The first implementation of Centro’s West Midlands tram line was opened in 1999 and runs between Birmingham Snow Hill Station and Wolverhampton Centre. I travelled on this route recently and was surprised how pleasant, fast and relaxing it was!
What is the Metro?
Main conurbations along the route are Snow Hill, Sandwell, West Bromwich, Wednesbury, Bilston, and Wolverhampton. The full route has 23 stops and is 20.4km long.
The trams run between Snow hill and Wolverhampton, departing:
5:15am to just after midnight Monday to Saturday
8:00am to 11:45pm Sundays.Bank Holidays
There’s a tram every 6-8 minutes during popular hours and at most every 15 minutes at other times. So, missing your planned tram isn’t too much of a problem. The full timetable is available online.
What’s more you should be able to rely on service promptness as it has its own dedicated line with few chances of interruptions and waiting to enter station platforms!
The whole journey from Birmingham Snow Hill to Wolverhampton shopping centre takes just 35 minutes at an average speed of 35kph. That’s usually quicker than by car especially and substantially so during rush hours!
Centro says it carries more than 5.2 million passengers a year.
What sort of experience is Metro travel?
Knowing how to use buses and trains when I haven’t done the journey before I find a little stressful and in need of research to find out the start/end stops I need. But the Metro couldn’t be easier and more relaxing. Just climb aboard and take a seat. The conductor will spot you and will approach you to buy a ticket. No fear of being fined for not having a ticket. Longer term tickets are available.
The interior is light, clean and in good condition with some high seats with good views of the outside world plus some lower ones to hide from it.
The acceleration from a station is impressive feeling as fast as a car in traffic and is very smooth with a pleasing low volume whine adding to the effect of getting going FAST! Do not think that this is similar to mainline trains – it is much more rapid – 0 to 50kph in 10secs. Maximum speed is 70kmh which means you really feel that you’re getting somewhere fast! And, you won’t get bored because of the variety of scenery and an average of 90secs between stops. There is an automatic stop information voice to nudge you awake from a doze.
The route passes through a mixture of factories, housing and pleasant green areas and finishes up sharing the A41 Bilston Road for 2km running sometimes in the centre and other times sharing the carriage way with road vehicles.
The terminus is only 150 metres from the the Wulfrun Centre – the start of the main shopping area which is well worth a visit. Wolves FC Molineux ground is just over 1km to walk.
What are my conclusions?
The Metro experience is great. It is efficient, green, peaceful, passenger and bystander friendly and a really pleasurable experience – a rarity these days when dealing with large organisations.
Currently, the service is underused. This could be for many reasons but the following seem sound:
There is a lack of advertising.
It is well hidden (especially below ground level at Snow Hill – but this is intrinsically a great attribute).
It does not extend to the active centre of Birmingham City, ie Bullring, Corporation Street, New Street and New Street Station for train interchange.
All of these can be overcome, I feel, if as expected the city extension to New Street Station is built. Then the Metro will be a true star of the West Midlands, one we can exhibit in business and tourist brochures and so increase the investment and tourist icome to the region.