Midland Metro services to return to Birmingham city centre

Trams will return to the streets of Birmingham for the first time in more than 60 years when Midland Metro services start running into the city centre on December 6.

The announcement by Centro will see passengers taken directly to a new stop in Bull Street as the first step in the opening of the £128 million city centre tram extension.

Traders gearing up for the busy festive shopping period also issued a resounding ‘Open for Business’ message today after Centro announced a scaling back of tram works in the run up to Christmas.

Services will run to the new Bull Street stop from Snow Hill from December 6 while works further down the line will be scaled back over Christmas following talks with city centre traders.

The decision has been taken in order to minimise disruption in the crucial festive trading period and provide the best Christmas shopping experience possible for the millions of visitors expected to pour into the city over the coming weeks.

However, those visitors will see trams running along Corporation Street to New Street Station as Centro aims to carry out testing and commissioning of the entire 0.7 mile (1.2km) extension during December.

Passenger services to New Street Station will start once all infrastructure work and test running has been successfully completed.

Centro chief executive Geoff Inskip said: “We recognise this is a vital time of year for retailers and they need to provide the most attractive shopping environment possible, which is why we have scaled back our works.

“Doing so shows Birmingham is very much open for business and can lay on a truly magical festive atmosphere for everyone coming to the city.

“There has been a tremendous effort from everyone involved in this project with people working around the clock in recent weeks. I would particularly like to thank Retail Birmingham for all its support and co-operation.

“It is because of that hard work that we will be able to start running trams into the city centre at Bull Street before Christmas.

“However, as with all tram extensions through city centres at the moment there are always unforeseen challenges and that makes it difficult to give an exact date for when we will run trams to New Street Station.”

Trams last ran on the streets of Birmingham city centre in 1953.

Centro’s decision to reduce construction work has been warmly welcomed by Retail Birmingham, which is hoping for bumper Christmas crowds again this year.

The organisation, which represents city centre businesses, said the Frankfurt Christmas Market alone attracted more than 5.5 million visitors last year, helping to generate a major shot in the arm for the local economy.

Jonathan Cheetham, the chair of Retail Birmingham, said: “We are delighted that Centro have considered the needs of businesses in Birmingham in this vital trading period.

“We are looking forward to the New Year and the delivery of the tram through to New Street in yet another phase in the aspirations to achieve world class connectivity in transport throughout the city.”

The £128 million tram extension, which includes a £40 million fleet of new trams, is expected to create more than 1,300 sustainable new jobs and boost the regional economy by more than £50 million a year.

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

Outline funding approval is also earmarked to extend the route still further along Broad Street, past Five Ways and on to Edgbaston by 2021.

The route of a further extension through Digbeth has also been chosen, running between the Bull Street/Corporation 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.


Post Courtesy of www.centro.org.uk