Spades set to hit the ground for new Metro extension to Digbeth

Construction will get underway for the Birmingham Eastside Metro extension when spades hit the ground on Lower Bull Street to make way for a new tramway junction in the city centre next month.

The Midland Metro Alliance, working on behalf of Transport for West Midlands (TfWM), will begin preparatory work to lay new track along Lower Bull Street from Sunday 6 June.

This next phase of works, which will begin with the completion of the remaining utility upgrades and diversions, will mean that Lower Bull Street will close to all vehicular traffic during construction.

Pedestrian and business access will be maintained at all times. Buses serving Lower Bull Street will be diverted to additional stops nearby.

Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands, said: “Officially starting work on the tram line out to East Birmingham is incredibly exciting. Not only are we playing our part in Digbeth’s incredible transformation by linking it to the main transport network, but we’re also helping to protect and create local jobs at such a critical time for many. Major transport projects guarantee significant work for the construction sector and their employees, which is why schemes such as these are so important to get on with. As well as connecting the east and west of Birmingham by tram, this extension will also provide a direct route for many across the Black Country to travel directly to the new Curzon Street station for HS2.

“This is just one of three metro extensions that are currently underway, along with the re-opening of old railway lines and stations, a re-design of our cycling network, and the introduction of electric buses. For decades public transport in this region was under-invested in, but over the past four years I’ve increased our spend seven-fold, and will look to double that again over the next three years. The West Midlands deserves a world-class transport network, and that’s what we’re creating.”

As the project moves forward, further works will be carried out in the summer to connect the new tracks with the existing line at Bull Street ahead of passenger services opening to a new terminus in Edgbaston later this year.

West Midlands Metro (WMM) services will terminate at Bull Street tram stop in the city centre later this summer while these works are carried out and further details will be confirmed over the coming months.

Maria Ion, project director at the Midland Metro Alliance, said: “That we are now gearing up to start main construction on the Birmingham Eastside Metro extension signals a really important step forward in the project and I am excited to see these works get underway. There will be some unavoidable disruption while these works take place but we will continue to work closely with our partners Birmingham City Council, Transport for West Midlands and West Midlands Metro to minimise this wherever possible.”

Metro services are set to return to their regular terminus before autumn 2021 as testing and commissioning work is set to begin for the Birmingham Westside Metro extension to Edgbaston. The work in Lower Bull Street will be completed by spring 2022.

The £227m Birmingham Eastside Metro extension will run from Bull Street in the city centre, to Digbeth, adding four new tram stops to the Metro network. More than half of the 1.7km route is planned to be free of overhead wires, similar to the recently opened extension from Grand Central to Centenary Square.