UK public transport company Transport for West Midlands (TfWM) has unveiled plans to expand its battery-powered tram network by adding up to 50 new trams.

The plan comes after the UK’s first battery-powered tram made its debut in the West Midlands in April this year.

TfWM, which is part of the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA), is tendering to identify suitable vendors for the trams.

The company will initially buy 18 new battery-powered trams with an option to acquire an additional 32 at a later stage.

The proposed expansion of the tram network is part of a planned £3.4bn investment in West Midlands transport over the next ten years, which will include new suburban rail lines, cycle routes and motorway improvements.

“This tender could treble the amount of trams operating on our network, meaning more services and more stops as we extend the tram network for passengers across the West Midlands.”

The investment aims to maximise the economic benefits of the upcoming High Speed Rail 2 (HS2), which will run between London and Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds.

WMCA transport head Cllr Roger Lawrence said: “We launched the UK’s first battery-powered tram earlier this year and now we’re adding more to the network.

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“We had to wait for the technology to catch up with our ambition – so we will retrofit all our existing trams with batteries too.

“Eventually, this tender could treble the amount of trams operating on our network – potentially increasing our regional fleet from 21 to 71 trams – meaning more services and more stops as we extend the tram network for passengers across the West Midlands.”

There are 21 ‘Urbos 3’ model trams currently operating on the Midland Metro, with only one retrofitted with batteries.

WMCA plans to retrofit the remaining 20 trams in a rolling programme.

According to TfWM, the trams will be used to provide services on several forthcoming extensions to the existing network, which connects Wolverhampton St George’s to Birmingham Grand Central.

The contract for the trams is anticipated to be awarded by May next year.

The supplier will have two years to design and develop the trams, with the first set to come into service by summer 2021.