Ever wanted to get away from the crowds and have your own private train? Well, The Rail Engineer had just that recently – its own private tram from Birmingham Snow Hill station to the Wednesbury depot. Apart from one confused passenger, who was politely asked to wait for the next in-service tram, it was just Rail Media and Midland Metro personnel on the non-stop run.
The occasion was one of the early runs of the new CAF-built trams that will enter passenger service on Friday 5 September. Clean, modern, quiet, comfortable – and air-conditioned; these descriptions all fit the new CAF Urbos 3. Twenty-one are on order, twelve have already been delivered, and there are options for another four.
A 100% low floor design, the new trams are longer (32.4 metres vs 24) and wider (2.65 metres vs 2.44) than the old T69 models that are being replaced. They also hold 210 people, 60 more than the earlier design, which will help increase capacity even without the frequency moving for one every eight minutes to one every six minutes.
Platforms have already been modified to take the new trams, which are elegantly turned out in white, grey and ‘telemagenta’ pink.
With the line due to extend as far as Stephenson Street (for New Street station) next year, and proposed further extensions to Edgbaston and Wolverhampton mainline station on the cards, Midland Metro could well need those extra four trams.