The first of eight new trams due to be delivered to the West Midlands Metro this year has arrived in Wednesbury – by road!
The Urbos 3 tram, which weighs 45.5 tonnes, was shipped from the factory in Zaragoza, Spain, to Bristol, and from there brought by road on a 40-metre-long heavy-haulage lorry.
Manufactured by CAF, the eight trams will be arriving in the West Midlands over the next few months. The first five will be put into service later this year ready for the opening of extensions to the network in Birmingham and Wolverhampton city centres.
A further 13 trams will be delivered in 2023 ahead of the opening of the Metro extension currently under construction between Wednesbury and Brierley Hill. The purchase of the 21 vehicles was part on an £83.5 million deal, signed in 2019 between West Midlands Metro and manufacturer CAF, which also includes technical support and battery management services over 30 years, as well as an option to purchase a further 29 trams as the network grows.
The bright blue trams are able to run under power from overhead electric cables, while recharging the on-board battery ready for cable free sections of track.
Mayor of the West Midlands Andy Street said: “These are incredibly exciting times for the Metro in the West Midlands, as we undergo a huge expansion of the network after decades of under investment.
“With the extension to the Westside of Birmingham nearing completion, and diggers in the ground on both the Wednesbury to Brierley Hill and Birmingham Eastside extensions, it is clear we are going to need significantly more trams in service as we attract more and more people onto the Metro.
“Not only are our trams a quick and easy alternative to the car, but they’re also far more environmentally friendly, helping to reduce air pollution and tackle the climate emergency.”
The section of track between the Grand Central and Library stops in Birmingham city centre, which opened 18 months ago, was the first in the UK to see battery powered passenger trams in regular use.