Government funding of £75 million for Centro’s expansion through central Birmingham means the scheme can go ahead.
Centro can now invite companies to bid to supply a new fleet of trams and to build the new maintenance depot at Wednesbury. It also means that the extension from Snow Hill Station to a rebuilt New Street Station remains on course for completion by 2015. The Department for Transport gave the green light after being satisfied that the financial forecasts for the £129 million project were sound.
Says Centro’s Chief Executive Geoff Inskip, ‘We have been working very closely with the Department for Transport since October in determining the final costs of the schemes and we’re delighted that the Government has approved them. It means we can now press on with buying a new fleet of trams for the Metro system and building the maintenance depot.
‘We will be inviting companies to bid for the building of the extension itself next year. This approval keeps us on track to have the Metro extension open to coincide with the completion of the New Street Station Gateway refurbishment.’
New tram lines will link New Street Station with the emerging business district at Snow Hill and the historic Jewellery Quarter. A fleet of new, bigger trams will increase passenger capacity and frequency of service to every six minutes throughout the day.
A £19m scheme to improve rail services on the Coventry to Nuneaton corridor, including two new stations, has been moved into a development pool by the Government. A decision on funding for this will be announced later this year.