Whilst there were problems on the current West Midlands Metro network there was a reason for celebration on one of the extensions as the first section of track was laid in Wolverhampton City Centre. This line – which will run along Piper’s Row to Wolverhampton Railway Station – is due to open in 2020 and this is the first major sign of progress in the construction phase.
The track – 36 metres of it – has been laid on Piper’s Row with Cllr Roger Lawrence, Leader of the City of Wolverhampton Council, and Alejandro Moreno, Director of Midland Metro Alliance, on hand to witness this key milestone in the project.
This is part of the second phase of the construction project which started back in the spring and is due to be completed in the late summer. Road closures are currently in place with numerous traffic diversions but these will be lifted at the end of this phase. Although this work will be completed within the next few months it won’t be until 2020 that trams are running to the station as there have been delays in the regeneration of the railway station with a knock on effect to West Midlands Metro.
The new line will see two stops constructed – the bus station at Piper’s Row and the railway station – and will leave the current line shortly before the Wolverhampton St George’s terminus. When the line does open services will be unable to serve both the station and St George’s with the service being split between the two (although the majority are likely to go to the station).
Cllr Roger Lawrence commented: “This is a significant milestone for West Midlands Metro in Wolverhampton, it is a sign of the progress the scheme is making and people can see how it is now that much closer. Nearly eight million journeys a year are now made on the Metro but this extension also has a key role to play in unlocking further investment and jobs, not just in Wolverhampton but across the wider Black Country, enabling us to open up new areas for redevelopment and underpinning our long term ambitions for jobs and prosperity. The Wolverhampton Interchange project is all part of getting the right transport infrastructure in place to improve connectivity and ensure the city is ready to capitalise on the arrival of HS2 in a just a few years’ time.”
Alejandro Moreno added: “The first tracks being laid is a significant and symbolic moment for the Wolverhampton City Centre Metro Extension. By extending the Metro to the railway station, we will not only provide an attractive gateway to those entering the city by national rail, bus or tram services, but will help to improve transport links in the city.”