.

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