First rail of Midland Metro extension laid

Sixty years after the last tram ran along the streets of Birmingham, the first section of rail has been laid for the £127 million extension of the Midland Metro network from Snow Hill to New Street station.

To keep disruption to a minimum the tracks are not being laid sequentially but at a number of different work sites across the city. This is due to an agreement that no one work site is longer than 50 metres in length.

The 1.5 kilometre extension, due to open in mid-2015, will initially link the station at Birmingham Snow Hill with Birmingham New Street, allowing the original platform 4 at Snow Hill, that was removed for the Midland Metro, to be reinstated for heavy rail use and increase capacity.

Once the New Street extension is open it is hoped to extend the line from New Street along Pinfold Midland Metro portraitStreet, Victoria Square, Paradise Street and Broad Street before terminating at Centenary Square. This, all being well, should follow on fairly quickly after the New Street extension.

Funding, primarily through the Enterprise Zone, has already been received for the project.

The total project cost includes £40 million for a new fleet of 20 new Urbos 3 trams from CAF – the first of which arrived in the city last month.

Placing the first section of rail, Councillor 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.”

Balfour Beatty expects to complete the extension ready for passenger traffic in 2015.

Report by Jonathan Webb