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VLR, BRT & Metro in WMCA funding bid


07 August 2020

The West Midlands Combined Authority is asking the Government for cash for Metro extensions, the Sprint bus rapid transit programme, and the very light rail (VLR) project. 

The proposals feature in a £3.2bn three-year Covid-19 recovery plan.

The WMCA is requesting £101m for the Metro light rail routes from Wednesbury to Brierley Hill in the Black Country and the Birmingham Eastside extension from the city centre to Digbeth via the proposed HS2 station at Curzon Street.

Asked what the funding was for, a WMCA spokesman told LTT it was for “potential acceleration of both extensions to bring them into service in advance of their planned dates, for example by constructing and operating the Eastside Extension in parallel with construction works for the HS2 Curzon Street station.” 

The WMCA is requesting £61m for the Sprint bus rapid transit routes on the A34 route Walsall and Birmingham, and the A45 between Birmingham and Solihull. 

It also wants £114m for the very light rail (VLR) project. This would help develop a battery-powered autonomous very light rail vehicle at the  proposed Dudley VLR National Innovation Centre, with testing on the proposed route in Coventry. 

An £84m package for rail stations is presented including upgrading University and Perry Barr stations and bringing back closed lines and stations at Willenhall, Darlaston, Moseley, Kings Heath and Hazelwell. 

A bid for £95m would accelerate “ambitious development plans around the HS2 Interchange station”, releasing land currently planned to be used for car parking and building new infrastructure such as access routes. “This will accelerate the development of commercial development with high-tech manufacturing and innovation facilities.”

The WMCA also wants £35m to develop a network of electric vehicle charging stations.

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