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BIRMINGHAM: Andy Street grilled over failing Metro services

BIRMINGHAM: Andy Street grilled over failing Metro services

Andy Street. Copright Andy Street.

An investigation into the failings of the Metro has been called by the Mayor following cracks found in the vehicles.

Tram services in the West Midlands were suspended again on November 13 after more cracks were discovered on vehicles.

Temporary repairs were carried out in June, but the operator, West Midlands Metro, said inspectors found chassis cracks to be more extensive, and said permanent repairs were required.

The decision was prompted by West Midlands Mayor Andy Street, who visited the Midland Metro Ltd tram depot in Wednesbury last Friday.

Andy Street, Mayor for the West Midlands, who chairs the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA), said: “The situation with the Metro is incredibly disappointing and frustrating.

“On behalf of passengers I have asked for an independent review to establish what exactly has gone wrong and what changes need to be made in how those in authority are held to account to ensure we avoid this ever happening again.

“It is such an unsatisfactory situation, but I am determined to stand up for passengers and get their questions answered and the Metro back in service as soon as possible.”

But Mr Street had defended the Metro as a sign of people “voting with their feet” to use the public transport.

Last Thursday at a media event with Prime Minister Boris Johnson and transport secretary Grant Shapps last Thursday, the Mayor, said: “People will still use the Metro, as they were doing across the West Midlands before the pandemic, because the public transport is greener, it’s very affordable, and actually, for the most part, it’s reliable.

“We have a problem with the Metro at the moment. We will get the Metro back. And what we saw with the Metro was a huge increase in patronage, so people are voting with their feet, want to use it, and it’s going to be extended across the whole West Midlands.

“I’m very confident that it’s part of our solution for the future.”

Local news reports claim trams will no longer reach Hagley Road until the new year, with tens of thousands of commuters and shoppers heading into Birmingham and Wolverhampton now affected as the Christmas season begins.

Some trams will still be seen running in the weeks ahead, but they will either be new models being tested, repaired trams being tested or drivers being trained. None will carry passengers.

Tickets are being accepted on National Express West Midlands 74 and 79 buses; as well as West Midlands Railway services between Birmingham and Hawthorns/Wolverhampton.

Only Metro, nBus plus Metro, nNetwork and concessionary passes will be accepted.

Councillors sitting on the WMCA are desperate to get services running on the line ahead of the Christmas rush.

Cllr Ian Ward, WMCA portfolio holder for transport and leader of Birmingham City Council said: “The tram is an essential and valued part of our regional transport network. However I have had serious concerns about the Metro construction for some time so welcome the independent review.

“The passengers and businesses have been badly let down and we owe it to them investigate this fully.”

Many have called for the Birmingham Clean Air charge to be suspended while trams were out of action and others slammed the ‘unreliability’ of public transport in and around the West Midlands.

There have been other unrelated issues with part of the Metro track in Birmingham along Bull St and Corporation St being dug up and replaced.

Eight million journeys were made on the network in 2019-20, according to figures from the Department for Transport.

Words: Rhi Storer, Local Democracy Reporter


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