A major milestone has been achieved on the Birmingham Eastside Metro extension following the installation of the first section of track in Digbeth.
A total of 45 metres of double track is now in place between Meriden Street and Digbeth High Street, highlighting swift progress since the construction team fully returned to site last month following a brief pause in some activity due to the Commonwealth Games.
The Midland Metro Alliance (MMA), which is designing and delivering the extension on behalf of Transport for West Midlands (TfWM), spent more than 10 hours successfully installing the rail and sleepers overnight on the city centre bound track, with sleepers also installed on the line heading towards the eventual site of the Digbeth terminus.
Councillor Liz Clements, Birmingham City Council’s Cabinet Member for Transport, said: “I’m really pleased to see that good progress is being made on the Birmingham Eastside Metro extension. Not only is it a significant milestone, it allows people to visualise what the area will look like when the trams are in operation. This Metro extension is a key part of Birmingham’s response to the challenge of climate change and this new route will provide a sustainable option for travel across the city.”
Construction got underway in Digbeth in summer 2021 and since then the team has made significant progress on urban realm works, which are part of Birmingham City Council and the Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership’s (GBSLEP) masterplan to regenerate the area. These works include the creation of wide areas of attractive public and green spaces together with improvements to walking and public transport provision.
Anita Bhalla, interim chair at GBSLEP, said: “This latest milestone highlights the progress our partners are making on the Birmingham Eastside Metro extension – one of the major projects we are delivering as part of our Enterprise Zone Investment Plan. When complete, it will improve local connectivity into the new HS2 Curzon Street station and create a better environment for pedestrians, cyclists, and public transport users.”
Hamish Falconer, construction manager at MMA, added: “We are all extremely delighted to have reached this important stage of the construction progress. The benefit of installing this section of rail at this point in the programme, means that, once the permanent road surface is installed in the coming weeks, we will not have to revisit this area. We appreciate that our works can cause disruption and we will continue to work closely with partners to minimise this where possible.”
The Birmingham Eastside Metro extension will run from Bull Street, in the city centre, to Digbeth, adding four new tram stops to the Metro network. More than half of the 1.7km route is planned to be free of overhead wires, similar to the extension from Grand Central to Centenary Square.
Image credit: Midland Metro Alliance