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Midland Metro start date?

Midland Metro Line One could open on Monday 24 May - trial running commenced on 29 March and, all being well, the Railway Inspectorate's final inspection is likely to be on 13 May. It is believed that solutions have been found for all the problems experienced with the trams, some of which - such as rain affecting the sanding equipment - seem to have been due to 're-inventing the wheel' technologies, whilst others, such as the adoption of a twin bladed windscreen wiper, have overcome original design short-comings. Finishing touches, including the installation of ticket machines at stops are now under way. During the six week trial running period - which is a contractual requirement with infrastructure owners Centro - a ten minute frequency service is being run. If the Railway Inspector gives permission for the line to open to public service the initial frequency is likely to be ten minutes.

Meanwhile the concessionaire Altram has refused to explain the problems which have beset the system at a meeting of the Passenger Transport Authority held in public - the company has said it will only do so in a meeting held behind closed doors. Councillor Richard Worrall, Chair of the West Midlands Passenger Transport Authority has written to the company asking them to reconsider and attend. With nearly all the cost of the £145mhaving come from public funds an unwillingness by the concessionaire to account to the public is clearly stretching the patience of the Passenger Transport Authority. It is believed that Altram's attitude does not reflect the views of all the member companies of the ALTRAM consortium (John Laing,Ansaldo and Travel West Midlands).

7 April 1999

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