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Midland Metro route to New Street station opens

CAF Urbos car 30 at the newly opened Grand Central New Street terminus — Rick Wilson

Passenger service on the latest Midland Metro tram extension to Birmingham New Street station (UK) began on 30 May.

The projected date of 22 May was called off a few days beforehand as issues with the track alignment had been found which needed to be corrected before driver training could be undertaken. The necessary amendments were carried out and training started on 23 May. The route from Bull Street includes a new stop in Corporation Street and a temporary terminus outside New Street station and the Grand Central shopping complex. The opening will also allow the stop at Snow Hill station to fully open, although this has been used temporarily on an earlier occasion.

A new timetable will also be introduced which gives a six-minute peak headway on Monday to Friday with a base service of eight minutes during the day and 15 minutes in the evening and on Sundays.
Business leaders and local politicians have criticised work on the extension – which they say has progressed at a rate of only 81cm (32 inches) a day and taken nearly four years to complete the 1.2km (0.8-mile) line. Centro and the West Midlands Combined Authority have been requested to look at these issues and make sure that future extensions do not suffer similar delays.

Prior to the opening, on 26 May one of the CAF Urbos 3 trams was officially named after Birmingham-born rock star Ozzy Osbourne, who attended a ceremony at the new Corporation Street stop.

In a separate announcement, the Department for Transport has given formal approval for the extension from Stephenson Street to Centenary Square via Victoria Square. Construction is expected to start on the wire-free extension later this year for completion in 2019.

On 10 June, the powers and responsibilities of both the West Midlands Integrated Transport Authority (WMITA) and Centro came under the remit of a new body, Transport for the West Midlands. Its Managing Director has been announced as former WMITA Strategic Director for Transport Laura Shoaf.