Work to progress the proposed extension of the Midland Metro from Wednesbury to Brierley Hill is due to commence this week.
The Midland Metro Alliance (MMA), working on behalf of West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA), will begin to clear vegetation from overgrown areas of the disused former South Staffordshire Railway line in order to carry out comprehensive structural and environmental surveys.
It is anticipated the construction of the route will begin during 2019 and that the route will open for passenger service in 2023.
The Wednesbury to Brierley Hill extension will be 11 kilometres (6.8 miles) long and have 17 stops, including 4 provisional stops.
The route will branch off from the existing east of the existing depot at Wednesbury and go via Dudley town centre, Merry Hill and the terminus at Brierley Hill.
The vegetation clearance process should take approximately two weeks and all residents and businesses who may be directly affected by the works have been informed they are taking place.
Councillor Roger Lawrence, lead member for transport for the WMCA, said: “Whilst this is not the formal start of work on the extension it is the first step towards it.
"There is a lot of work still to be done but once it is complete the Black Country and wider region will reap the economic rewards of having an extended modern tram system running through it.”
Councillor Khurshid Ahmed, cabinet member for regeneration and enterprise for Dudley Council, said: “We’ve been working hard with partners to make this project happen as we are set to benefit significantly when the Metro rolls in.
"The improved transport links will create huge opportunities for jobs and tourism in the area. Therefore it’s great to see the project moving in the right direction and a commitment from all involved.”
Alejandro Moreno, Midland Metro Alliance Director, said: “We are very excited to begin work on this key route but before we can begin construction, we do need to carry out some preparatory work in order to decide what further works are required to prepare for construction.”
Stuart Everton, Black Country Director of Transport, added: “The start of construction of the line between Wednesbury and Brierley Hill is excellent news for the local economy, and will provide a significant boost to our regeneration plans for the region.
"It will also provide benefits to residents across the region by making it easier for them to get to jobs, and the national and international rail network.
The Midland Metro Alliance is a team of planning, design and construction specialists building a number of new tram extensions over the coming decade on behalf of the WMCA.
It consists of the WMCA, which owns the Midland Metro; a consortium of design experts from Egis, Tony Gee and Pell Frischmann; and rail construction specialists Colas Rail – with Colas’ sub-alliance partners Colas Ltd, Barhale, Thomas Vale and Auctus Management Group.