The project to bring trams into the heart of Wolverhampton and terminating at the railway station will get under way in earnest during March. This second phase of works – which follows on from the installation of the junction during the closure of the line along Bilston Road – is due to take place until the summer, although trams won’t be running until 2020.
The extension will leave the current Midland Metro route shortly before the current St George’s terminus (which will be retained for some services) running through to Wolverhampton Railway Centre with a new stop also built on Piper’s Row to provide excellent connections with the bus station. There will be major forthcoming redevelopment at the railway station which means that it won’t be until 2020 – when this redevelopment is completed – that a tram service will be started.
During the construction work from March, Piper’s Row will be closed to traffic with some bus services having to be diverted. These diversions and the closure will remain in place until the work has been completed in the summer.
The works forms part of the wider £150 million Wolverhampton Interchange to regenerate the city’s transport hub and provide an attractive gateway to those entering the city by national rail, bus or tram services. The tram extension part will cost £33.3 million.
Alejandro Moreno, Director of Midland Metro Alliance, said: “Although we appreciate that there will be some disruption to those living, working and travelling through Pipers Row during the works, we are working closely with the City of Wolverhampton Council, Wolverhampton Business Improvement District and Transport for West Midlands to minimise our impact. As with our other projects, we aim to ensure the local economy benefits and source goods and labour, wherever possible, from the local supply chain. Our Engagement Team will also continue to work closely with local businesses and residents to inform them of the plans for construction during these important works.”
The Wolverhampton City Centre extension will be constructed without overhead with trams operating on battery power instead. Trams are expected to run every 6 minutes during peak periods and 15 minutes at other times to the railway station with Wolverhampton St George’s being served by two to four trams an hour.