A 2KM extension of the Midland Metro light rail network from the existing Grand Central terminus in Birmingham to Edgbaston has been given the go-ahead, thanks to funding from the Department for Transport.

DfT will contribute £59.8 million through the Local Growth Fund towards the £149 million cost of building the extension, which is due to open in March 2021. A further £59 million will be provided by the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA), with the remainder coming from Birmingham City Council, Greater Birmingham Local Growth Fund Pot, Greater Birmingham & Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership and developers.

The extension will serve stops at Town Hall, Centenary Square, Brindley Place plus two further stops either side of the Five Ways roundabout in Edgbaston. Up to 10 trams an hour will operate at peak periods when the extension opens.

WMCA’s aim is to open the route as far as Centenary Square in 2019/20, and it says this will be the main initial focus, although there will be some works on the Edgbaston extension where appropriate.

Preliminary groundworks started in the summer, and with final funding confirmed main works began in early September. Part of the extension will include catenary-free running, with the Midland Metro’s trams being fitted with batteries so they can run without overhead wires in sensitive areas.

The extension will be built by the Midland Metro Alliance, a venture comprising the WMCA, Colas Rail and a design consortium of Egis Rail, Tony Gee and Pell Frischmann.

The alliance has a 10-year contract to build a series of extensions to the Midland Metro, including a link to Wolverhampton station and planned routes to Brierley Hill, and to Digbeth and thence to Solihull and Birmingham Interchange HS2 station.

Blending into the streetscape: impression of tram in Edgbaston.