The West Midlands Metro is set to continue its major expansion in the forthcoming years following the news that the West Midlands Combined Authority have given the final go-ahead for the cash to be made available for the line to Brierley Hill. £449 million is being budgeted for the extension which would open in 2023.
This has been described as the “final hurdle” for the line which will run for 11km and will see a combination of converted former railway line and new sections. It is planned to leave the current line just to the east of Wednesbury Great Western Street and then heads through Tipton and Dudley before terminating at Brierley Hill. Up to 17 new stops will be constructed and it will include easy access to the Black Country Living Museum meaning you can catch a tram to catch a tram! Investigations are continuing as to whether all the line will be built with overhead or if some sections will be overhead free.
Work will start in earnest later this year with all work due to be completed in time for opening in 2023 (a year which is looking to be a busy one already for route openings!).
Cllr Qadar Zada, Leader of Dudley Council, said: “There’s no doubt this is a trailblazer project which will have a massive impact on the borough, beyond transportation. It will be the catalyst for new homes, commercial opportunities, jobs and much more for this borough. It’s taken a long time to get to this point, but the funding is the final hurdle to making this scheme a reality and I am very much looking forward to seeing work start as soon as possible.”
Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands, commented: “We’re investing billions in public transport networks to bring the communities of the West Midlands closer together. The Wednesbury to Brierley Hill line will be a true game-changer, bringing huge benefits to this part of the Black Country and acting as a catalyst for new housing, jobs and leisure opportunities. It will allow people to reach new employment sites – such as Castle Hill, the DY5 Enterprise Zone and Merry Hill, and forecasts predict it could lead to an almost 30% increase in permanent jobs in this part of the Black Country. That’s good news for everyone. I also welcome TfWM’s feasibility study, which will ensure we get the best possible public transport routes to link Brierley Hill to Stourbridge and other areas of the West Midlands.”
Roger Lawrence, portfolio holder for transport at the WMCA and leader of the City of Wolverhampton Council, added: “This will be the biggest light rail scheme in the UK when work starts, and is a scheme which has been talked about for a long time now. I am delighted the funding for this scheme has been approved by WMCA so work can get started, and the people of Dudley and the wider Black Country can enjoy better public transport links into the rest of the West Midlands, along with the new visitors and opportunities it will bring to their area.”
A feasibility study has also been launched to see what mode of transport would best link Brierley Hill to Stourbridge – this would either be rail, light rail, Metro or bus.