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First phase of Birmingham city centre extension opens

Midland Metro CAF Urbos 29 leaving Bull Street for the journey to Wolverhampton on 6 December. (Image: Mike Ballinger)

Following final test runs on 1 December, Midland Metro’s city centre extension opened the short distance from St Paul’s to Bull Street on 6 December. The first tram passengers into the city centre since 1953 were carried on CAF tram 35 – named Angus Adams on 19 November by Her Majesty the Queen in memory of the chairman of the West Midlands Integrated Passenger Transport Authority and Centro who passed away suddenly in 2012 – at 08.00.

Work to complete the remainder of the 1.2km (0.7-mile) line to Stephenson Street was to be scaled back over the Christmas shopping period, with public services not expected to operate until February.

The UK Government has indicated that it broadly supports proposals to extend Midland Metro towards Birmingham Airport and deeper into the Black Country. These show that the Digbeth line will be extended via Bordesley Green to Birmingham Airport and the proposed High Speed 2 Interchange, and that plans for a Wednesbury – Brierley Hill branch off the Wolverhampton line would be revived. These routes would not be completed before the 2020s.

The devolution deal includes support for the ‘Sprint’ Bus Rapid Transit line on the Hagley Road corridor to Quinton and beyond. The Government is expected to fund GBP8bn (EUR11bn) of the proposed GBP20bn (EUR28bn) of transport upgrades in the deal.