New alliance formed to build Midland Metro extensions

The Midland Metro Alliance will be launched early next month to bring together a team of planning, design and construction specialists to build four light rail extensions in the West Midlands over the next ten years.

The alliance, which replaces the traditional model of appointing contractors and designers on a project-by-project basis, is due to be launched on 4 July. Members of the alliance are the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA), owners of the Midland Metro light rail line, contractor Colas Rail and its partners Colas Ltd, Barhale, Thomas Vale and Auctus Management Group. A consortium of consultancies completes the alliance and these are Egis Rail, Tony Gee and Pell Frischman. 

Councillor Roger Lawrence, leader of the City of Wolverhampton Council and WMCA lead for transport, said: “Alliancing agreements are a dramatic departure from traditional contracting methods as staff work as an integrated team and tie the commercial objectives of all parties to the actual outcome of the project.” 

Work is currently ongoing on a Midland Metro extension from Birmingham New Street station to Centenary Square, with services expected to start running in 2019. Funding has also been targeted to extend the line to Edgbaston by 2021. 

A route has also been selected for a Metro branch to serve the future HS2 station at Curzon Street, then running to Digbeth Coach Station and the Custard Factory. Opening of that branch is planned by 2023. Legal powers have also recently been granted for an £18m extension of the other end of the line to Wolverhampton station, which is due to open in 2019. A business case is also being prepared for a route from Wednesbury to Brierley Hill. 

Midland Metro Alliance director, Iain Anderson, said that the establishment of the alliance would allow for greater certainty and create a collaboration that would lead to greater efficiencies and the delivery of an effective outcome for end users. 

“The scale of the proposed development programme, and the commitment to a ten-year duration provides us with a unique opportunity to develop efficient bespoke solutions, build long-term relationships with key stakeholders and to play a major role in the enhancement of the communities within which we will be operating”, Anderson said.

The WMCA has assembled a team which it said would "share the risks and rewards" of delivering the four tram projects, with a focus on how the alliance partners worked together and with stakeholders, businesses and the community.

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