Almost seven miles of the new West Midlands Metro extension from Dudley to Brierley Hill risks being postponed, or even cancelled.
Dudley Council had admitted there are problems with the £449 million project, for which costs have spiralled since it was approved in 2019. The line is almost complete south to Dudley, but the final bill for the full route could be £300m over budget, and it is unclear where the extra money could come from.
A more optimistic view is taken by West Midlands Mayor Andy Street, who has declared his determination to complete the line. He said a number of potential funding options could be presented to the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) board meeting in January.
Dudley Council leader Patrick Harley said: “We are absolutely committed to building the Metro extension in full… there is quite a bit of money coming through for new transport schemes.”
However, WMCA Chairman Ian Ward said: “The truth is, we do not have the money… it’s a little bit of a grim picture.”
Delays caused by increased labour costs, supply chain issues, problems with the delivery of materials, and now inflation have dogged the Metro. The bill for the still-to-open 700-yard spur from Wolverhampton St George’s near the city centre to the station rose to almost £50m. Another £5m is needed to complete the University tram stop, and £2m to reach Centenary Square in Birmingham city centre.
The extension from Wednesbury has been in the planning for over two decades, but there is now no guarantee that it will go beyond Dudley, where land compulsory purchase issues have prevented a start on building the new transport interchange until well into 2023.
Recently appointed Transport for West Midlands Executive Director Anne Shaw remains optimistic: “Globally, these are very challenging times and we’re trying to manage all of the ambition within the resources that we have available to us. It might take slightly longer and cost us a little bit more, but the ambition is still the same.”
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