First tracks laid on Birmingham city centre extension

A major milestone in the construction of the Birmingham city centre extension of Midland Metro has been reached following the laying of the first rails as part of the £127 million project. The rail was laid at Colmore Gate in Bull Street with much fanfare.

Cllr Roger Horton, Centro lead member for rail, said: “Trams are very much a transport mode of the future and this is a significant and symbolic moment for the Metro extension. In the year that sees the 60th anniversary of the last tram running in Birmingham we are seeing the first tracks go in for a new 21st century system. These first tracks are another sign of the progress the scheme is making and people can see that the return of trams, with all the economic benefits they will bring, is that much closer.”

The extension – which is being constructed by Balfour Beatty – will run leave the existing line shortly before the current Snow Hill stop onto a viaduct (which will include a new Snow Hill stop) before running along Bull Street, Corporation Street and Stephenson Street before terminating outside New Street railway station at the Grand Central stop. It is scheduled to open to the public in 2015 with a new fleet of Urbos 3 trams currently being constructed by CAF in Spain. The first of these trams has now been delivered and these will see service on the current route ahead of the extension opening.

Centro are also continuing to look forward towards further extensions with consultation having already taken place on proposals to further extend the line through Birmingham city centre from New Street to Centenary Square via Paradise Circus with more than 90% of those who responded in favour of the plan which already has funding through the Enterprise Zone. Plans are also being discussed at the other end of the line with an extension into Wolverhampton city centre and onto the railway station on the cards with a funding package currently being looked into for this.

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