Plans for the £200m extension of the Midland Metro from Wednesbury to Brierley Hill have been handed to the Secretary of State for Transport, Chris Grayling.
Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands, and Laura Shoaf, managing director of Transport for West Midlands (TfWM), formally presented the business case for the new seven-mile extension of the Metro at the House of Commons.
The new line from Wednesbury to the new DY5 Enterprise Zone at Brierley Hill would see the Metro run through Great Bridge, Horseley Heath, Dudley Port, Dudley town centre, the Waterfront and Merry Hill, before terminating at Brierley Hill town centre.
It is the first of a series of proposed extensions to the route which currently runs from Wolverhampton to Birmingham.
This includes extensions to Wolverhampton interchange and the HS2 terminal at Curzon Street in Birmingham. The Brierley Hill route forms part of longer-term ambitions to link the Black Country to the HS2 network, making Dudley town centre just 40 minutes to the HS2 terminal by tram.
Andy Street said:
“I said in my manifesto that starting work on this project during my first three years in office was a priority and securing the funding is the first step, which is why I wanted to see the Secretary of State so quickly.
“The leaders of the local authorities within the West Midlands Combined Authority have done a first class job in developing the plans to this stage. Now we need to secure the final funding.
“It is hard to understate just how important this project is to the Black Country.
“The business case shows that for every pound invested in this project, it will return £2.50 for the local economy.
“It will align employment, education, health and tourism along the corridor, stimulating investment in the Black Country and enabling the building of 50,000 homes and bringing 170 hectares of brownfield land.
“It will also be important for passengers. It will more than halve journey times from some of the stops along the route into central Birmingham.
“This is the start of the conversation about how as a region we can look at new ways of working with Government to use new mechanisms of funding and finance to deliver transformational projects like this.”
Cllr Roger Lawrence, lead member for transport for West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA), of which TfWM is a part, said:
“This is a major milestone for the Wednesbury-Brierley Hill extension and fantastic news for the people of Dudley, Sandwell and the wider West Midlands.
“Once this link is open it will connect key locations such as Merry Hill and Dudley town centre to the wider transport network for accessing the national rail network and HS2 and, eventually, Birmingham Airport.
“The Midland Metro is key to the WMCA’s plans to grow our economy, and this extension will help bring more jobs and greater prosperity not just to the Black Country but across the region as a whole.”