The first tracks of the Birmingham Westside extension of West Midlands Metro have been laid as progress on the first phase of this line continues ahead of an opening later in 2019. The tracks were laid in a special photo opportunity ceremony attended by Transport Minister Norman Jessop MP in Victoria Square.
As we have been covering over the past few months progress has been made on preparing the route of phase one of the Westside line – which will run from the current Grand Central stop to Centenary Square via Victoria Square – but this is the first track which has been put into place. This phase of the extension remains on schedule for opening at the end of 2019 and will include the very first sections of catenary free line requiring battery fitted trams to operate the service (of which there are seven available for service at the moment with more continually be taken of use for the work to take place).
At the ceremony Jesse Norman commented: “The West Midlands Metro network shows how government support can help to create a sustainable, accessible and innovative light rail system, which forms an integral part of a modern urban transport network. This is a great time to explore the incredible potential for light rail schemes across the country. Today’s wide-ranging Call for Evidence seeks new ideas and new support for the next generation of light rail, so that we make existing systems work better, and can work with cities and towns across the UK to create new ones.”
Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands, added: “I am delighted that we have reached this milestone in the development of Metro in Birmingham city centre and are able to share this with the Minister of State. It is a clear sign to the people of the West Midlands that we are delivering and this is just the start of a revolution in public transport with huge investment in new rail, tram, rapid bus, services and cycling planned over the next few years.”
Work will now continue on the extension over the next few months ahead of testing and then finally passenger service commencing at a yet to be confirmed date at the end of the year.