An expansion of the West Midlands Metro depot at Wednesbury is set to go-ahead after £43 million worth of funding from the £1.3 billion City Region Sustainable Transport Settlement (CRSTS) was confirmed by the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) Board. The expansion of the depot is one of four schemes approved – the first to benefit from this major investment.
Its been known for a while that either the Wednesbury facility would have to be expanded or a second depot would have to be built somewhere as the current depot will not be bigger enough to house the full fleet of trams. This funding now confirms that the plans are for an extended depot to be provided giving enough space for the whole fleet of trams.
How full the depot is at the moment has become very apparent with the suspension of the service and all trams being on site throughout the day and so this funding is to be welcomed. Once you’ve got an extended depot all you need then is a reliable service to be provided alongside it as hopefully in the future there won’t be 29 trams on site all day, every day.
Another scheme which has been approved by the WMCA board is for a £17 million project to replace and upgrade the Metro power supply on the existing Wolverhampton to Birmingham line for the first time since opening 22 years ago.
Other projects approved – all are subject to final government approval – are:
- £24 million to seek sites for, plan and deliver a network of 10 EV transit stations across the West Midlands
- £56 million to deliver phase two of the Sprint bus priority corridor with more bus lanes and junction upgrades along the full route between Solihull and Walsall. Phase one along the A34 and A45 in Birmingham is nearing completion.
Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands and chair of the WMCA Board, said: “These projects are just the start of our £1.3 billion investment to de-carbonise and revolutionise our transport network across the West Midlands. We know that many people and businesses would like to switch to electric vehicles but are worried about the availability of chargers – so these 10 electric vehicle transit stations show we are serious about supporting that transition. And our Metro depot expansion is also a clear sign that we are making progress on extending our tram network into Sandwell and Dudley and then onto Digbeth, offering even more people fast and frequent transport links to the jobs and opportunities our region has to offer.”