The construction of a significant structure for the Wednesbury to Brierley Hill Metro extension has entered the final stages of delivery in an important milestone in the development of the light rail scheme.
The purpose-built infrastructure, which stands at over 6.2m tall will serve as the junction between the new extension and the existing operational route, is being delivered by Midland Metro Alliance, the organisation designing and delivering Metro expansions on behalf of Transport for West Midlands (TfWM), since 2022.
Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands, and Councillor Peter Hughes, Sandwell Council Cabinet Member for Regeneration and the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA), visited the structure today (Friday 2 February 2024) to see the feat of engineering in its near final state.
Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands, said: “This is a crucial milestone in the construction of the new extension through Sandwell and Dudley and will link the new extension to the existing line. Talked about for decades, we’re now actually making it happen. We’re now within touching distance and set to see a service open to Dudley within a year. This is good news for local people and businesses in Sandwell and Dudley who can look forward to a rapid and frequent tram service offering vastly improved links to the wider region. Our investment in the Metro offers residents a convenient alternative to the car, helps us tackle the climate emergency and draws in investment that supports the regeneration of our much-loved towns and cities.”
Councillor Hughes, added: “The progress witnessed today is a testament to the hard work and dedication of all involved. This development will boost Sandwell’s sustainable public transport options and I was very pleased to see another piece of this important route brought into being. This additional link across the Black Country to Birmingham will play a crucial role in the continued growth of the local community.”
The much-anticipated route is part of Transport for West Midlands’s commitment to improving the region’s public transport infrastructure and services.
Councillor Mike Bird, WMCA portfolio holder for transport and leader of Walsall Council said: “The Wednesbury to Brierley Hill extension is just one part of a package of more than £2 billion the WMCA is investing in infrastructure and services over five years to 2027 to deliver a transport revolution for the region. This includes the construction of six new railway stations, more bus lanes, more electric buses, more safe cycle routes and facilities and the development of ground-breaking technology such as very light rail.”
As the project enters its final phase, preparations are underway for a crucial next step which will see the new track integrated with the existing operational line during the Easter period.
These essential activities will result in some disruption to West Midland Metro services with no operations between Wednesbury and Birmingham City Centre from Saturday 23 March until Tuesday 9 April 2024 (inclusive).
During this time, Sandwell Council will also take the opportunity to complete the demolition and construction of Dudley Street bridge which spans the Metro line near the Dudley Street Guns Village stop. This work will continue for up to a further six weeks and will require some changes to evening services between Wednesbury and Edgbaston Village, to ensure that the team are able to work safely on their activities.
Alternative travel options will be available throughout to minimise the inconvenience caused to anyone affected by these changes. Further information, including revised timetables and alternative travel arrangements will be available from the operator’s website in the coming weeks.
Throughout both phases of work, Metro services between Wolverhampton and Wednesbury will be unaffected, ensuring continued provision on this part of the route.
Sophie Allison, Managing Director of West Midlands Metro, said: “We understand the impact that these essential works will have on our customers and appreciate their patience during this period of disruption. The temporary adjustments to services, which will begin at Easter, will take us a step closer to connecting more communities across the region with our enhanced network.”
West Midlands Metro is working closely with the MMA, TfWM and Sandwell Council to help minimise disruption while the works are underway and have teamed up to provide the following advice:
- Plan ahead and leave more time for your journeys, especially if you usually use the Metro to travel to and from Birmingham, as you’ll need more time for your journey;
- Follow @wmmetro on social media for real time updates;
- Consider working from home, if possible, during the works;
- Consider a change to how you travel – such as travelling using an alternative mode or walking or cycling for shorter journeys;
The Wednesbury to Brierley Hill Metro extension will boost public transport in the Black Country, providing much-needed links to the existing heavy and light rail networks, and helping to connect people to education, training and career opportunities further afield in the West Midlands. When the first phase of the route opens to the public, an additional nine stops will be added to the West Midlands Metro network linking people in Dudley town centre to both Birmingham and Wolverhampton.