Midland Metro set for expansion as West Midlands handed £250m transport boost

The West Midlands has been handed £250m from the Government to help boost the region’s transport infrastructure.

The bulk of the money is likely to see the long-awaited extension of the Midland Metro from Wednesbury through Dudley to Brierley Hill.

The funding is included as part of the Government’s new £1.7bn Transforming Cities Fund, which aims to improve transport links and promote growth within city regions.

Prime Minister Theresa May will be in the West Midlands today to launch the fund.

The Metro extension will run through Dudley to the new DY5 Enterprise Zone on Merry Hill’s Waterfront. The move ticks a lot of boxes for the Government and the West Midlands Combined Authority and will help to realise the goal of creating around 7,000 new jobs in the Black Country towns.

Of particular significance is the fact that both towns will be linked to the region’s rail network for the first time since the 1960s.

Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands, said: “The Midland Metro extension to Brierley Hill is the WMCA’s priority transport project and the £250m from Government means we can now get underway on a project that is shovel-ready.

“The importance of this extension is difficult to understate. It will open up sites for housing and regeneration and reconnect Dudley and Brierley Hill to the rail network for the first time in decades.

“Perhaps most importantly, it connects the DY5 Enterprise Zone to the network and supercharges proposals to create thousands of jobs in Brierley Hill.”

He said the decision to award the funding owed much to the strong case submitted by Transport for the West Midlands to the Government.

The WMCA will now start to look at other transport projects it wants to fund, including the extension of the Metro through Birmingham city centre to Eastside to connect with the HS2 station at Curzon and the reopening of the Camp Hill line.

The Wednesbury to Brierley Hill Metro extension will run largely along an existing, disused heavy rail corridor. It will deviate from this corridor to access Dudley town centre, Merry Hill and the terminus at Brierley Hill. The route is 11 kilometres long and includes 17 stops, including four provisional stops.

When the line is open commuters in Dudley will be just 40 minutes from the new HS2 station.

Speaking on the TCF itself, Business Secretary Greg Clark said: “The Transforming Cities Fund will address weaknesses in city transport systems in order to raise productivity and spread prosperity. It will fund new local transport links, making it easier to travel between often more prosperous city centres and frequently struggling suburbs.

“This will help make sure people across the country have better options to combine different modes of transport – supporting projects which will improve connectivity, reduce congestion and introduce new mobility services and technology.”