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Green light but cost up for Metro extension

Light Rail

07 February 2020

The West Midlands Combined Authority has reported a sharp rise to the cost of the one-mile Birmingham Eastside extension to the Midland Metro network, which the Government granted powers to build last week. 

The cost of the double track line, which will serve the proposed HS2 station at Curzon Street, has jumped from £155.7m to £227.2m (outturn cost).

The line will leave the existing Wolverhampton – Birmingham line on Bull Street in Birmingham city centre. Four stops will be built, at: Albert Street; New Canal Street (for the HS2 station); Meriden Street; and High Street Deritend in Digbeth, close to Birmingham’s coach station.

A WMCA spokesman said a number of factors had pushed the cost up. “There has been some inflation since the last assessment in 2017, an extended timescale due to the challenges around the HS2 Curzon Street development, and increases to the project scope with, for example, further improvements to the street scene in Digbeth High Street.”

The WMCA will use £56.5m of prudential borrowing to fill the funding gap. This will be repaid from Metro fare revenues, which, as the operator, it controls. 

The rest of the funding package comprises: £131.7m  from Government; £18.5m from WMCA’s investment programme; £5.5m from the Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership’s Local Growth Fund; and £15.5m from Birmingham City Council.

Transport secretary Grant Shapps last week approved the Transport and Works Act Order application for the extension. 

A full business case for the project will be presented to West Midland Combined Authority’s board next week. It must also be approved by the DfT before construction can begin. Construction could start later this year, with opening in 2025. 

The project will be delivered by the MMA Alliance. 

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