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Track alignment works delay new Midland service

Midland Metro service

The launch of Midland Metro services to Birmingham’s New Street station has been delayed, following safety checks by Centro, the delivery arm of the West Midlands Integrated Transport Authority.

Services were scheduled to start running from Bull Street to Stephenson Street from 22 May but have now been put on hold for further track alignment works.

“It is bitterly disappointing as everything else is in place and ready to go but, as we have said right from the start, safety is paramount,” said Centro Midland Metro programme director Phil Hewitt.

He said that a “stringent testing programme” had identified minor anomalies in some of the track alignment which needed to be addressed.

“These are exactly the sort of issues the tests were designed to identify,” said Hewitt. “However, remedial work is relatively straightforward.

“Once that is complete, on-street driver training can begin and we will soon have passenger services running.”

Trams returned to the streets of Birmingham for the first time in more than 60 years last December when the Metro started running to the new stop in Bull Street.

Work began on the 1.2km scheme in 2012 and is part of a £128M project which has seen the introduction of a new fleet of 21 Urbos 3 trams, a refurbished depot at Wednesbury and a new stop at Snow Hill station in Birmingham.

Centro said that the scheme was expected to boost the West Midlands economy by more than £50M a year and create 1,300 new jobs.

The Midland Metro runs between Birmingham and Wolverhampton, serving locations such as the Jewellery Quarter, West Bromwich, Wednesbury and Bilston, and will deliver more than 3M people a year directly into the heart of Birmingham’s main shopping district.

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