National Express to lose Midland Metro concession

NATIONAL Express, which operates the Midland Metro tram network under a concession agreement, will not have it renewed when it ends in October 2018.

Transport for West Midlands (TfWM) – the transport arm of the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) – says it will take over the day-to-day running of the network, a move that will enable it to plough millions back into improving and expanding the tram system. National Express staff will be transferred over to a new company – Midland Metro Ltd.

Ridership over the next decade is expected to rise from 6.5 to 30 million, and this is expected to generate around £50million in profits over the first 11 years, which the WMCA will feed back into improvements.

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Before taking the decision, the WMCA board was told that the tendering process to appoint a private operator would in itself cost taxpayers several million pounds.

The decision means National Express has now ended all rail and metro interests in the UK, a move Colin Saward of National Express Midlands Metro called “disappointing”.

Approval from the WCMA board has been provided to submit a Transport & Works Act Order to extend from Century Square to Edgbaston in Birmingham by 2021. A TWA Order has also been submitted for an extension through Digbeth, from Bull Street via Albert Street, to a proposed HS2 station at Curzon Street.

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