Trams return to Birmingham city centre

TRAMS are once again running on the streets of Birmingham as Midland Metro services began operating in the city centre yesterday morning.

Passengers can now travel beyond Birmingham Snow Hill to a new stop in Bull Street, the first step in the opening of the £128m city centre tram extension.

Services began running to the stop on Sunday morning, the first time trams have run in the city since they were withdrawn in 1953.

Building of the Midland Metro extension is being carried out by Centro, the delivery arm of the West Midlands Integrated Transport Authority (ITA).

Councillor John McNicholas, chair of the ITA’s Transport Delivery Committee which oversees Centro, said it was a historic day both for Birmingham and the wider region.

“I am delighted that Metro services are now running into the city centre,” he said.

“It’s good news for Birmingham but also the wider West Midlands as this extension is expected to create more than 1,300 sustainable new jobs and boost the regional economy by more than £50m a year.”

Once complete the Metro extension will see trams from Wolverhampton, via West Bromwich, continue into the city through Bull Street, Corporation Street and Stephenson Street to terminate at New Street station.

Work on the remainder of the city centre extension has been scaled back by Centro for the Christmas period and will resume in the New Year when a completion date will be scheduled.

Work has already begun extending the route from New Street Station to Centenary Square with services expected to start running in 2019.

Funding has also been earmarked to extend the route still further along Broad Street, past Five Ways and on to Edgbaston by 2021.

The route of the extension through Digbeth has also been chosen, running from Bull Street via Albert Street and on to the forthcoming HS2 high speed rail station at Curzon Street.

From there it would go along New Canal Street and Meriden Street into High Street Deritend, stopping at Digbeth Coach Station and the Custard Factory. It is anticipated the line could be open by 2023.

The service is operated by National Express West Midlands.