Passenger tram services on the new West Midlands Metro extension from Library to Edgbaston are set to begin from this Sunday (17th July).
Phase two of the Birmingham Westside Metro extension takes the line along Broad Street to Hagley Road adding three stops along the way at Brindleyplace, Five Ways and the end of the line at Edgbaston Village.
The extension is opened in time for the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games and will offer the many visitors arriving in the city over the next few weeks a convenient and frequent service to the many hotels, hospitality businesses and entertainment venues in the area.
A test tram on the new extension
Trams will also be calling at all stops in Birmingham city centre including Grand Central, restoring the convenient link to regional and national rail services, and Library.
The older trams in the West Midlands Metro fleet have been undergoing an extensive repair programme as a result of cracks found in the bodypanels. Now enough vehicles have been repaired to allow passenger services to resume on the line through Birmingham city centre and the new Westside extension.
The Westside extension development has been led by Transport for West Midlands (TfWM), part of the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA), working with construction and design partner Midland Metro Alliance, operator Midland Metro Ltd and Birmingham City Council.
Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands and WMCA chair, said: “After an unfortunately interrupted customer experience this year for Metro passengers, I’m so pleased for local residents and businesses that we’ve now reached a turning point and a comprehensive service is returning.
“Not only are tram services to Library being restored this weekend but we are also unveiling three more stops on and beyond Broad Street – which along with Brindleyplace sits at the very heart of one of our region’s most vibrant business and hospitality districts attracting locals and visitors alike.
“This news could not have come at a better time as our hotels and venues prepare to offer a warm Brummie welcome to the thousands of people coming to town for the Commonwealth Games this summer. And the vast improvement in the tram connectivity in the city centre will make it easier than ever to choose public transport – helping us to reduce congestion and tackle the climate emergency.”
Cllr Ian Ward, WMCA portfolio holder for transport and leader of Birmingham City Council said: “After the disruption to the services over the last year is fantastic to see trams once again on the city centre streets delivering passengers to our shops, entertainment venues, visitor attractions and workplaces again – just in time for Birmingham 2022.
“This new extension opens up more our city centre to fast and clean tram services which can help further reduce car use and improve our air quality. It is a crucial part of our plans to decarbonise transport in the West Midlands through investment in cleaner bus, rail and road transport as well as offering more opportunities for walking and cycling.”
The Westside extension, including phase one between Grand Central and Library which opened in 2019, has cost £149 million. Main construction of phase two carried on through the Covid-19 pandemic to completion earlier this year.
The new extension will support local businesses vastly improving connectivity to the wider region.
Matt Long, head of customer engagement & placemaking Brindleyplace, said: ‘The West Midlands Metro extension to Brindleyplace and the Westside district of Birmingham is an important new piece of transport infrastructure that will have a transformational effect on this part of the city.
“The Metro is a fantastic asset for Birmingham and the Brindleyplace stop will have an enormously positive impact on travel times for everyone who comes to the estate.
“It helps put us on the public transport map for the benefit of all the people who work at and visit Brindleyplace and plugs them into the wider West Midlands public transport network with a direct and fast link to New Street and Snow Hill stations. Use of the Metro fits perfectly into the green transport strategy of Brindleyplace and its occupiers.”
Services will run every 12 to 15 minutes, with peak time frequency to increase as more trams become available for service following repair. Timetables and fare information is available on the West Midlands Metro website.
Sophie Allison, interim managing director of network operator, Midland Metro Limited, added: “As we reach this significant milestone for the network, the Metro team would like to welcome customers back to the city centre stops whilst bringing tram services to Edgbaston for the first time.
“We would also like to thank customers for their patience as they awaited the return of trams to Grand Central and Library following the restoration of services between Wolverhampton and Bull Street a few weeks ago.
“This was made possible with the return to service of a number of trams following successful body panel replacement work. As this programme of work accelerates, even more trams will be re-joining the fleet, enabling us to increase service frequency across the network.”
TfWM and Safer Travel police officers will be out on Broad Street to assist and advise people on road safety during the first weekend of tram operation next Friday and Saturday evenings (July 22 and 23). Teams from Metro will also be around throughout the week to support passengers using the service.
There remains some public realm work to complete following the opening as well as some work to prepare for future public transport infrastructure along Hagley Road.