The £227 million extension of the West Midlands Metro to Digbeth – the Birmingham Eastside line running from Bull Street – has received a further boost with news that £15.7 million has been awarded for public realm improvements in Digbeth High Street. This work will be completed as part of the Metro extension works and is said to provide a catalyst for further investment and development.
As part of these public realm improvements – which are due to get underway in July 2021 – the Metro route will be realigned to allow for wider payments, better cycle routes and increased cycle parking along Digbeth High Street. It is hoped it will make the area more attractive for pedestrians and residents, increasing footfall, supporting future commercial investment and growth in local businesses.
The Metro line will run in both directions on the southern side of Digbeth (closest to the coach station) giving good connections to the West of Birmingham and the Black Country by fast, frequent and sustainable public transport options.
The Birmingham Eastside line is due to run for 1.7km from Bull Street in Birmingham City Centre (where it will leave the current city centre line) to Digbeth. There will be four new stops added to the network and more than half the route will be built without overhead wires. Construction is due to get underway in Lower Bull Street in June 2021 with utility works having started last year. No opening date for the line has been set yet due to the “complexity of parallel works on the HS2 Curzon Street Station)”.
Speaking about this news, Peter Cushing, Director of the Midland Metro Alliance, said: “The expansion of the Metro to the east of the city will make it easier for those living, working and travelling in Birmingham to get around. This is an exciting scheme which will help transform and support the regeneration of Digbeth by improving connectivity and making the most out of HS2. I am delighted, that even before passenger services are running in Digbeth, that the area will be renewed through these ambitious street scene improvements and look forward to seeing progress made on the project over the coming months.”
Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands and chair of the West Midlands Combined Authority, said: “These improvements to Digbeth High Street demonstrate how investment in transport infrastructure, in this case our Eastside Metro extension, can have a transformative effect and trigger further investment in our towns and cities. It is great that work is set to start this summer, creating local jobs at what is a critical time as we recover from the Covid pandemic. The improved transport links and street environment will also help support jobs and investment in the Digbeth area for years to come.”