Transport for West Midlands (TfWM) has been awarded £60 million towards completion of the next phase of the Wednesbury to Brierley Hill Metro extension.
The Government cash windfall was announced with the region’s Deeper Devolution Deal and will be used as a springboard to secure the remaining funding needed to build and open the section of the route between Dudley town centre and Brierley Hill.
TfWM, which is part of the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA), will now look in detail at further funding opportunities and options available to get the project over the line.
Last year, as a result of rising construction costs and reduced fare income during the Covid 19 pandemic, a decision was taken by the WMCA Board to split the extension in two – with phase one the section between Wednesbury and Flood Street in Dudley. This is currently under construction and due to open to passengers next year.
Phase two will continue the line, including a stop at Merry Hill Shopping Centre. This rapid transit service will both support local businesses and offer residents improved links to jobs and leisure opportunities in Dudley, West Bromwich, Wolverhampton and Birmingham.
Andy Street, the Mayor of the West Midlands and chair of the WMCA, said: “A number of public infrastructure projects are facing understandable cost challenges given the prevailing winds of inflation and supply chain pressures. Metro extension schemes are also subject to this wider context so we took the difficult decision last year to pause work on phase two whilst retaining our commitment to delivering the scheme.
“In our subsequent efforts to seek out the necessary funding, our newly negotiated Devolution Deal has provided a breakthrough. This additional £60 million from Government acts as a springboard for the completion of the scheme as it now puts us in a strong position to secure the remaining funding required to get this extension finished at the earliest opportunity.”
Cllr Patrick Harley, leader of Dudley Council, added: “Today’s announcement by the Chancellor is fantastic news for the borough, and hugely welcomed by this authority.
“We have always been absolutely committed to completing the Metro extension in full, and this £60 million will give us a real springboard to secure the rest of the cash we need to make the second phase a reality. It will also see cash come in to create jobs and breathe new life into the areas around the Metro routes.
“I’ve always been a big advocate in giving local politicians, who know their areas best, the power to make their own decisions regarding funding. The Deeper Devolution Deal announced today is a huge step in the right direction in that regard.”
The WMCA Board is set to revisit phase two and consider funding options at its meeting in June.
Image credit: TfWM