Posted 6th December 2015 | 1 Comment

Trams return to streets of Birmingham

THE first tram in public service since 1953 ran on the streets of Birmingham today. The inaugural tram broke a banner to celebrate the opening of the new section of line from Snow Hill station to Bull Street.

Councillor John McNicholas, chair of the Integrated Transport Authority's Transport Delivery Committee, said it was a historic day both for Birmingham and the wider region. He said: "I am delighted that Metro services are now running into the city centre."

“It’s good news for Birmingham but also the wider West Midlands as this extension is expected to create more than 1,300 sustainable new jobs and boost the regional economy by more than £50 million a year.”

Today's opening is only the start, because trams are set to continue soon onwards from Bull Street to New Street station. However, the £128 million project to bring Midland Metro services to New Street is running behind schedule, because they should have arrived in September to coincide with the opening of the enlarged New Street station.

When the Queen named a tram at Bull Street on 19 November, Centro chief executive Geoff Inskip said: "With all tram extensions through city centres at the moment there are always unforeseen challenges, and that makes it difficult to give an exact date for when we will run trams to New Street.”

Works to complete the Bull Street-New Street line have also been scaled down until the New Year, to reduce disruption in the city centre to Christmas shoppers.

New Street will only be the end of the line for a few years, because work has already begun extending the route from New Street Station to Centenary Square. Services are expected to start running in 2019.

Funding has also been earmarked to extend the route still further along Broad Street, past Five Ways and on to Edgbaston by 2021.

The route of the extension through Digbeth has also been chosen, running from Bull Street via Albert Street and on to the forthcoming HS2 high speed rail station at Curzon Street.

From there it would go along New Canal Street and Meriden Street into High Street Deritend, with stops at Digbeth Coach Station and the Custard Factory. It is hoped this the line could be open by 2023.

Midland Metro is also being extended in the Black Country, because a new section of tram line is to be built connecting the present terminus at Wolverhampton St George's with the city's bus and rail stations. Further ahead, there are plans to enlarge the network still further to serve such destinations as Edgbaston, Brierley Hill and Birmingham International Airport.

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  • Chris Green, Huddersfield

    I may not live anywhere near Birmingham - but it's pretty obvious that the quality of transport in Britain's second city is on the up. New Street station has been truly transformed by its recent renovation and the tram network in the city is seeing continued investment.