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Transport for West Midlands launched

The newly-announced Midland Metro Alliance will deliver four new extensions to the UK’s Midland Metro over the coming decade; CAF Urbos 21 on Bull Street in central Birmingham on 28 June. — Neil Pulling

Authority and ‘Alliance’ confirmed that will deliver GBP1.2bn Midland Metro expansion.

Transport for West Midlands (TfWM) formally replaced the UK’s West Midlands Integrated Transport Authority and Centro (the Passenger Transport Executive) as part of a devolution package that came into effect on 17 June. This was delayed from 10 June due to a last-minute parliamentary challenge.
TfWM will drive forward more than GBP4bn (EUR4.7bn) of transport infrastructure delivery over the coming decade, including further tramway extensions, new suburban rail lines, cycle routes and improved motorway links. A key priority over the next 12 months will be to draw up a timetable setting out which schemes will be delivered when in the lead up to the arrival of the UK’s new High Speed 2 (HS2) rail line in the region.
Specific projects – most of which have already been previously announced – include extending the Midland Metro tramway to the planned Curzon HS2 station, and on to the airport/HS2 Interchange; to Centenary Square (2019) and along Broad Street to Edgbaston (2020-21); to Wednesbury connecting to the existing line to Birmingham and Wolverhampton; and along Pipers Row stopping at the bus station and the new Wolverhampton Interchange.
Proposals to extend Midland Metro to a new Wolverhampton Interchange have been accepted in full. The GBP18m (EUR22m) extension paves the way for the next stage of a wider GBP120m (EUR144m) redevelopment of land around the railway station. Preparatory work is already underway and the extension is expected to be operational in 2019.
On 28 June, the formation of the Midland Metro Alliance was confirmed, a legal agreement which will see the same planning, design and construction team building the four new tram extensions over the coming decade totalling GBP1.2bn (approx. EUR1.4bn).
A significant departure from the traditional UK model of appointing contractors on a project by project basis, the agreement will see all parties in the alliance share the risks and rewards with a significant focus on team-working with stakeholders, businesses and the community.
The alliance consists of the West Midlands Combined Authority, Colas Rail (and its partners Colas Ltd, Barhale, Thomas Vale and Auctus Management Group) and a consortium of designers made up of Egis Rail, Tony Gee and Pell Frischman.
Midland Metro Alliance Director Iain Anderson said: “This is an extremely exciting opportunity for all parties within the alliance. The scale of the proposed development programme, and the commitment to a ten-year duration provides us with a unique opportunity to develop efficient bespoke solutions, build long term relationships and to play a major role in the enhancement of the communities within which we will be operating.” A business case is also currently being prepared to extend the Metro from Wednesbury to Brierley Hill.

The last remaining element in the first phase of the expansion of Midland Metro came on 1 June when Birmingham’s Snow Hill stop was opened on a permanent basis; it had previously been open for a short period earlier in the year.
Services reached Grand Central from 30 May, when a new timetable featuring improved peak hour services was introduced.