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Vision for confusion

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Midland Metro and HS2 connections envisaged by Centro

Like everyone else in Birmingham, transport authority Centro were kept in the dark about the HS2 project, including the route, and where the Birmingham station(s) would be. But when the scheme was launched in 2010, Centro was quick to offer support. It announced that future extension of the Midland Metro tramway would include a connection to Curzon Street HS2 station.

At the moment, the Midland Metro terminates at Snow Hill station. The £129 million Birmingham City Centre Extension (BCCE) aims to extend it about 700 metres on-street, to the Stephenson Street side of New Street railway station, by 2015. New Street station is being refurbished as part of the ‘Birmingham Gateway’ development.

The BCCE was originally intended to Five Ways, on the Hagley Road, but this was supplanted by the council’s preference for an extension to Birmingham Airport, to be implemented “after 2015”. As part of its propaganda for HS2, Centro have produced a diagram showing the Midland Metro running from Birmingham city centre to all the way to Bickenhill HS2 station, with an end-on extension from the BCCE at Stephenson Street. Birmingham Gateway and Midland Metro BCCE were retrospectively declared to be components of Birmingham city council’s November 2010 ‘Vision for Movement‘ (VfM).

Birmingham city council Vision for Movement rapid transit plan

Birmingham city council Vision for Movement rapid transit plan

However, under Centro’s 2003 ‘Midland Metro Phase Two Expansion’, the Airport line was shown as branching from the BCCE at the junction of Corporation Street and Bull Street. In the city centre, the route would have been: Lower Bull Street, Carrs Lane, Moor Street, Bull Ring, and Digbeth. This route out of the city centre – about 15 km – would have largely followed the A45 Coventry Road. By late 2010, the A45 route had been removed from the Midland Metro project page on the Centro website. The site carried a press release quoting Alex Burrows, ‘Head of Strategy at Centro’, stating: “Tax increment financing of schemes like the Birmingham City Centre to Birmingham Airport Rapid Transit plan will deliver connectivity between the city centre, Birmingham Business Park and Chelmsley Wood.”

This inferred that the 2003 Airport Midland Metro expansion had been ditched in favour of a completely different route. Centro had previously tried to impose an east Birmingham route for its airport Line 2 in the 1980s and 1990s, running into massive public opposition on each occasion.

On closer inspection of the 2010 Vision for Movement plan, it turns out that the tramway to the HS2 Curzon Street station is not shown as being part of the Midland Metro BCCE, but as a separate ‘rapid transit’ (possibly bus) route between “Eastside” and Centenary Square. The BCCE is shown as terminating at Stephenson Street, the A45 route to the Airport is resurrected, but the link to Bickenhill HS2 isn’t shown.

Public transport planning in Birmingham is in disarray, with schemes being made up by Centro, and Birmingham city council, on the hoof.

2 Responses

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  1. […] Interchange’). An extensive new road network would be needed, and Centro are also planning to extend the Midland Metro tramway to Bickenhill. The costs of taking the tramway out from the city centre […]

  2. […] itself, the largest single item of expenditure planned by Centro is a £500 million tramway from central Birmingham to Bickenhill HS2 station. Labour’s transport team has been looking at the experience of countries including the […]

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