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Saturday, 2 March, 2002, 11:55 GMT
New Metro tracks unveiled
Midland Metro
One of the new routes will run through central Birmingham
Plans for a multi-million pound investment in two new lines for the Midland Metro have been unveiled to the public.

The system, built three years ago at a cost of 145m, currently runs from Wolverhampton to Snow Hill in central Birmingham.

The new routes will take in the region's biggest shopping centre, the Merry Hill development in Brierley Hill, and also run through Birmingham city centre.

Original forecasts suggested that up to 15 million people would use the trams, but the lack of extra routes has meant the passenger numbers are steady at six million.


This shortfall and a number of much-publicised technical problems meant a financial loss of 4m during the first 18 months of operation.

Trams have broken down, ticket machines have had to be withdrawn and passengers have put up with delays and cancellations because of engineering problems.

Phil Bateman, spokesman for Travel Midland Metro, said: "We have had more than our fair share of vandalism and we have had set-backs, but it was a new system and there are always difficulties on any new company.

"The important thing is that we are still in operation and the people of the West Midlands like the system.

"They have seen its reliability grow."

The first of the new routes will run from Wednesdbury near Wolverhampton, take in Merry Hill, and end in Brierley Hill.

Another route will run through central Birmingham.

Marie Matthews, from Centro, said: "What we need to do is get local people's agreement to them, or, if people have got any problems to try and solve them."

If investment is forthcoming and construction starts on time, then both routes could be operational by 2006.

Click here to go to BBC Birmingham Online
See also:

06 Feb 02 | England
Metro losses run into millions
17 Jan 02 | UK
Do trams beat the jams?
09 Jan 02 | UK
Is UK transport the worst?
11 Dec 01 | England
Train plans on track
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