Call all stops - City centre extension reaches New Street
Monday 30th May saw trams running the full length of the city centre extension as they reached New Street Station after a week of training. The extension was due to open on 22 May but was delayed following safety concerns followed by a week of training for drivers.
The extension is the first stage of the Midland Metro's expansion with the approval for the next extension to Centenary Square, http://birminghamcentral.blogspot.co.uk/2016/05/no-more-tears-ozzy-tram-for-metro.html, and funding earmarked to extend the route to Edgbaston and routes planned into Digbeth.
The opening of the Bull Street stop has already seen an increase in passenger numbers and the extension to New Street Station and Grand Central shopping centre should see further increases.
Peter Coates, managing director of National Express West Midlands which operates the Metro on behalf of Centro, said: "It's excellent that customers can now get the Midland Metro to and from Grand Central and New Street Station.
"Since we started running to Bull Street, we've seen 23% more passengers on the trams.Now the extension is open we look forward to passenger numbers continuing to grow."https://plus.google.com/100274807896580852955/posts/DWgGjJVmsnv
Work has already begin on extending the route to Centenary Square. The extension will see the UK's first battery-operated trams, negating the expense of overhead wires, and increasing construction.
Catenary-free running is due to be introduced on four sections of the Midland Metro route, with predicted immediate savings of £650,000 and greater savings longer term because there will no longer be a need to make infrastructure changes to buildings and roads to accommodate overhead lines.http://www.railtechnologymagazine.com/HS2/birmingham-to-introduce-uks-first-battery-operated-trams-/132168
The extension to New Street means the Midland Metro now joins other UK light rail routes in running through their city centre's, for example Nottingham, Sheffield, Manchester and Edinburgh. The advantage of being somewhat late in this milestone is the new battery-operated sections will mean Birmingham's most important public squares will be free from wires and, hopefully, this should see the network increase to match the appetite for a comprehensive city public transport network.
The following photos show the tram in operation on 31st May.