Expansion and ticketing initiative praised by transport industry.
The Midland Metro is celebrating a glorious double after scooping two prizes at the prestigious Global Light Rail Awards in London.
It won Best Customer Initiative for the introduction of contactless payments on to the service, and Project of the Year Over €50 million for the opening of the Birmingham city centre extension from Snow Hill to New Street station, the conclusion of the £127 million city centre extension and fleet replacement programme.
Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport Paul Maynard MP presented the awards in an evening at the headquarters of the Honourable Artillery Company in the City of London.
Cllr Roger Lawrence, lead member for transport for the West Midlands Combined Authority which runs the Metro, said: “Both of these projects are the result of a lot of hard work by a dedicated team of professionals, so these awards are richly deserved and I am delighted for them.
“The Metro extension was an extremely complicated project which, now it is completed, is delivering great benefits for its passengers, while passenger numbers have risen sharply, not least because of the introduction of contactless payment which is a speedy and convenient way of paying for travel on the Metro.”
The first part of the Midland Metro extension to Bull Street was opened by the Queen in December 2015, with the Grand Central opening marked by Birmingham rock legend Ozzy Osbourne the following May.
Since opening to Grand Central, Metro has seen passenger numbers rise by 30% on the previous year.The extension forms a part of a £128 million investment programme that saw the construction of the extension, a fleet of new trams and the expansion of the Metro depot at Wednesbury. It is expected to boost the West Midlands economy by more than £50 million a year and create 1,300 new jobs.
The extension is the first phase of the expansion of the network through Birmingham, with utility work already underway in preparation for the construction of extensions to Centenary Square and Wolverhampton Station which are due to open in 2019. Work is also due to start on a new link between Wednesfield and Brierley Hill in 2017.
The introduction of contactless payment saw the Midland Metro become the first tram company in the UK where on-board conductors could accept credit and debit card payments via contactless or smart apps, as well as Swift cards and cash. Since its launch in June 2016 this method is now responsible for 11% of fares.