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01-06-2009

Snow Hill Station

Steve Beauchampe marked the tenth anniversary of the Midland Metro tram system by suggesting that the single route we have is all we are likely to get. Former Birmingham Cabinet member for Transport John Tyrell begs to differ.

What a lukewarm celebration of the West Midland Metro's tenth anniversary!

While I agree with many of the points made there are some which are not correct.

When I was Cabinet Member for Transportation a route along the Bristol Road was ruled out although an alternative rapid transport scheme was envisaged like a bus "that thinks it's a tram". Hagley Road, yes, and also Walsall Road.

I very much liked the idea of a link with Vauxhall and Duddeston in view of capacity issues at New Street. Although there are now plans to increase that for how long will it be sufficient?

As I have indicated before the Metro could go underground - or fly if necessary like the Vancouver "Sky Train". Why ever not? Certainly this was raised while the Metro was progressing and "on track" with tunneling through to Digbeth.

A case had to be built. The wilful introduction of a distraction in the form of an "underground" succeeded in killing off any kind of advance in public transport. Now we've got the proposed library instead. Help!

The tram is much more reliable than buses. I use bus, tram and rail frequently. Bus services are a pain, the railway good but too often delayed or cancelled. The tram is quick and reliable with park and ride schemes that are increasingly popular. Tried parking at the Hawthorns recently?

As for Nimbys, well Nottingham proposed, built and was operating its tramway while we in the West Midlands were scratching ourselves. They employed a Public Relations consultant which in this case worked.

I wanted a mock up of a tram in Victoria Square near the Iron Man and much more publicity.

In the end the Nimby's mobilised their councillors to see off Metro and any prospect of a half-decent public transport system in Birmingham. The Metro deserves three cheers not a grudging half of one.

(Oh, and if you look to the left of Snow Hill station there's a platform in place to take the Metro out. I know that provision was made so that it could still go at least to the new New Street Station!)

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