The UK Government has given approval for plans to extend the Midland Metro in Wolverhampton, England.
The £18m extension plan was given approval by the British Secretary of State for Transport Patrick McLoughlin and is part of a larger £120m redevelopment programme of the city centre.
The Midland Metro project is being executed by the transport division of the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) Transport for West Midlands (TfWM) in collaboration with the City of Wolverhampton Council and the UK-based real estate developer Neptune Developments.
On receiving the approval, preparatory work for the metro project is expected to commence later this year with completion expected for 2019.
Neptune Developments’ managing director Steve Parry said: "The announcement is great news for the Wolverhampton Interchange scheme as the Midland Metro extension is the element that will tie the commercial developments and new bus and railway stations together."
The route will see trams along Pipers Row to the city’s bus station and on to the railway station, which is being redeveloped as part of the Wolverhampton Interchange Project.
Extension of the Midland Metro will not only improve passenger connections between train, bus, and tram services, but also help the ongoing redevelopment programme of the land next to the railway station.
Wolverhampton’s Council leader and West Midlands transport lead Roger Lawrence said: "Today’s approval is excellent news because the extension can play a key role in unlocking further investment and jobs, not just in Wolverhampton but also other parts of the Black Country.
"If we are to succeed in revitalising our city then we must have the right transport infrastructure in place to open up new areas for redevelopment and underpin our long-term ambitions."
Once completed, the extension will provide improved metro links to the wider West Midlands, including a route through to the proposed high-speed rail station and the Broad Street area in Birmingham city centre.
Image: The preparatory work for the Midland Metro extension project is expected to commence later this year. Photo: courtesy of West Midlands Combined Authority.