First tracks laid for Midland Metro extension in Birmingham…
The £127 million extension of the Midland Metro in Birmingham has reached another major milestone.
The first of the tracks that will take trams through the streets of the city centre from Snow Hill station to New Street station were laid at Colmore Gate in Bull Street.
The cost of the project includes the new £40 million Urbos 3 tram fleet that will run on the Metro between Birmingham and Wolverhampton, the first of which arrived from Spain last month.
Cllr Roger Horton, Centro lead member for rail, said: “Trams are very much a transport mode of the future and this is a significant and symbolic moment for the Metro extension.
“In the year that sees the 60th anniversary of the last tram running in Birmingham we are seeing the first tracks go in for a new 21st century system.
“These first tracks are another sign of the progress the scheme is making and people can see that the return of trams, with all the economic benefits they will bring, is that much closer.”
Construction giants Balfour Beatty are building the extension, scheduled to open in 2015.
It will run from Snow Hill through Bull Street, Corporation Street and Stephenson Street, terminating outside New Street station.
Once complete the project will see:
- 4,000 cubic metres (around 8,000 tonnes) of concrete used on the scheme
- A total track length of 1.5km, the weight of which is 55kg per metre
- 3,000 sleepers installed, each sleeper weighing 100kg
John Daft, Balfour Beatty project director, said: “We are delighted to be celebrating the achievement of this significant milestone with Centro and Birmingham City Council.
“Despite the complexity of the construction works and the highly confined space we have to operate in, the works are progressing at an excellent pace.
“We are especially thankful to neighbouring businesses and residents for their continued patience and cooperation during construction.”
The extension from Snow Hill to New Street is expected to create more than 1,300 new jobs and boost the West Midlands economy by more than £50 million a year.
Consultation has already taken place on Centro proposals to extend the Metro from New Street Station through Paradise Circus and up to Centenary Square to help improve transport links and support economic regeneration taking place in the area.
More than 90% of people responding to the consultation were supportive of the further extension which has since received funding primarily through the Enterprise Zone.
There are also plans to extend Metro in Wolverhampton city centre, with an extension along Piper’s Row and a stop directly outside the bus station before terminating at the rail station.
The funding package for this extension is being discussed by Centro and partners Wolverhampton City Council, Neptune Developments, Network Rail and Virgin Trains as part of the Interchange Phase 2 project.
The new fleet of trams, being built by Spanish manufacturer CAF, will start running in 2014, bringing major benefits to passengers by substantially increasing capacity and allowing an increase in frequency of service to every six minutes throughout the day.
Work is also underway on a major extension of the Metro maintenance depot at Wednesbury to allow for the new larger fleet of trams.
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