The tram extension linking Birmingham city centre with Edgbaston and the city’s growing Westside area has been given the go-ahead thanks to a multi-million pound funding pledge from the Department for Transport.
Five new tram stops will be served by up to ten trams an hour at peak when the 2km extension of Midland Metro, from Grand Central, outside Birmingham New Street station, to Edgbaston opens in 2021.
The boost from the Department for Transport completes the total £149m funding for the project, with another £84m having already been raised locally through the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA), City Council, Greater Birmingham & Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership and others.
On a visit to see the route of the new extension yesterday (Thursday 31 August), Transport Minister Paul Maynard met with Cllr Bob Sleigh OBE, Deputy Mayor of the West Midlands, Laura Shoaf, Managing Director of Transport for the West Midlands (TfWM), Phil Hewitt, Metro Programme Director for Transport for West Midlands, and Alejandro Moreno, Director of the Midland Metro Alliance, the body designing and building the tram extensions on behalf of the WMCA.
Mr Maynard said: “Midland Metro is already a success story, with passenger journeys up over 50% in the year since the extension to Grand Central opened in 2016. This new extension will be a further boost to Birmingham businesses, will make travelling to work easier for commuters and will increase access to some of the West Midlands major leisure venues.
“But just as importantly, it will help ease the pressure on the roads as it will provide an alternative for getting in and out of the city centre. This is a vital project and one which we are delighted to be able to support.”
The extension will see new tram stops at the Town Hall, Centenary Square, Brindley Place, and at two further stops either side of the Five Ways roundabout in Edgbaston.
The new route will also offer a direct link by tram to Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, the International Convention Centre and Symphony Hall.
Preliminary groundworks started in the summer but now final funding for the scheme has been secured from central government, major project works could be set to get underway within weeks.
To limit the impact on Birmingham’s historic city centre and iconic buildings, parts of the route will be built without overhead lines. When this happens, hi-tech batteries fitted to the trams will mean they can run on their own power.
The DfT is providing £59.8m for the project through the Local Growth Fund – a £12 billion fund to support a variety of projects including transport schemes, new housing and improving education.
WMCA are providing another £59m and the remainder comes from Birmingham City Council, Greater Birmingham Local Growth Fund Pot, Greater Birmingham & Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership and developers.
Between June 2016 and May 2017 there were 6.2m passenger journeys on Midland Metro, a rise of 29% compared to the previous year.