Updated: Feb 10, 2021
A West Midlands Metro extension linking Digbeth with the city centre has moved a step forward with the much-anticipated light rail route now in the preliminary construction stage following approval by the Department of Transport earlier this year.
The £227m Birmingham Eastside extension will help transform and support the regeneration of Digbeth through improving connectivity and making the most out of HS2. The 1.7km 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 route is planned to be free of overhead wires, similar to the recently opened extension from Grand Central to Centenary Square, and construction for the project includes urban realm upgrades for Digbeth High Street ahead of 2022’s Commonwealth Games.
The Birmingham Eastside Metro extension to Digbeth will serve the High Speed 2 (HS2) station at Curzon Street, separating from the existing West Midlands Metro line at Bull Street. The route is planned to consist of 1.7km of twin track running from Bull Street to a new terminus at High Street Deritend. The scheme includes four additional West Midlands Metro stops serving the east of Birmingham City Centre. The extension will service the Eastside regeneration area offering connections with New Street, Moor Street and Snow Hill Railway Stations, in addition to the new HS2 station. The scheme also includes a new bus interchange adjacent to Clayton Hotel Birmingham to provide an efficient bus, Sprint and coach interchange with HS2.
The extension was made possible following confirmation of funding from the Department for Transport, which has been topped up with prudential borrowing and a £15 million grant from the Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership (GBSLEP) to fund improvements to Digbeth High Street.
In December, Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands, joined representatives from Birmingham City Council, Midland Metro Alliance and the Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership (GBSLEP) at New Bartholomew Street in Digbeth to witness the work taking place first hand as an existing water main beneath the city’s streets is upgraded and future-proofed ahead, benefiting both Metro and HS2 main works.
Beginning earlier in the autumn, the Midland Metro Alliance, working on behalf of Transport for West Midlands (TfWM) has been busy assessing, upgrading and diverting existing utilities along Lower Bull Street, Digbeth High Street and High Street Deritend. The activities, most of which have been taking place overnight to limit disruption to pedestrians and the travelling public, are underway alongside detailed design work for the landmark light rail scheme.
The Midland Metro Alliance, the organisation planning, designing and constructing the tramway, has been keeping those in the local area informed of these recent activities via their dedicated Engagement Team. Further information for stakeholders and the travelling public will be shared in coming weeks as these key preliminary works ramp-up across the city centre and the east of Birmingham.
The project forms the first part of the proposed East Birmingham to Solihull extension which will take the line further east through Bordesley Green and Chelmsley Wood to Birmingham Airport, the NEC and the HS2 interchange station. More information on the project can be found by visiting www.metroalliance.co.uk.