A new partnership has been formed to build future Midland Metro tram extensions across the region.
The Midland Metro Alliance will involve a legal agreement which will see the same team of planning, design and construction specialists building four new tram extensions over the coming decade on behalf of the new West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA).
The alliance marks a significant departure from the traditional style of delivering major infrastructure where contractors and designers are typically appointed on a project by project basis.
The agreement will see all parties in the alliance share the risks and rewards between them and will include a significant focus on how the alliance partners work together and with stakeholders, businesses and the community.
The alliance will come into effect from July 4 and consist of the WMCA, which owns the Metro, rail construction specialists Colas Rail and a consortium of design experts made up of Egis Rail, Tony Gee and Pell Frischman.
The alliance will also feature Colas Rail’s partners – Colas Ltd, Barhale, Thomas Vale and Auctus Management Group.
Cllr Roger Lawrence of the WMCA said with work already underway to expand the Metro the time was right to introduce a new way of working.
He said the alliance format would see partners share risk and rewards at every stage, with each dependent on the others’ success.
“For the first time we now have the funding to deliver the first four schemes under the Metro improvement programme – a total of £1.2 billion,” he said.
“Alliancing agreements are a dramatic departure from traditional contracting methods as staff work as an integrated team and tie the commercial objectives of all parties to the actual outcome of the project.
“In bringing together the Midland Metro Alliance we have built a team of unprecedented local and international experience who bring both the skills and commitment needed to make the expanded Metro a reality.”
Midland Metro Alliance Director, Iain Anderson, said: “This is an extremely exciting opportunity for all parties within the alliance.
“The scale of the proposed development programme, and the commitment to a 10 year duration provides us with a unique opportunity to develop efficient bespoke solutions, build long term relationships with key stakeholders and to play a major role in the enhancement of the communities within which we will be operating.”
The Midland Metro runs between Birmingham and Wolverhampton, serving locations such as the Jewellery Quarter, West Bromwich, Wednesbury and Bilston.
The extension to New Street from Snow Hill station was part of a £128 million project that saw the purchase of a new 21-strong fleet of Urbos 3 trams, a refurbished depot at Wednesbury and new stops at Snow Hill, Bull St, Corporation St and Grand Central.
The 0.8 mile (1.4km) section of track between Snow Hill and New Street was scheduled to open in late 2015 but works over-ran and it did not fully open until May 2016.
Work is now underway extending the route from New Street Station to Centenary Square, with services expected to start running in 2019.
Funding has also been earmarked to extend the route further along Broad Street, past Five Ways and on to Edgbaston by 2021.
The route of the extension through Digbeth in Birmingham has also been chosen, running from Bull Street via Albert Street and on to the forthcoming HS2 high speed rail station at Curzon Street.
From there it would go along New Canal Street and Meriden Street into High Street Deritend, stopping at Digbeth Coach Station and the Custard Factory. It is anticipated the line could be open by 2023.
In Wolverhampton, permission has just been granted by the Government to begin work on the £18 million city centre extension, with completion also scheduled for 2019.
The route will take trams along Pipers Row, stopping directly outside the bus station before continuing on to the railway station which will also be redeveloped as part of the Wolverhampton Interchange Project.
A business case is also being prepared to extend the Metro from Wednesbury to Brierley Hill.