Trams tested on new section of West Midlands Metro

Trams have run for the first time on a battery power-only extension to the West Midlands Metro network, linking Birmingham New Street with nearby Victoria Square.

Test runs on the newly-installed tracks – the first time a UK tram has used battery power in an area specifically designed without overhead power lines – took place outside normal operating hours.

Followed by a team of Midland Metro Alliance engineers, an Urbos 3 tram was used to test the first part of the planned 1.2-mile (2km) Westside extension.

Further trials will run over the coming weeks, the Midland Metro Alliance said, before the project’s full testing and commissioning programme starts in October.

It is anticipated that passenger services will launch in December.

Commenting on the success of the initial test, West Midlands Mayor Andy Street said: “It is fantastic to see that final preparations are now under way to start services from Grand Central to Centenary Square, with all the benefits that will bring to Birmingham city centre and the wider West Midlands economy.”

Waseem Zaffar, Birmingham City Council cabinet member for transport and environment, said of the milestone: “The overnight tests are another important indicator that the construction work is coming to an end, and that those living, working or visiting the city can now anticipate the extension of fast, clean, reliable and eco-friendly trams throughout more of the city.”

Once completed, work on the Westside extension, which began in June 2017, will allow trams to operate between Grand Central and Hagley Road in Edgbaston.

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