Work on Midland Metro extension to start this month

INFRASTRUCTURE and construction group Balfour Beatty is to start work on extending the Midland Metro through Birmingham city centre this month.

Following completion of detailed design and advanced works, the real work is about to start with an operational service scheduled for introduction by 2015.

The project involves delivering a 1.4 kilometre extension linking Birmingham’s Snow Hill and New Street railway stations, delivering more than 3.5m passengers a year to the city’s retail quarter for Centro, the region’s transport authority.

London-headquartered Balfour Beatty is responsible for designing, constructing, testing and commissioning the new £18.6m tramway.

It is intending to team its professional services division, Parsons Brinckerhoff, with its in-house civil engineering and rail expertise for the project.

The firm has plenty of experience in metro design, perhaps most recently from its work on the London Crossrail project.

The Birmingham project involves substantial improvements to the street scene and public realm including natural stone paving, street furniture, lighting and landscaping.

Centro’s chief executive Geoff Inskip said: “This is a prestigious project in the heart of Birmingham which demands a construction partner of the calibre of Balfour Beatty.

“We worked with Balfour Beatty last year when they built the Metro bridge for us over Great Charles Street. That was a clear demonstration of their proven track record in delivering projects on budget and on time.”

Balfour Beatty has joined forces with the Employment Access Team (EAT) which connects jobseekers in the Birmingham area with employment, education and training opportunities.

During the scheme Balfour Beatty will provide up to 1,000 weeks of employment for local people and has formalised agreements with its supply chain to achieve local recruitment levels of 75%.

Bill Gifford, director of operations for Balfour Beatty, said: “We have a long standing presence in the West Midlands, so we’re delighted to be delivering a scheme that will contribute so significantly to the region’s economic and social prosperity.

“We are also committed to helping build lasting communities, and as a local employer we want to make sure that throughout the duration of the project, we’re helping to support those who are currently unemployed to get back to work.”