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Independent review into West Midlands tram failures to be set up

An independent review is set to be launched after the West Midlands Metro service was brought to a halt last week.

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Tram stops around the West Midlands currently stand quiet

Cracks were discovered, causing an initial four-week suspension of the service with repairs needing to be carried out "as quickly as possible".

The West Midlands Combined Authority's (WMCA) oversight of the Metro services will be scrutinised via an independent review conducted by Transport for West Midlands.

The review was prompted by West Midlands Mayor Andy Street, and will be carried out by an industry expert to ensure the right structures are in place to hold both Metro delivery and operations to account.

It comes after it emerged that cracks were first found in a Metro tram nearly two years ago.

Mayor Andy Street, said: “The situation with the Metro is incredibly disappointing and frustrating, and so on behalf of passengers I have asked for an independent review to establish what exactly has gone wrong and what changes need to be made in how those in authority are held to account to ensure we avoid this ever happening again.

“It is such an unsatisfactory situation, but I am determined to stand up for passengers and get their questions answered and the Metro back in service ASAP.”

Midland Metro Limited is still aiming to resume services within four weeks but bosses have not ruled our the possibility of the suspension running beyond Christmas

Councillor Ian Ward, WMCA portfolio holder for transport and leader of Birmingham City Council said: “The tram is an essential and valued part of our regional transport network.

"However I have had serious concerns about the metro construction for some time so welcome the independent review.

“The passengers and businesses have been badly let down and we owe it to them investigate this fully.”

A West Midlands Transport Delivery Committee meeting last week revealed the same model tram which has halted the Midlands Metro has failed elsewhere in the world.

The Spanish-made CAF trams have been widely criticised in Sydney, with all 12 of the CAF model taken out of service in the Australian city.

Experts believe it could be 18 months before the issue is resolved in Australia, but West Midlands Metro is hoping for a much quicker resolution.

Speaking at the committee, Councillor Chris Burden, said: "If you look all around the world at other systems then it is very rare for just one type of tram to be used.

"Normally there are two or three different types of trams so if what happened this weekend with the cracks happened then the entire fleet would not be stopped.

"It seems as though we have put all our eggs into one basket."

In the New Year eight brand new trams, which are currently going through calibration and testing, are expected to go into service.

Council bosses on the WMCA are hoping that a skeleton service can begin before Christmas.

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