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New Midland Metro Tram in action - and in Wednesbury!

Midland Metro tram No.1
photo - courtesy of Geoff Lusher, Travel Midland Metro

Midland Metro tram No.1 undergoes dynamic testing on the test track inside Firema's plant at Caserta, near Naples, Italy on 19 January 1998.

Tram No 1 is now in the U.K after making the long road journey from Naples to Birmingham.

Keep up to date with the countdown to Midland Metro by reading Metro General Manager Geoff Lusher's monthly diary column in "Tramways & Urban Transit" available from newsagents in the UK and by subscription worldwide. See details on our home page.

"Countdown to Midland Metro" - an extract from Geoff Lusher's diary in the March edition:

"The highlight of the month has been the commencement of dynamic testing of Tram No 1, albeit on a short piece of track, at Firema's plant at Caserta, north of Naples. Maybe a tiny step forward but a giant leap in my mind to see our first tram actually moving along a track. One more stage towards that great day when our first passenger boards and we start earning money.

HM Railway Inspectorate carried out a detailed examination of safety aspects of tram No 1 at Caserta on 26 January as a result of which Ansaldo are proposing to commence the delivery operation early in February. A low-loading 3O metre long trailer will be utilised, with police escort and some night travelling to minimise delays to other traffic. Delivery to Wednesbury is scheduled for mid-February and soon afterwards Ansaldo plan to start dynamic testing within the depot yard.

One interesting aspect is that the details of the driver's cab layout will not be finalised until arrival in the UK, so that the views of our operating staff can be taken into account in positioning the driver's arm and foot rests and certain key switches on the control console. With tram No 2 not scheduled for delivery until early April, this means that any minor modifications can be incorporated into the production run at Caserta. "

To read the rest of Geoff Lusher's column get your copy of "Tramways & Urban Transit" now!

The Plan and Elevational views of the new Ansaldo tram are shown below:

Plan of Midland Metro Tram

Tram No. 1 for Midland Metro arrives on time - Mike Ballinger's pictures and report:

Tram No.1 squeezes under

Tram No. 1 squeezes under bridge on final approach to Metrocentre depot after its long haul from Italy - probably the one and only time it'll go under this bridge, though it will go over it many thousands of times!

Ansaldo Midland Metro Tram No.1

Photos courtesy of Mike Ballinger

Mike writes: "The first vehicle arrived at Immingham on 17 February 1998 circa 7.00 a.m. where Councillor Richard Worrall, chair of WMPTA, met it. The vehicle arrived at Wednesbury circa 15.45. A quick repaint to the front skirt took place before the tram (yes, it is called a tram) was presented to the press at 11.05 on Thursday, 19 February when Cllr. Worrall received the vehicle from Walter Bertini of Ansaldo and Altram.
Alan Chaney, chairman of Altram said, "Today is a very special day indeed. With the track-laying complete and most of the stops nearing completion, the arrival of the first tram is the icing on the cake. The people of the West Midlands can see that their light railway system, the newest in the world, is just around the corner."
David Leeder, chief executive of Travel West Midlands said, "We are fully integrating Midland Metro with local bus services and the local rail network at Snow Hill in Birmingham. Indeed people living at Bilston, Wednesbury and West Bromwich will be able to purchase an integrated metro ticket that will allow them to travel direct to London (sic) and back by Chiltern Trains with a quick change at Birmingham Snow Hill. The key to the success of Midland Metro will be in the quality of the integration of ticketing, bus and train services and ultimately Park and Ride services for car users. We are determined to make Midland Metro a real success."

Editor's note: Mike Ballinger, the LRTA's Area Officer was heard to say, "Hey Phil, don't you think that this would look good going down Hodge Hill Road?". He also commented that Londoners will be pleased to learn that, should they want to go to West Bromwich for a day's shopping, they will be able to buy a through rail/tram ticket in London.
The opening of the system has been put back to circa October 1998 - this is understood to be not just because of pure metro work - some Mercedes low floor buses for connecting services are being delivered late.
Tram No 1 is not fitted out as it will be used for testing and, as Geoff Lusher explains in his monthly column in Tramways & Urban Transit the final positioning of driver controls for the full Midland Metro fleet will be decided upon after trials in the West Midlands with Tram No 1 and to suit the preferences of the Midland Metro drivers."

Geoff Lusher's delighted team, celebrating the arrival of the first of their 15 trams:

Geoff Lusher's delighted team welcome Tram No.1
Photo courtesy of Geoff Lusher

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