U.K. News - Trams on Birmingham streets soon?

Birmingham (England) - Birmingham City Council announced on 14 January a public consultation process on two options to extend Line 1 of the Midland Metro light rail rapid transit system from its initial terminus at Snow Hill station when it opens in Autumn 1998, and to take it through the city centre to serve the shopping area, the main heavy rail station (Birmingham New Street), the International Convention Centre and the commercial area at Five Ways.

The implication of choosing the first option is that by creating a two way tram route in what is currently a bus/taxi one way only street, a new routeing would have to be found for the many bus routes using Corporation Street. The likelihood would seem to be that buses would be expelled to the inner ring road leaving the heart of the shopping area as pedestrian and tram-only as in a number of Continental and American cities. The full text of the Council's Transportation Department's News Release is reproduced below together with the map of the two options:


Metro system to run on the streets of Birmingham moves a step nearer as public consultation begins to consider the route for the system. Joint Strategy Sub-Committee at it's meeting on 28th January is expected to give the go ahead for the consultation to be carried out late February/March.

Partners Birmingham City Council and Centro have drawn up proposals to bring Midland Metro into the heart of the City. Similar systems are already operating in Manchester, Sheffield and many European cities.The Midland Metro will run on lines along City Centre streets from Snow Hill Station to New Street Station. It will extend the Snow Hill to Wolverhampton Metro line due to open later this year, and is expected to be operational by 2002.

Over two million passengers a year are expected to use the system which will become an important part of Birmingham's transport provision, complementing other forms of transport.

It will greatly enhance the street scene in the heart of the City, providing a high quality public transport system, reducing air pollution and noise and providing an alternative mode of transport for car users.

There are two options for extending Line I from Snow Hill - The first will take Metro down Corporation Street before moving on to serve New Street Station, the gateway through which more than 30 per cent of visitors enter Birmingham every day. From here, via the Town Hall to Broad Street, Metro will serve the city's main business area, lively bars, restaurants, theatres and conference facilities before terminating at Five Ways.

The second option will see Metro move directly from Colmore Circus via Old Square to a reconstructed Masshouse Circus serving Moor Street Station. It will then call at New Street and along Smallbrook Queensway to Paradise Circus and finally along Broad Street.

The engineering work involved, its accessibility to the City's business community, and the wish to proceed with developing the scheme at an early date, points to the Corporation Street route as being the preferred option. It is also less costly than the Masshouse Circus route.

The public consultation will include a presentation to elected Members, a presentation to traders, residents and occupiers of properties along the proposed routes, public exhibitions attended by Officers, and displays at major transport terminals such as New Street and Snow Hill Stations.

Diary of Meetings and Exhibitions:

Councillor Mrs Theresa Stewart, The Leader of Birmingham CityCouncil, said;'Street running Metro in the heart of the City will become an important part of Birmingham's transport provision, providing the people of Birmingham with much improved access to the City Centre. I welcome the consultation and hope that as many people as possible will take the Opportunity to discover more about the benefits of this important system, which endorses Birmingham's position as a major European city".

David Pywell, the Director of Transportation, added: "The development of Street Running Metro must be seen within the overall transport context of the City Centre and the management of increasing access demands being generated by the extensive retail, office and leisure development proposals within the City. The large number of people who use the bus to visit the City Centre will be catered for with a high quality Bus Mall as part of the Bull Ring development, in conjunction with the redevelopment of Masshouse Circus".

MAP OF OPTIONS (Reproduced in 2 parts to aid clarity)

(Reproduced from News Release):

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