The UK’s largest infrastructure group, Balfour Beatty, has been named as the preferred bidder to build an extension of the Midland Metro through Birmingham city centre.
Centro, the region’s transport authority, has appointed Balfour Beatty to develop a ‘best and final offer’ for the exciting project which will see trams run along some of the city’s best known streets.
Over the next few months Balfour Beatty will be working with Centro’s project team and key stakeholders to finalise the design and construction proposals.
The extension will provide a fast link between Birmingham's two major rail stations and deliver more than 3.5 million passengers a year right into the heart of the city's shopping district.
It is one element of a wider £127 million project that will see a fleet of 20 new trams for the Midland Metro system, which runs between Birmingham and Wolverhampton.
Centro’s Chief Executive Geoff Inskip said: “This is a prestigious project in the heart of Birmingham and it demands a construction partner of exactly the pedigree and calibre of Balfour Beatty.
“We worked with Balfour Beatty last year when they built the Metro bridge for us over Great Charles Street. That was a clear demonstration of their proven track record in delivering projects on budget and on time.”
Bill Gifford, Regional Managing Director for Balfour Beatty Civil Engineering, added: “We are delighted to be working with Centro to help deliver this important scheme for the city.
“We have built an excellent relationship with Centro which will continue and help ensure the successful delivery of this prestigious scheme.”
The extension will see trams follow a route from the existing stop at St Paul’s via a new Snow Hill stop and then along a £9 million viaduct already built by developer Ballymore.
It will then go down Upper Bull Street, Corporation Street and on to Stephenson Street, stopping outside a new entrance at a rebuilt New Street Station.
The extension is scheduled for completion in 2015 with major work starting on street in early 2013.
The new fleet of trams, which are to be built by Spanish manufacturer CAF, will start running in 2014, bringing major benefits to Metro in the Black Country by increasing passenger capacity and frequency of service to every six minutes throughout the day.
Meanwhile contractor Morgan Sindall has already begun work on a £13 million extension of the Metro maintenance depot at Wednesbury and other elements of the £127 million project include platform modifications on the existing line.
The joint project by Centro, the Black Country and Birmingham City councils, is expected to boost the West Midlands economy by £50 million a year and create up to 1,300 sustainable new jobs.
It will also link New Street Station to the emerging business district at Snow Hill and the historic Jewellery Quarter and serve as a platform for a future rapid transit network that can connect and feed into the city's forthcoming High Speed Rail terminus.
Work on the extension will coincide and be closely co-ordinated with that on the Gateway redevelopment of New Street Station and other city centre projects and phased to cause as minimal disruption as possible.
Infrastructure such as shelters and stops will also be carefully designed to reflect those at Gateway and the proposed new bus interchange facilities being built in the city centre this summer.