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.

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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