Members of the public will get the chance to go on one of the Midland Metro's new trams tomorrow.
£40 million has been spent upgrading the fleet, and five out of a eventual 20 trams are being tested at the main depot in Wednesbury.
They'll be in full service by the summer, but passengers can have an early look at one of the high-tech trams at Birmingham Snow Hill station tomorrow. Chris Halpin reports.
Commuters on the Midland Metro have spoken of their excitement at the launch of a £40 million new fleet of trams in the coming months.
Passengers told ITV News Central they liked the look of the new trams and were excited to get on board - though had their fingers crossed for fewer breakdowns.
The general manager of Midland Metro has welcomed five new £1.8 million trams set to hit the tracks in the summer.
Dean Watkins told ITV News Central around five million people use the line every year, and said the new trams could "only be a good thing" for the region, both in terms of improving public transport and by encouraging investment.
One of the Midland Metro's new £40million fleet of trams will go on show to the public for the first time tomorrow.
A total of 20 new trams are being built in Spain, and so far five have been delivered to the Midland Metro depot in Wednesbury. Each costs £1.8m, and the new trams will be able to carry a third more passengers.
ITV News Central were invited to see inside one of the new trams, ahead of the public viewing at Birmingham Snow Hill on Saturday 5th April.
They replace the older trams which have been running between Wolverhampton and Birmingham for 15 years, since the line first opened in 1999. It's all part of the £126 million upgrade to the line which is being extended to Birmingham New Street.
The £127 million extension of the Midland Metro line between Birmingham and Wolverhampton began to take shape yesterday as the first tracks were laid in Birmingham city centre.
The first of the tracks, that will take trams through the streets of Birmingham from Snow Hill station to New Street station, were put in place at Colmore Gate in Bull Street.
The cost of the project includes the new £40 million Urbos 3 tram fleet that will run on the line, the first of which arrived from Spain last month.
Councillor Roger Horton, Centro lead member for rail, said: "Trams are very much a transport mode of the future and this is a significant and symbolic moment for the Metro extension.”
"In the year that sees the 60th anniversary of the last tram running in Birmingham we are seeing the first tracks go in for a new 21st century system.”
A total of £320million has been secured by transport bosses in the West Midlands as part of a programme of works to milk the benefits of HS2.
The range of improvements will kick off an estimated £2billion of works across the region, and are set to take place between 2015 and 2019.
- Extending the Midland Metro tram from St George's in Wolverhampton to the city's rail station, and from Birmingham New Street to Centenary Square
- Electrifying the rail lines between Walsall and Rugeley, and between Coventry and Leamington Spa
- Building a new railway station at Kenilworth
- Expanding park and ride sites and local rail stations
- Introducing a tram-style rapid bus system called SPRINT along the Hagley Road in Birmingham
- Improving the area between New Street and Moor Street railway stations in Birmingham to create a "One Station" zone
The first new tram on the Midland Metro line will be unveiled today to mark the opening of the initial phase of new facilities on the Wolverhampton to Birmingham Snow Hill Station line.
The new Urbos 3 tram is part of a £40 million fleet to be rolled out at the new expanded depot.
A total of 20 trams will arrive at the Wednesbury site over the next few months for final testing and commissioning before they all go into service on the existing route next spring.
The Midland Metro network is closing tonight for two weeks.
The platforms at all the stops are being modified for a new fleet of trams which have been ordered for the Metro extension through Birmingham City Centre.
During the closure passengers will be able to use Metro and Metro/Bus tickets and passes on bus services along the route.
Services will start again on April 15th.
For more information on all the replacement bus services and details on the improvement works, click here.
Big changes to Birmingham's bus network come into effect today.
It is part of the multi-million pound project to extend the Midland Metro tram into the city.
Buses will no longer run down Corporation Street with six new bus interchanges being created around the city instead.
Mark Langford Media Manager at Centro who are in charge of the project, says people should not worry about the disruption as everything is being done to minimise any inconvenience for the public.
The metro line is due to open in 2015, with the aim of improving travel time for city dwellers.