A tram route extension linking Birmingham city centre with Edgbaston and the city’s growing Westside area given go-ahead, by the Department for Transport (DfT).
Five new stops will be served by up to 10 trams an hour at peak when the 2km extension of the Midland Metro, from Grand Central, outside Birmingham New Street station, to Edgbaston opens in March 2021.
The £59.8m pledge from the DfT completes the total £149m funding for the project, with £84m having already been raised locally through the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA), Birmingham City Council, Greater Birmingham & Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership and others.
Transport minister Paul Maynard said: “This new extension will be a further boost to Birmingham businesses, and make travelling to work easier for commuters. But just as importantly, it will help ease the pressure on the roads as it will provide an alternative for getting in and out of the city centre. This is a vital project and one that we are delighted to be able to support.”
The extension will see new stops at the Town Hall, Centenary Square, Brindley Place, and at two further stations either side of the Five Ways roundabout in Edgbaston. The new route will also offer a direct metro link to Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, the International Convention Centre and Symphony Hall.
Preliminary groundworks started in the summer but now final funding for the scheme has been secured from central government, major project works could be set to get underway within weeks.
To limit the impact on Birmingham’s historic city centre and iconic buildings, parts of the route will be built without overhead lines. When this happens, hi-tech batteries fitted to the trams will mean they can run on their own power.
Cllr Bob Sleigh, deputy mayor of the West Midlands, said: “The metro is a real success story for this region and that will continue as new routes are rolled out over the next few years across Birmingham and the Black Country. It is not just these areas that will benefit though as the Metro is key to the WMCA’s vision for strategic growth and regeneration across the West Midlands, bringing huge benefits to everyone who lives and works here.”
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