Metro and rail misery as work costs soar by £75m leaving huge funding gaps

Transport schemes in the region – including Metro extension works – have seen costs rocket by more than £75 million.

The £43m expansion of Wednesbury tram depot is one of the schemes to see costs rise
The £43m expansion of Wednesbury tram depot is one of the schemes to see costs rise

Bosses are set to dip into a Government funding pot to plug a huge shortfall for several projects.

They include phase one of the Wednesbury to Brierley Hill Metro extension, the Darlaston and Willenhall railway stations, the £43m Wednesbury Metro depot expansion, and the Camp Hill line stations.

The second part of the Metro extension, from Dudley to Brierley Hill, has already been mothballed, while the Birmingham Eastside extension is also expected to bust its budget.

Bosses said the schemes are “coming under pressure from cost inflation”, with rising energy prices and supply shortages having an impact on their ability to deliver “on time and on budget”.

A report to the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) board says a funding gap of £75.7m has been cut to £53.4m.

This has been done by using “top-up Government funding”, sourcing external finance for ‘tap and cap’ contactless payments, and “de-prioritising” projects including the bus retrofit scheme.

The board is next week set to approve a plan to dip into the region’s £1bn City Region Sustainable Transport Settlement (CRSTS) to ensure schemes go ahead without delay.

However, transport chiefs have warned the move could see some futures projects pushed back or deemed unviable, with a review of the region’s transport infrastructure programme scheduled for 2025-26.

It comes after bosses said the cost of the long-delayed Wolverhampton Metro extension has risen by £10.8m to almost £50m.

The WMCA is desperately trying to rebalance its transport programme in the face of mounting cost pressures.

According to the report, the second phase of the Wednesbury to Brierley Hill Metro line from Dudley is still up to £200m short of funding and remains mothballed.

Meanwhile the £227m Birmingham Eastside extension is facing rising costs of up to £50m, with bosses admitting the scheme is "unlikely to be delivered within budget".

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