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£31m Midland Metro tram extension from New Street to Centenary Square unveiled

£31m Midland Metro tram extension from New Street to Centenary Square unveiled

🕔05.Sep 2013

Details of a £31 million extension to Birmingham’s Midland Metro tram system have been published days after council leaders were accused of failing to get to grips with transport policy.

The extension is planned to run from New Street Station to Centenary Square, with stops at the Town Hall and the new Library of Birmingham.

Centro, the West Midlands Passenger Transport Executive, made the surprise announcement which came following claims of dithering over the future of the metro.

Deputy Liberal Democrat group leader Jon Hunt used a Birmingham council cabinet meeting to hit out at “confusion” over political changes, which will see the West Midlands Planning and Transportation Committee (WMPTC) replaced by a new Integrated Transport Authority (ITA).

The aim is to deliver faster decision-making on transportation matters. At the moment, the WMPTC has to get approval from the seven West Midlands councils before making decisions. Under the new system, the ITA will have executive powers.

The ITA exists in shadow form at the moment and, according to Cllr Hunt, is behaving like a “rabbit paralysed in the headlights” and unable to take decisions.

He told the cabinet that the future of the metro was “shrouded in confusion”.

“Where is the metro going? Is it going to Centenary Square and Fiveways, or towards the airport? We just don’t know,” Cllr Hunt added.

Three days after his comments, Centro launched a formal consultation process asking for views on a proposed £32 million tram extension to Centenary Square.

Work is currently underway to extend the system to connect the city’s two largest railway stations, New Street and Snow Hill, and beyond to the Jewellery Quarter and the Black Country by 2015.

The proposals, drawn up in partnership with Birmingham City Council, would build on the work taking place to provide further connections to key venues like the ICC, Symphony Hall and Birmingham Museum and Art Galleries.

Trams would run from the new stop on Stephenson Street outside New Street Station, before travelling along Pinfold Street, Victoria Square, Paradise Street and Broad Street before terminating at Centenary Square.

Cllr Roger Horton, Centro’s lead member for rail, said: “Work is already underway to connect the Midland Metro to both New Street and Snow Hill stations and we want to build on that and further improve the network in Birmingham city centre.

“These plans would play a significant role in supporting some of the major redevelopment work taking place in the city which will bring about an extra £2 billion for the economy and create up to 40,000 jobs.

“This extension would provide passengers with a stop right at the heart of some of Birmingham’s key destinations like the new library, the NIA and the ICC.

“We want to hear the thoughts of passengers and businesses and would urge them to take the time to take part in the consultation and give us their views.”

Centro has already received approval to integrate the system with the Paradise Circus redevelopment but are proposing to slightly amend the route to eliminate the need to build a bridge over the Suffolk Street Queensway tunnels.

Centro aims to submit before the end of this year an application to the Government for a supplementary Transport and Works Act Order which would grant the legal powers needed to build and operate the extension.

If granted, work could start could start in 2015 and be open for public use in 2017.

Centro staff will be on hand to answer questions and provide more information at three exhibitions over the coming weeks.

The exhibitions will be held on:

  • Thursday September      5, Victoria Square, 8am – 3pm
  • Wednesday September      11, Victoria Square, 11am – 6pm
  • Tuesday September      24, Victoria Square, 11am – 6pm
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