The future development of the Metro tram system is organised differently from the Snow Hill to Grand Central one which opened on 30 May 2016. Extensions to the current network will be of great benefit to West Midlands folk and visitors and should encourage new business investment.
The original route of Birmingham Snow Hill to Wolverhampton St Georges opened in 1999 was augmented by the opening of the extension to Birmingham New Street Station/Grand Central on 30 May 2016 (with an interim opening to Bull street on 6 December 2015).
Unforeseen technical difficulties with the central Birmingham infrastructure, amongst other problems, meant that this extension was delayed considerably from the estimates available in 2010.
The metro extension is a great success amongst the city residents and visitors, fulfilling the wishes of people from Wolverhampton and the Black Country towns to visit with ease the nationally famous attractions of central Birmingham such as Grand Central and Bullring.
The Future – Near and Far
The Metro is a very important feature for Birmingham in the future. Many major European cities have invested in this normally traffic-free and rapid means of travel. It’s a must have for a modern city. Birmingham has some catching up to do, but a revamped approach to construction organisation promises a successful future.
The extensions currently planned are as below. The information was obtained from the Midland Metro Alliance website.
IMPORTANT NOTE: The dates are ball park only as unforeseen problems can alter the duration of construction.
The Commence date is the start of construction but the design will have been carried well in advance of this.
The Complete date is when the service is planned to start conveying passengers.
Click here to see a map of the routes (as published by the Metro Alliance on their website).
The Future Construction Business Model
The people behind the latest extensions to the route have used the experiences gained from the extension from Snow Hill to Grand Central/New Street Station to create a new way of structuring the construction projects.
As a result, for future extensions:
- A Business Alliance has been set up to move forward in an efficient and successful manner.
- A number of expert companies with experience of major tram constructions in Europe partners in the Alliance.
- The justification is shared design, risk, reward that involves all parties right from the beginning.
- There will be no major recruitment of contractors on a stage by stage basis as under the previous project structure.
The companies involved in the Alliance are:
- The West Midlands Combined Authority
- The design consortium of Egis, Tony Gee and Pell Frischmann
- Contractor Colas Rail, (supported by their sub Alliance Partners Colas Ltd.; Barhale; Bouygues UK; Auctus Management Group)
Recently, I visited the offices of the multi-company team working in Number 1 Victoria Square.
Currently the office is somewhat crowded accommodating all the cooperating individuals from the various companies, but shortly they will move to more spacious accommodation in Alpha Tower at the city end of Broad Street.
The atmosphere I would describe as energetically electric! A great sign for the success of the project.
The Next Extension – Grand Central to Centenary Square
This is the one that will have a profound effect on office workers and visitors to the attractions surrounding the Centenary Square stop, (and that could be a lifestyle changer for me as I live a stones throw from the square).
The extended route is shown on the map below in yellow.
Click on a marker to display a description of the point or click on the Arrow symbol below to display a key for the map – click again to remove the key.
The start and end points are shown in the photos below. Click on an image for a larger view.
Its design is due to be completed soon with construction work following up to the second quarter of 2019. This will be followed by a period of testing and commissioning leading to an in-service start in late 2019.
This route will be free of gantries and overhead electric supply cables. Trams will carry batteries that get charged en route or at a specific spot, if necessary.
This removes the aesthetic eyesore of power cables slung across and along a route of historical and visual importance, namely Victoria Square, the Council House/Central Library Complex and the glorious treasure of the Town Hall.
All credit to the design team in anticipating and solving the probable protest problem before it arose.
The first tram has been despatched to the manufacturers in Spain for battery fitting.
Advantages of the Route
This very important extension will encourage, ease and enhance the travel experience for many thousands of visitors, local residents and city visitors to visit the splendid attractions of the Centenary Square district:
Library of Birmingham
ICC (International Conference Centre)
Brindley Place – offices, bars and restaurants
Broad Street’s bar attractions
Brindleyplace – bars and restaurants
Regular updates on progress and views of the construction will be published on this website.
More details can be obtained from the Midland Metro Alliance website.
Article by Geoff Caine