Metro usage soars following opening of extension

Further expansion planned for transport network.

Passenger numbers on the Midland Metro have soared since the opening of the Birmingham city centre extension to New Street station.

Figures show patronage for the period since opening to Grand Central is up 31% compared with the same period the previous year. The increase week on week is six per cent, with the average now at 117,000 passengers.

The growth is a ringing endorsement of the Midland Metro line by the travelling public since the opening of the extension. Cllr Roger Lawrence, transport lead for the West Midlands Combined Authority, said he was delighted. He said: “Over the next 10 years there will be a £1.2 billion expansion of the Midland Metro network and these figures show why. The Metro is key to the WMCA’s vision for strategic growth and regeneration in the West Midlands and this region will see real benefits as new routes are rolled out over the next few years.”

The Midland Metro runs from Wolverhampton St Georges to New Street station via Bilston, Wednesbury, West Bromwich, the Jewellery Quarter and Snow Hill station Work is now underway extending the route from New Street Station to Centenary Square, with services expected to start running in 2019.

Funding has also been earmarked for the line to go further along Broad Street, past Five Ways and on to Edgbaston by 2021.

The route of an extension through Digbeth in Birmingham has also been chosen, running from Bull Street via Albert Street and on to the forthcoming HS2 high speed rail station at Curzon Street.From there it would go along New Canal Street and Meriden Street into High Street Deritend, stopping at Digbeth Coach Station and the Custard Factory. It is anticipated the line could be open by 2023.

In Wolverhampton, permission has just been granted by the Government to begin work on the £18 million city centre extension, with completion also scheduled for 2019. The route will take trams along Pipers Row, stopping directly outside the bus station before continuing on to the railway station which will also be redeveloped as part of the Wolverhampton Interchange Project.

A business case is also being prepared to extend the Metro from Wednesbury to Brierley Hill.

The routes will be built by the Midland Metro Alliance, a new partnership between WMCA, rail construction specialists Colas, to revolutionise the £1.2 billion construction of the future tram routes.

The Midland Metro Alliance is a team of planning, design and construction specialists to build the four new tram extensions over the coming decade on behalf of the WMCA. It consists of the WMCA, which owns the Metro, rail construction specialists Colas Rail and a consortium of design experts from Egis, Tony Gee and Pell Frischmann.