Midland Metro 1
FIVE WAYS "DROPPED FROM METRO PLAN"
Plans for a tram link from Birmingham city centre to Five Ways seem to have been quietly dropped as part of a cost-cutting plan to make the next phase of the development more acceptable to the government.
The admission was made by Dudley councillor Angus Adams, who also sits on Centro, the West Midlands’ passenger transport executive.
He said that contrary to reports elsewhere, plans for new lines linking Wednesbury to Merry Hill Shopping Centre, and Snow Hill Station to the revamped New Street hub were, “still full steam ahead."
But when pressed on rumours that Five Ways might be cut out of the planned city centre loop in Birmingham, Adams was less confident, suggesting that this part of the route is no longer among the options being put the Department of Transport.
“Five Ways is a different matter” he said. “The key thing is to push the project on, and show we can get something done."
Local transport officials are thought to be keen to reduce the overall price of the scheme, and Adams' comments echo those of other sources, who've suggested that Centro's interest in linking Five Ways to the city centre is cooling - even though it was included in the original business plan and would serve customers in Broad Street, Birmingham’s prime entertainment quarter.
The area also has a number of major developments coming on stream, including the new Central Library in Chamberlain Square, a major office development at Arena Central, and a revamped Edgbaston shopping centre.
Removing the Five Ways link might reduce the upfront costs and therefore seem superficially more attractive to a government which is backing off from light rail systems – but would also knock a mighty hole in its long-term profits.
As for when we might expect a final proposal for the much delayed scheme, Adams said, “We’re looking at finalising costings which we hope to put on the table soon. It’s difficult to say exactly when, but it won’t be too long – maybe two to three months”.
©2007 The Stirrer