The long-awaited £50 million Metro link from St George’s down Piper’s Row to Railway Plaza was meant to be completed in 2020 but has been beset by budget rises and delays. Bosses at Midland Metro Alliance say the final stages of testing and commissioning are being carried out, but called it a “complex process” which means there is no definitive date for its opening.
Wolverhampton Council’s deputy leader Stephen Simkins has vented his frustration at the delays and uncertainty over when it will finally open.
He said: “We’ve been promised it for how many years? They promised our citizens it would be open time and time again. It will be a non-event when it does because we’ve been waiting so long. We want to be a destination city. How can we do that without an adequate tram system?”
The reopening of the old Civic Halls has helped boost the night-time economy in the city, while there are also plans for a £6m box park leisure venue in the city centre along with other proposals to attract even more visitors.
Councillor Simkins added: “We are one of the biggest regions. It could be a shining star in the West Midlands but we’ve got an unfit for service tram system.”
Once the Wolverhampton extension is open to the public, services will call at two additional tram stops at Wolverhampton Station and on Pipers Row, connecting Metro with heavy rail and bus services helping to make multi-modal journeys faster and more accessible.
The project was first delayed by 18 months due to construction work at the railway station. Metro bosses then hoped the 720-metre extension would be ready for the Commonwealth Games in July but pushed it back the opening date until autumn 2022.
Last October the project was again pushed back to Spring 2023, which has been missed.
Midlands Metro Alliance director Peter Cushing previously blamed “complexities” of installing the systems needed to run the trams down Pipers Row and supply chain problems for the delays.
The delays and supply chain issues increased the bill for the Wolverhampton extension by £10 million.
The project was first projected to cost £35 million but will now cost the taxpayer £50 million.
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