Construction work which will enable West Midlands Metro trams to run on the first phase of the Birmingham Westside extension to Victoria Square and Centenary Square by the end of this year is now entering its final stages with the latest significant milestone of all track in place being achieved this week.
The final piece of track was finally welded into place in Centenary Square which will soon allow for further testing to take place before a full test programme is initiated ahead of the line’s opening in December. So far a tram has run into Victoria Square with the next round of tests expected during October.
It is planned that passengers will be able to travel on the extension from December 2019 with trams running through Grand Central and onto two new stops in Victoria Square and Centenary Square, where trams will terminate temporarily ahead of the remainder of the line to Edgbaston opening in 2021.
Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands, said: “It is amazing to think that the track which is newly laid and welded in Centenary Square is now connected all the way to Wolverhampton, and within a few short years will further extend across even more of Birmingham and the Black Country. Since taking office in May 2017 I have had the pleasure of working closely with the team at the Midland Metro Alliance, and I want to thank them all for their hard work in making this project happen.”
Alejandro Moreno, Director of the Midland Metro Alliance, added: “It has been incredibly exciting to celebrate the final piece of track being connected in Centenary Square. There are more than 300 men and women working across the alliance’s projects in the West Midlands and I’d like to thank each and every one for their hard work. In the city centre, specifically, we’re moving to a new stage of the project and over the coming months those in the area will witness construction areas in the city centre reducing. At this time we would like to thank those who have been impacted by our works for their patience and understanding.”
This first stage of the Westside extension is being constructed without any overhead wires with trams running under battery power instead. This will be the first section of modern tramway built in the UK like this although, as has been pointed out to me previously, it isn’t the only tramway without overhead currently as the line at the Statfold Barn Railway is also sans overhead.