Centro and National Express – operators of Midland Metro – have signed an agreement which will see a number of improvements implemented on the system. Most of the improvements have been previously announced such as the introduction of 20 new larger trams but this agreement has been signed to underpin them and will see National Express continue as operator for the next six years.
Metro Forward – as the agreement is known – will see Centro and National Express working together to drive forward a raft of enhancements for the system. It was signed at Snow Hill Station by key representatives from both sides including Centro Chairman Cllr John McNicholas and National Express UK Bus Managing Director Peter Coates.
Commitments now formally set out include:
* Increased frequency and capacity with the introduction of 20 new, larger trams
* Introduction of smartcard technology
* Upgrades to existing tram stops
* Measures to tackle metal and cable theft
* Enhanced safety and security
* Opportunities for more Park and Ride facilities
* Enhanced links with local bus services
Cllr McNicholas commented: “The Metro is the region’s most reliable and punctual form of public transport and already offers passengers an excellent service. Yet this new agreement cements the commitment of our two organisations to bring passengers even more benefits and to work closely together as the system undergoes some exciting changes, not least the return of trams to the streets of Birmingham.”
Mr Coates said: “This new agreement will see big customer experience improvements to an already industry leading service. It is also great news for the region with 1,300 extra jobs being created and a £50million a year boost to the economy.”
The joint Metro Forward taskforce will now press ahead with a number of initiatives. At the forefront of these will be the introduction of the fleet of new CAF built trams with the first due to be introduced into service from 2014. This will enable the service frequency to be increased to 10 trams an hour throughout the day increasing the capacity by 40% and easing morning peak overcrowding currently experienced.