West Midlands Metro: Bosses should have 'bought British' says former minister

Issues with trams on the West Midlands Metro network would have been easier to deal with if the region had "bought British", a former transport minister has said.

Tram services are currently suspended in the West Midlands
Tram services are currently suspended in the West Midlands

John Spellar MP said the Department for Transport and regional transport bosses should have assembled a British-made tram fleet rather than relying on vehicles made abroad.

It comes after the entire service was suspended for at least four weeks due to cracks being found on Spanish-made CAF trams.

The suspension contributed to travel chaos around the region on Saturday, with trains packed and roads gridlocked due to shoppers, Christmas lights switch-on events and football matches taking place.

It has also emerged that a tram was first taken out of service due to cracks nearly two years ago.

Mr Spellar, Labour MP for Warley, said: "There is no doubt that when cracks first appeared they should have looked at the situation very seriously.

"But that is the problem if you have a fleet made abroad. That's why they should have bought from a British firm in the first place.

"That would have enabled them to work with the manufacturers much more easily. For example, it is much easier to get across to Derby and sort it out with Bombardier than all the time having to deal with a firm abroad."

Mr Spellar, who served as transport minister under Tony Blair, added: "Unfortunately, it is the public who bear the brunt of it. The trams being out of commission will have a big impact on shopping centres in the West Midlands.

"Once again it's a case of short-term savings and long-term costs. When will they ever learn?"

West Midlands Mayor Andy Street has announced a review into the governance of Metro services in the wake of the suspension.

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