Midland Metro set to reach New Street from 22nd May

The sight of trams running through Birmingham City Centre as far as New Street station is set to become a regular occurrence following the completion of the first overnight tests of the section to there from Bull Street. As previously announced these first tests took place in the early hours of Sunday 24th April with Urbos 3 37 the tram in charge to ensure that everything was as it should have been. Providing that nothing untoward is discovered once the results of the tests are analysed Centro have now confirmed that passenger services to New Street station via Corporation Street will commence from Sunday 22nd May.

Phil Hewitt, Centro’s Midland Metro programme director, said: “This was the last big hurdle to overcome. Now that we have completed these crucial trials we are in the final preparations to start services down to New Street and Grand Central, with all the benefits that will bring to Birmingham city centre and the wider West Midlands economy.”

The test runs were able to take place during an engineering possession on the national rail tracks and had been announced in February with Network Rail fast tracking the application. As well as the standard testing as expected on a new tram line it was also imperative that the Midland Metro line does not interfere in any way with the Network Rail lines. Provided that no last minute issues are identified once Centro and Network Rail have reviewed the data these first tests now mean it should be all systems go for further testing, driver training ahead of that planned opening on Sunday 22nd May.

Ben Ackroyd, director of Midland Metro, commented: “This is great news for passengers. Our Midland Metro drivers are keen to start running the trams all the way down to New Street. They have been already learning the route on our simulator in the depot at Wednesbury. In the next few weeks, the public will see our drivers out in the training tram, getting ready to carry passengers on May 22.”

Construction work on this 1.2km extension between St Paul’s and New Street station started in 2012 with the first section (as far as Bull Street) opening in December 2015. Unfortunately despite hopes that the full line would be open at this time construction work was not sufficiently advanced so a delay was announced with works continuing in the first few months of 2016 which has seen the full infrastructure put into place although there still remain a few finishing works to be completed in the next month.

If everything goes according to plan trams will run all the way from Wolverhampton St George’s to New Street station from Sunday 22nd May with the stop at Corporation Street also opening on this date. However the stop at Snow Hill, which enjoyed a one weekend opening over Easter during the closure of the line to Bull Street, is not due to be finished by this date and will remain closed for the foreseeable future.

Once this line opens that won’t be the end of extending Midland Metro as work has already commenced on an extension from New Street station to Centenary Square (including the first use of battery operated trams) which is due to open in 2019. The same year should also see the Wolverhampton City Centre extension (running through to the railway station) open, although construction works for this have yet to commence. And in the future it is also hoped Midland Metro will reach Edgbaston via Broad Street and Five Ways (with funding already earmarked) and a route has also been identified running through to Digbeth from Bull Street via Albert Street, the HS2 station at Curzon Street, New Canal Street, Meriden Street, High Street Deritend, Digbeth Coach Station and the Custard Factory. It is hoped this would be open by 2023.

It might have taken a while but the expanded Midland Metro is coming!

37 makes its first run down Corporation Street under the watchful eye of engineers.

At the end of the first test run 37 stands at New Street station.

Another view of 37 in Corporation Street. This time the tram is running at operational speed following the succesful completion of the first slow speed tests. (All Photographs courtesy of Centro)

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16 Responses to Midland Metro set to reach New Street from 22nd May

  1. Paul says:

    Centro need to work with the Xmas markets for the line up to to broad street.

  2. mike stone says:

    “Obelisk” outside New St refers to 6-minute service coming soon.

  3. Kevin Critchfield says:

    This is great news can’t wait to go down to New streat later on the tram when the testing has finish

  4. Alan says:

    Am I right in thinking that in order to extend the network to Digbeth and HS2, etc, major works will be required at the Corporation Street / Bull Street junction to install points. This would surely mean that services could not reach New Street station from Wolverhampton during the works! Back to where we are now?

    • Tony Sullivan says:

      Sometime ago I posted a note to say that in Brighton points were put in place at Seven Dials to take tracks down Davigdor Road – although never used as Hove refused to have any trams. I would have thought that it would have been much easier and less costly in the long term for the pointwork at the junction of Corporation Street and Bull Street whilst the construction works for the line to New Street were still ongoing.

      • Alan says:

        This is exactly my point Tony. It has taken four years to reach where we are now and even when the extension to New Street opens, the stop for Snow Hill will still not be available. Is there any forward planning in Birmingham? Absolutely shambolic.

        • Stephen says:

          The cost of putting in points for a piece of line that had not even been approved for funding never mind had a TWA Order in place would make this a bit difficult to justify. I am sure they could get the engineering work done in quick time without major disruption.

        • Tony Sullivan says:

          Alan. exactly. My previous posting was made when construction was still on going and when the route of the new line to Curzon Street and Deritend had been announced. I mentioned Brighton merely because putting in pointwork prior to the route been constructed had already been done in the past. I had forgotten about Blackpool which is in the much nearer past.

          • Stephen says:

            Blackpool could obviously justify the spend and Centro probably couldn’t. While the route has been announced i would imagine that detailed design is a fair way off given that it is slated for 2023 opening. As such just shoving a set of points in may not be the right thing to do as there could be factors further into the build that complicate their use or compromise the design further into the build.

    • Paul says:

      Unless centro runs a shuttle tram platform 2 bull street to new street and main tram stops platform one into bull st and turns around back to wolvo

  5. Kevin Critchfield says:

    Can’t see the metro running on May 22 cuz they are digging up again at new street station again wot hell are these contractors doing thing they no brains in the head

  6. Paul says:

    Driver train should start on monday

  7. Daniel Noon says:

    i know that driver traning is due to start very soon to and from new street without passengers. with passengers to Bull street then trams run empty to grand central new street station i am sure that passenger service is expected to start from sunday 22nd of May

  8. daniel noon says:

    has the driver traning already started down to Grand central / New street station i thought it starts on the 8th of this month.

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