The expansion of the existing Wolverhampton to Birmingham Metro tram system has begun in extending the line from Snow Hill station to New Street station in central Birmingham.
In a night time operation over five days in central Birmingham, the new Metro bridge over Great Charles Street Queensway (the important tributary of the Aston Expressway through the city), was constructed from pre-cast concrete beams. It required workmen from Balfour Beatty working throughout the nights following detailed planning of the operation. The Queensway had to be closed overnight on each day for the operation.
It’s great that the construction has started and we look forward to the next steps which we will report on this blog.
Article by Geoff Caine
Here are some extra photos (all photos supplied by Centro) followed by a press statement supplied by Centro. Click on an image for a larger view.
The first phase of a new £3.19m bridge which will take the Midland Metro into the heart of Birmingham has been completed.
The massive concrete beams on which the new Metro track will rest have been placed over Great Charles Street Queensway at Snow Hill station.
Centro, the integrated passenger transport authority for the West Midlands, began work on the bridge within days of the Government’s announcement in October that the Metro extension through Birmingham city centre would be going ahead.
The bridge will bring Metro services off the existing approach to Snow Hill station and over a £9m viaduct – constructed as a contribution by developer Ballymore – from where it will go through the city centre to New Street station.
The pre-cast concrete beams are up to 21m in length and weigh up to 25 tonnes.
They were deftly lowered into place by workmen from Balfour Beatty in a night-time operation over five days that saw Great Charles Street closed overnight.
The operation was tricky because of the close confines of the site – with the rail line on one side and the A38 running beneath there was little margin for error when manoeuvring the beams into place.
Centro’s plans to extend the Metro will create 1,300 sustainable new jobs and boost the West Midlands economy by £50m a year as a fleet of new, bigger trams increase passenger capacity between Birmingham and the Black Country.
Centro chairman Councillor Angus Adams said: “I am delighted that we have already reached this milestone phase of the project, a significant step towards fruition.
“The Midland Metro extension is massively important for the future prosperity of the Midlands which is why we wasted no time in getting to work.”
Centro chief executive Geoff Inskip said: “This is an exciting chapter in the story of the Midland Metro.
“People can now see taking physical shape a scheme that is going to unlock so many jobs and economic benefits for the entire region.”
The new bridge utilises a former rail bridge abutment and pier and lands on the new viaduct alongside Snow Hill Station.
It is due to be completed during the Spring of 2011. Design work for the on-street section of the Metro extension is underway and preliminary site works are expected to commence in 2012.
Trams will follow a route from the existing Metro terminus at Snow Hill, along the viaduct built by Ballymore, down Upper Bull Street and Corporation Street then on to Stephenson Street before stopping outside a new entrance at New Street Station.
The route will also provide a fast link from New Street Station to the emerging business district at Snow Hill and serve as a platform for a future rapid transit network that can connect and feed into the city’s forthcoming High Speed Rail terminus.
The total cost of the scheme is £127m with £55m of that paying for the 1.3km long extension.