Metro extension to the Digbeth moves closer as utility diversions well-underway


In Summary

General | 10th December 2020
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.

In Detail

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 the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games.

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.

Today, Mayor of the West Midlands Andy Street 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.

Mayor of the West Midlands Andy Street said: “Major transport infrastructure projects are critical to helping our economy bounce back from the coronavirus pandemic. Guaranteeing significant work for the construction sector helps to both create and protect local jobs for local people, and I am therefore delighted that we’ve been able to press ahead with the Eastside extension with residents now starting to see work become more visible around the route.

"This scheme would not have been possible without significant funding coming from the Government earlier this year, and I want to thank both the Department for Transport and the Treasury for backing the West Midlands and our plans to make major changes to our public transport network after decades of under investment.

"This extension will not only connect the east and west of Birmingham by tram, but also provide a direct route for many across the Black Country to travel directly to the new Curzon Station for HS2. This is just one of three metro extensions that are currently underway, along with the re-opening of old railway lines and stations, a re-design of our cycling network, and the introduction of electric buses.”

Beginning earlier in the autumn, the Midland Metro Alliance, working on behalf of Transport for West Midlands (TfWM) have 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.

Cillr Ian Ward, West Midlands Combined Authority portfolio holder for transport and leader of Birmingham City Council, said: “It’s exciting to see this work become more noticeable in recent weeks. Those working and living in the city have benefited from the extension of the West Midlands Metro to the west of Birmingham and now those who travel to and from Digbeth will be delighted to see that this massive project is well underway bringing these same benefits to the east.”