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Birmingham tram extensions one step closer

Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott, who was opening the new Park and Ride facility at Wednesbury Parkway, announced that the Government has provisionally accepted the value for money appraisal for the scheme to extend the Midland Metro. The announcement also covered the provision of GBP600m for projects in the Local Transport Plan, details of which will be announced shortly.

The new lines, if approved following TWA procedures, would run from Birmingham Snow Hill to Five ways via the City Centre, and from Wednesbury to Brierley Hill, via Dudley Town Centre and Merry Hill. These would both be extensions to the current Line 1 running between Birmingham and Wolverhampton.

John Prescott said "I am pleased to be able to say that the proposals for the new lines have passed our value for money tests. The scheme must now go through the TWA procedures in order to see whether powers to construct and operate the new lines should be given. I understand the promoters intend to make a TWA application next year."

"In our 10-Year Plan for Transport we said that accessible, integrated and environmentally sound light rail systems could revolutionise public transport in towns and cities. Midland Metro Line 1 is a good example of this, and the Park and Ride facility I opened today is a prime example of integrated transport in action."

Details of the extensions are as follows:

  1. Birmingham Snow Hill to Five Ways via the City Centre (the Birmingham City Centre Tramway) which is 3.2 km in length with 9 stops, a one-way journey time of 13 minutes and an average speed of almost 15kph. The Tramway would extend the existing line 1 from Snow Hill, through the city centre and south west to Five Ways. A major interchange with the heavy rail network would be provided at New Street Station;
  2. Wednesbury to Brierley Hill, via Dudley Town Centre and Merry Hill. This extension is 11.7 kilometres long with 16 stops, a one-way journey time of 23.5 minutes and an average speed of almost 30kph. The extension would run from Wednesbury, on the existing Line 1, via the major development areas of Merry Hill and the Waterfront. The corridor forms part of the South Central Black Country and West Birmingham Regeneration Zone.

The capital cost of the new lines is about GBP165m split between the Brierley Hill line (GBP114m) and the City Centre line (GBP51m). The promoters envisage that both extensions would be constructed under a single contract.

13 December 2000

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