Work has started on the proposed Midland Metro extension from Wednesbury to Brierley Hill with the Midland Metro Alliance starting to clear vegetation from overgrown areas of the disused former South Staffordshire Railway line. This will allow for full structural and environmental surveys to take place.
It is expected that the clearance works will take approximately two weeks to complete and that disruption to the public should be minimal.
Cllr Roger Lawrence, lead member for transport for the West Midlands Combined Authority, 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.”
Alejandro Moreno, Midland Metro Alliance Director, added: “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.”
Full construction of the route is anticipated to start in 2019 and it is hoped that the first passengers will be able to travel between Wednesbury and Brierley Hill from 2023. The proposed route would leave the current Midland Metro line to the east of Wednesbury Depot and would mainly run along a disused heavy rail corridor although will deviate from this to access Dudley Town Centre, Merry Hill and the terminus at Brierley Hill. It would be 11km long with 17 stops planned to be constructed (including four provisional). A new depot would be built to accommodate the extra trams needed for this route and early investigations are also looking at which sections can be built without overhead wires and be operated using batteries instead.