Express & Star

150 jobs to be created with £43 million West Midlands Metro tram depot expansion

Work has started on a £43 million redevelopment of the region’s Metro depot that will see 150 new jobs created.

Work has started on a £43m expansion of the Wednesbury tram depot

The West Midlands Metro depot on Potters Lane, Wednesbury, is undergoing a revamp to cater for more trams needed to serve the growing network.

The fleet is set to more than doubles in size to 46, with new vehicles needed to run on extensions including the one through Wolverhampton city centre, which is set to open in the coming weeks, as well as the truncated route from Wednesbury to Dudley town centre.

Eleven new CAF Urbos 3 trams have already arrived at the site, with a further 10 expected later this year. It is an updated model to the one that was pulled out of service during the past two years due to cracks been found on vehicles, forcing line suspensions.

The Government-funded development also includes extended and updated workshop and maintenance facilities, a tram wash, a new operations centre and expanded staff facilities.

Transport bosses expect 150 new jobs will be created as a result of the expansion of the network and depot.

West Midlands Mayor Andy Street, said: “We need more room to accommodate even more trams so this depot extension is very welcome news.

“Construction crews are hard at work right across our region expanding our Metro network in Wolverhampton, Birmingham, Sandwell and Dudley and this depot extension helps us to meet the consequent uptick in demand that will result from the new extended network.

Sophie Allison, interim MD Midland Metro, Dudley Council leader Patrick Harley, Wednesbury councillor Pete Hughes, West Midlands Mayor Andy Street, Councillor Liz Clements, Councillor Carol Hyatt and senior project manager Lee Allen

"What this also represents is new jobs – and out of the 150 jobs created nearly everyone will be a local recruit.

“Once complete, even more local residents and businesses – especially those in Dudley – will be able to benefit from a rapid, convenient and affordable alternative to the car for their journeys around the West Midlands.”

Mr Street added that there had been "no issues" with the third generation of the CAF Urbos trams and that he was confident there would be no further disruption to services due to cracked vehicles.

Construction is now underway with space being cleared to expand the yard and track, as well as to provide a direct track link to the new extension towards Dudley.

Councillor Peter Hughes, Sandwell Council’s cabinet member for regeneration and growth, said: “The current and future development of the West Midlands Metro network is playing an integral role to the regeneration of Sandwell, and its six towns, providing increased access for workers, shoppers and visitors to the region.

“With Wednesbury as the major hub to this network, it is pleasing to see the significant investment in the Metro depot, and I am particularly pleased that the investment will create new employment opportunities.”

The extension to Dudley is expected to be completed next year. Bosses insist the second phase to Brierley Hill will eventually go ahead, although it is currently mothballed due to a massive funding shortfall.

The depot development is being led by Transport for West Midlands (TfWM), with work carried out by Midland Metro Alliance.

It is expected to be completed by mid-2024.