Operational launch of first extension of Birmingham tram network

12/11/2019

On 11 December 2019, the new extension of the Birmingham light rail network was introduced into service following two-and-a-half years of engineering work and several weeks of tests. This was a proud moment for the Egis teams who worked on the project alongside Pell Frischmann and Tony Gee in the “Designer” consortium in which Egis is the main engineering consultancy.

AN ORIGINAL PROJECT ORGANISATION

The extension of the West Midlands Metro network, which will comprise of a number of new extensions, aims to further city development in a metropolitan region with several urban centres and reinforce connections between the communities making up the area.

One of the specificities of the project is its organisation. This revolves around an “Owner / Designer / Contractor” alliance which jointly establishes annual budgets and shares risks and opportunities between its members. This concept originated in Australia, where it is commonly used for major infrastructure or public works projects.

The Midland Metro Alliance was  formed on 4 July 2016, bringing together an unprecedented team combining local and international experience and offering the skills and commitment required to deliver the project. Construction began in June 2017 and the handover to operator MML (Midland Metro Limited) took place on 17 November, marking the beginning of the testing and commissioning procedure.

The project enabled the line to be built and operated without an overhead line on this extension running from Grand Central Station to an iconic Birmingham landmark, Centenary Square. The new line section now provides tram services to the International Conference Centre (ICC), the British headquarters of the HSBC bank and the Library of Birmingham.

The second section of the city centre extension to Edgbaston is planned to open in 2021. Another project will  run from Wednesbury further into the Black Country and the towns of Dudley and Brierley Hill.

Egis’s teams have been working on this project since July 2016, contributing to all the project cycle stages, and more specifically in shop drawings, construction supervision and commissioning.

AN AWARD-WINNING PROJECT

For this project, Midland Metro Alliance received the Outstanding Engineering Achievement of the Year award at the Global Light Rail Awards held in London in October 2019. This distinction is a tribute to the first light rail service in the UK running on a battery and without overhead lines.

Photo credit: Midland Metro Alliance