In Pictures: Tram makes it to Wolverhampton Railway Station!

This is not a drill! And it is not 1st April! The first tram has finally reached Wolverhampton Railway Station as the testing and commissioning period of the West Midlands Metro extension gets underway. The nocturnal movement saw 43 travel along the entire length of the line in the early hours of Tuesday 4th April with the tram becoming the first on this short extension which is due to open this June.

If you have even a passing interest in trams and the West Midlands Metro you will probably realise that the saga of this extension has been going on for quite some time. It had originally been intended that trams would be able to run to the Railway Station in 2020 but various delays (pandemic, war in Ukraine, supply chain problems) have beset the project with its opening date continually knocked back. But now the official word is that a service will start at some point in June – and yes that means June 2023!

The extension leaves the original West Midlands Metro line shortly before St George’s is reached and then travels along Piper’s Row before turning into Railway Drive and terminating by the Railway Station. Two new stops are provided, one is adjacent to Wolverhampton Bus Station on Piper’s Row with the other being the Railway Station terminus. When services begin trams will alternate between going to St George’s and the Railway Station. Although the Midland Metro Alliance website says that trams will be running every six minutes at peak times its more likely that, at least to start with, the 10 minute frequency will continue which would mean a tram to each terminus every 20 minutes – that is to be confirmed though.

Back to the morning of Tuesday 4th April and 43 travelled after the last service tram of the day from the stop at The Royal to the new junction onto the line and then travelled slowly along the complete length of the extension. As is normal with these first runs it travelled at walking pace with various engineers and technicians on hand to make sure that everything was as it should be. And the good news is that indications are that all went as expected.

Peter Cushing, Director of the Midland Metro Alliance, was understandably delighted by the tests: “It is fantastic that the first tram has now travelled along new tracks in Wolverhampton. This shows just how close we are to handing the route over to the operator for further testing and familiarisation. The first tram test has proved a success and I would like to thank the team who have worked incredibly hard to reach this important phase in the project.”

Paul Georges, Testing and Commissioning Manager at MMA, added: “Testing and commissioning is an important phase which involves running out of service trams, from a walking pace up to operational speed, along the newly installed track, allowing engineers to complete a series of tests in a working environment, making sure the new infrastructure is both safe and reliable. I am delighted that we have now reached this essential phase in the project.”

This is just the start of the testing and commissioning process and will see trams running on the line regularly before finally a ghost service runs to the planned timetable but without passengers. The testing provides an opportunity for the testing of tracks, signals and other infrastructure and in addition allows the public to get used to trams running along the line.

To mark the start of testing Midland Metro Alliance and West Midlands Metro have released a series of safety videos which illustrate simple tips to people on how to act safely around the tramway. Topics include advice to cyclists and urging people to be alert when using mobile phones or headphones close to the tramway. The videos will be shown on local television station, Local TV, and are available on the Midland Metro Alliance website. Safety postcards have also been distributed to travel shops, offices and businesses in Wolverhampton City Centre.

An exact date for opening has not been announced but June is now being mentioned officially for the first time.

A tram on the Wolverhampton City Centre extension! 43 made the first trips and in this photo we see the tram on Piper’s Row by the junction with Tower Street at the start of the line.

Another view of 43 on Piper’s Row during its test runs.

On the return journey 43 is captured at the intermediate stop at Wolverhampton Bus Station.

Up at Wolverhampton Railway Station where 43 has been up to the terminus platform and is now returning along the line.

43 once more at Wolverhampton Railway Station.

The Britannia Hotel on Piper’s Row (address is actually Lichfield Road) is the backdrop for this final shot of 43 as it undergoes the first tests on the Wolverhampton Railway Station extension. (All Photographs by Andy Walters, 4th April 2023)

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3 Responses to In Pictures: Tram makes it to Wolverhampton Railway Station!

  1. Geoff, IoM says:

    Thank you very much, Andy; your dedication is much appreciated!

  2. Ginger Doctor says:

    The question now is will it be Edinburgh, Blackpool or Midland Metro to open the extension first.

    I think it will be a close call perhaps a week or two between openings. But it would be funny if it was a double whammy with two of the three opening on the same day.

    I can see Midland Metro opening there’s either Sunday 28th May or 4th June 2023.

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