Monday, 2 October 2023

First Bus Launch New Leicester to Birmingham Airport 24hr Service

After establishing its brand in Ireland and becoming Airport Coach Operator of the Year in 2020, Aircoach launched a brand new airport service on Monday18th September, between Leicester and Birmingham Airport.

The service will run from St Margaret's Bus Station (stand SZ) in the centre of Leicester, picking up at Fosse Park and then direct to Birmingham Airport, 7 days a week, every hour, 24 hours a day. 
When departing from Birmingham Airport back to Leicester, the stop is conveniently located right outside the main terminal.

With tickets starting at just £9 one way by booking online at it is exceptional value for money and a cost effective and enjoyable way to start a holiday or business trip.

Un-booked seats on journeys will be available for people who turn up on the day at St Margaret's and Fosse Park at a cost of £16 one way.

There is a free 15kg luggage allowance + a small bag that can be taken on board and child buggies can also be carried at no charge.

Ian Smith, Commercial Director at First Bus in Leicester said " We are really excited to be operating the new Aircoach service between Leicester and Birmingham Airport from Monday 18th September. 
It is the closest international airport to the city of Leicester with thousands of holidaymakers jetting off to sunnier climates and winter destinations all year round. 
We are also expecting the service to be popular with the many business travellers who need to make short trips across to Europe and back over a 24 hour timeline".

Richard Gill, Commercial Director at Birmingham Airport said: “The new Aircoach service connecting Leicester easily with Birmingham Airport will provide a convenient and cost-effective travel option for both our leisure and business customers. 
This seamless journey that starts at St Margaret's Bus Station in Leicester, with a pick-up point at the popular Fosse Park, then direct to Birmingham Airport terminal, will become very busy over the coming months.”

This is the first time Aircoach has operated a service in England after establishing its brand in Ireland and becoming Airport Coach Operator of the Year in 2020. With busy journeys every day to and from Dublin Airport linking Cork, Belfast, Galway and three routes to Dublin City Centre and onward to South Dublin & Wicklow.

Sunday, 1 October 2023

X4 Saltburn to Whitby by Paul Ogilvie

Paul Ogilvie has recently taken a trip on the Arriva service X4 from Saltburn to Whitby via the coastal route.

Paul says "This route has been on my bucket list for a while. I’m compiling details of my journey which I took 2 weeks ago. Below is a photo from United days when the operated as 258.

It’s definitely not a dangerous route BUT certainly a challenge for the drivers on the numerous hairpin bends and banks.

As I mentioned, this service has always been on my bucket list to do. The service actually commences from Middlesbrough and operates via the coastal route to Whitby. The full route is just shy of a 2 hour journey to cover around 35 miles with a 30 minute frequency.
Generally the service is operated with Wright bodied StreetLites.

So a couple of weeks ago I actually joined the service X4 at Saltburn Station Square. Sadly the service is prone to delays due in the main to the notorious bends at Saltburn and Sandsend. Motorists just can’t understand why a bus is approaching on the wrong side of the road ! AND they are reluctant to move resulting in delays to the service.

The scenery is quite spectacular on either side of the road for most of the journey. Departing Saltburn you have wonderful views of the cliffs and pier, descending towards Skeleton Beck.
If you’re really lucky you can see the train on the miniature railway to the right. Further on beyond Loftus is the Boulby Pot Ash Mine with its numerous rail heads.

The service then serves Staithes, Runswick Bay and onto Lythe.
From Lythe the service descends Lythe Bank at 1 in 4 ! for 1/2 mile. The views of the coast here towards Whitby are amazing and then the pretty village of Sandsend is reached. A couple more twists takes you along the seafront with views of Whitby getting closer.

Whitby is reached via West Cliff where Arriva once had their depot. The route descends Chubb Hill Road to where Whitby Station Square is reached.

Longer vehicles have sometimes come to grief on the notorious Saltburn Bank

As you’d imagine at this time of the year loadings were very popular. On departure from Sandsend we had a full standing load and right to the back. Even though the service was running late the driver was an absolute STAR. He was explaining about the £2 fare and dealing with many foreign oap customers. In fact I’ve dropped Arriva a line commending his actions".

Watch a video here showing an Arriva bus driver climbing Saltburn Bank during snowy conditions.

Saturday, 30 September 2023

Latest Images From Great Musgrave Bridge Infill Removal Reveal Damage to Historic Structure

Images of National Highways’ ongoing removal of the concrete infill beneath the 19th century Great Musgrave bridge show that damage has been done to the underside of the historic structure.

Images from HRE Group website 

Illegal infilling of the 161-year-old bridge was carried out on behalf of National Highways between May and July 2021 at a cost of £124,000. The roads operator claimed that pouring 1,000t of concrete beneath the arch was necessary to maintain the structural safety of the bridge so that it could carry 40t trucks.

This was disputed by engineers who concluded that the bridge presented no significant risk to public safety

The HRE Group, 
an alliance of engineers, sustainable transport advocates and greenway developers which cares for the Historical Railway Estate led the charge on getting National Highways to remove the concrete infill, has shared the latest images from the scene.

The new images reveal that the concrete beneath the bridge has been removed but there is cracking to the original bricks and some removal of the mortar under the bridge that has been caused by the procedure.

A retrospective planning application was demanded by Eden District Council to maintain the infill, but, following many objections, the application was refused in October 2022. National Highways was then given a year to remove the infill.

See our previous posting from April 2022 here covering the infilling of Great Musgrave bridge and subsequent actions.

Meanwhile, 280 people have objected to National Highways’ retrospective planning application to retain infill at another historic railway bridge, at Congham in Norfolk. 
Emergency permitted development rights were again exploited, but the local planning authority intervened because the material had not been removed within the maximum permitted period of 12 months.

Map showing structures at risk from infilling or demolition by National Highways here

Friday, 29 September 2023

150's Tested on Marston Vale Line Following Demise of Vivarail and Their 230's

Replacement trains are being tested on a railway route that has been suspended for 10 months after a Vivarail went bust.

The Marston Vale Line, which has 12 stations between Bedford and Bletchley, has been without trains since December.

Operator, London Northwestern Railway (LNR), said the "major milestone" was achieved after Class 150s No. 150137, 150139 and 150141 from Northern were acquired, to replace Vivarail Class 230 trains which can longer operate.

A rail replacement bus service would continue to operate until November.

The test run was carried out under the control of an instructor driver, in partnership with Network Rail, to "ensure the tracks and signals along the line are ready for the fleet to use," the company said.

Network Rail has been running rail head treatment trains, external "to reduce the likelihood of trains sliding on tracks which have been used much less frequently than usual since December".

"An exact date and timetable will be confirmed closer to the time as we continue to 'pass out' drivers on the Class 150s," LNR said.

The operator has taken over from Vivarail, which employed the maintenance staff who fuelled, checked, serviced and repaired the Class 230 trains.

As a result of administrators being called in, LNR previously said "it was no longer safe to operate our Vivarail Class 230s... and we were left with no option but to suspend the service".

Vivarail Class 230's were used on the line until Vivarail went into administration.
The 230's were created by rebuilding 1980's ex
 London Underground D78 Stock

Thursday, 28 September 2023

Manchester - The 'Bee Network' Up and Running

Further to our recent posting on the forthcoming local control of bus services in Greater Manchester, the 'Bee Network' is now up and running. 

Bus services in the Bolton, Wigan, and parts of Bury, Salford and Manchester areas are now under local public control.

A large fleet of new battery powered buses is being introduced, alongside large numbers of  existing diesel powered vehicles which are being re-painted in the new yellow Bee livery.

A vehicle from the Diamond Bus fleet, which has received the new Bee livery

Local councils and their residents will now contribute towards the costs of the new arrangements that will favour the return of services that have ceased, due to low demand.

The bus companies who previously ran the services and who had to balance the books between running services that were not viable and those that were, now operate the services but won't take the hit if a service is under used.

The bus operators are now being paid directly to run the buses, with Transport for Greater Manchester and the local councils providing all funding together with massive funding from central government. Route options, timetabling and fare revenue are managed by TfGM.

During the lead up to 'Taking Back Control of Manchester Buses' the London method of running buses has been used as the example to follow, whereby TfL pick up the costs of running the services and the bus companies just run the buses where they are told, with no financial risk if passenger revenue doesn't cover the costs. 

Unfortunately over the past couple of years or so TfL haven't been able to balance the books. 

There is a limit to what central government can or will provide in subsidies and as a result TfL have cut back on services, see here so it's not a particularly good time to be trying replicate the London method.

Hopefully, there will be more incentive for the local councils to assist in buses being given priority in order to keep to time, otherwise nothing much will change other than the colour of the buses.

Roger French has visited Manchester to observe the new scene and has posted a detailed summary of the situation. Read his report herestay with it until the end - it makes some very interesting reading.

Also see a TfGM press release with an interesting video at the end here showing a brief glimpse of buses masked up ready for spraying into the yellow livery.

Wednesday, 27 September 2023

£1Million KWVR Funding For Bridge 27

The Keighley & Worth Valley Railway has been awarded £1,000,000 toward the costs of the Bridge 27 renewal from the Government’s Community Ownership Fund.

As part of the levelling up funding from the central government, the railway has been awarded a £1m grant for rebuilding Bridge 27. This bridge is vital to the ongoing operation of the railway, and its rebuild will be the largest ever – and most expensive – civil engineering project since the heritage railway was established

The success in obtaining this grant reflects many years of hard work by the railway volunteers and staff in operating the special railway. It is based on a track record of delivering an excellent experience for visitors, and in so doing, building a robust and sustainable operation.

This grant ensures the long-term stability of the railway finances and allows the KWVR to continue to invest their existing resources across the line and in the fleet.

The railway wishes to thank everyone who contributed to the successful grant application, especially those working hard to deliver the bridge replacement project.

More about Bridge 27 renewal here     KWVR website here

Tuesday, 26 September 2023

Flix Announces Growth of Over 50% During Half Year

Flix has announced its half-year figures for the first six months of 2023. From January until the end of June 2023, more than 36 million passengers worldwide travelled with FlixBus, FlixTrain, Greyhound, and Kamil Koç, equivalent to a 53% increase compared to 2022. 

The total revenue of the Flix group amounts to EUR 860 million, reflecting an increase of 54% compared to EUR 557 million between January and June 2022. 

This means that the first half year of 2023 has been the most successful first half year in the company’s history. Flix also reported an adjusted EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortisation) result of EUR 26 million – an increase of EUR 85 million compared to the previous year – and a corresponding margin of 3%.

"Flix is successfully delivering sustainable and profitable growth," says André Schwämmlein, CEO and co-founder of Flix. "We are on track in all segments and were able to significantly expand our offer in many markets in the first half year. Flix continues to be a global travel tech success story."

Among other things, the company launched its first services within Finland and Greece and significantly expanded its network in Brazil. 
Flix is currently active in 41 countries worldwide, and the green long-distance buses will be launching in Chile before the end of 2023. 
For the total year, Flix expects over 25 % growth in total revenue and an adjusted EBITDA margin in the mid-single-digit percentage range. 

Significant growth in all segments

Flix recorded significant revenue and passenger growth in the first half of 2023. The company also reported positive adjusted EBITDA in all operating segments. The figures include FlixBus and FlixTrain as well as the services under the Kamil Koç brand in Turkey and Greyhound in North America.


For Europe Flix carried over 24 million passengers and announced growth of passenger volume of 75% compared to the same period in the previous year. Revenues amounted to EUR 477 million, representing a growth of 91%. 
In June alone, over 2,000 European stops were connected to the Flix network. With the first services to Finland and Greece, the whole continental EU mainland is connected to the Flix network.

North America

In the USA, Canada, and Mexico more than 5 million passengers used the services of FlixBus and Greyhound equivalent to an increase of 33% in comparison to the same period in the first half year of 2022. Revenues increased by 19% to a total of EUR 279 million.


Over 6.8 million passengers traveled with Flix subsidiary Kamil Koç – 14% more than in the first half year of 2022 – and created revenue of EUR 88 million, which corresponds with a growth of 34%. More than 300 stops are included in the Turkish long-distance bus network.

Also, Flix significantly extended its offer and network in Brazil: Overall, 35 new cities in seven federal states were incorporated into the network, including Salvador and Fortaleza. Hence, FlixBus is now also operating in the North-East of Brazil. FlixBus will launch in Chile in 2023 and is planned to launch in India next year.

Flix continues to rely on travel tech

Flix is committed to setting high standards in travel digitization while staying true to its roots in travel technology through consistent development. Already since the spring of 2023, the online booking platform, as well as the technology from Greyhound, are fully incorporated into the Flix system enabling travelers to search and book travel from either brands’ websites or apps and travel across a more extensive intercity bus network.

Beginning of the fleet transformation: LNG-FlixBuses in Germany

In June, Flix published its first voluntary ESG report and reached one more milestone within its long-term sustainability strategy. The company commits to CO2 neutrality in Europe until 2040 and focuses on fleet transformation. 
Therefore, the first five FlixBuses running on LNG (Liquefied Natural Gas) are to be deployed on domestic German routes in the next few months in cooperation with Scania, which will reduce CO2 by using biogas. 
By 2025, a total of 50 LNG vehicles are to be in operation. Flix is working on further fleet transformation with high priority and intends to continue to be a pioneer in the field of alternative drive systems.


Monday, 25 September 2023

Coastliner: £2 Fares Scheme Has Been Such a Success That All 80 of North Yorkshire's Under-Threat Bus Routes Have Been Saved

Councillor Keane Duncan, the Tory candidate to become North Yorkshire and York’s first elected mayor, said the county’s public transport services had undergone a reversal of fortune due after landing a £2.9m Government grant and a £2 price cap being introduced on local and regional journeys.

Coun Duncan revealed to a meeting of North Yorkshire Council’s executive many of the county’s bus services were “more popular than ever” and some services had even become “too popular”.

He said the Department for Transport funding would serve as “a lifeline to services” without which “many services would have ceased” and that having achieved survival, anyone elected to become mayor would face the challenge of reversing the erosion of bus routes in the county.

Read the full Yorkshire Post article and watch a video here

Sunday, 24 September 2023

Livery for Avanti West Coast’s New Fleet of Trains Revealed

The livery for Avanti West Coast’s new fleet of trains has been revealed for the first time at Hitachi’s Newton Aycliffe facility in the North East.

The train’s stylish look takes its inspiration from Avanti West Coast’s Pendolino, with its palette of colours reflecting the landscape of the regions served by the West Coast operator.

The Class 805 bi-mode, numbered 805005, was undergoing some final touches before its scheduled departure to Oxley depot in the West Midlands next week, becoming the third train to formally transfer over to the Avanti West Coast fleet.

All three units will be used for main line testing and staff training, with the first trains due to enter service across the network in the coming months.

Ellie Woolmore, Head of Brand at Avanti West Coast commented: “The excitement around our new fleet is really starting to build. The new livery helps to give the train its identity, taking its lead from our iconic Pendolino fleet, whilst accentuating its sleek design.”

The 805 bi-mode unit is due to commence overnight test working, joining 805002 and 004 in the Avanti fleet. All three sets have been fast tracked to support the start of driver training. The Class 807s will follow once the 13 bi-mode trains have been delivered.

The application of the livery is being undertaken by Stewart Signs. This train is due to be accepted on 29 Sept, joining stablemates 805002 and 805004 in the AWC fleet, the latter having been formally handed over on 14 Sept.
The Hitachi test sets also paid their first ever visit to Holyhead on 1th September, with a test run from Oxley.

The news comes in the same week that the West Coast Partnership, which compromises Avanti West Coast and West Coast Partnership Development, was awarded an initial three-year National Rail Contract, with an option to extend for a further six years.

13 five-car bi-mode units are being built to replace Class 221 Voyagers on services between London Euston and stations on the North Wales Coast and Shrewsbury lines. Their introduction will allow the elimination of long-distance diesel working on electrified routes, only using their diesel power on non electrified sections of the routes.

10 Class 807 fully electric electric units which will run between London, the West Midlands and Liverpool are also on order, as part of £350 million contract. with Hitachi Rail.

See previous Focus Transport postings here and here

Update 28th September
A video showing 805 005 leaving the Hitachi factory here watch from 6mins 30secs

Saturday, 23 September 2023

Bee Network Buses Will Start Running in Parts of Greater Manchester From 24 September 2023

For the first time in 40 years, tomorrow, bus services will be under local control in Bolton, Wigan, and parts of Bury, Salford and Manchester.

Go North West subsidiary readies to begin operating the first two large local service contracts in the Greater Manchester area on 24 September.

Go North West will take on depots in Bolton and Wigan, along with staff from six “incumbent bus brands” and vehicles, and drivers who are new to the industry. 

Greater Manchester's old and new bus brands (Image: Go Ahead)

The two contracts capture 50 routes and over 320 buses, of which 50 of the latter are BYD Alexander Dennis Enviro400EV battery-electric double-deckers ordered by Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM).

Go Ahead press release states

The Go-Ahead Group is making final preparations to run Manchester’s first Bee Network buses this weekend, with services due to begin on Sunday on 50 routes in Bolton and Wigan.

More than 1,000 colleagues at Go-Ahead’s Go North West operating company are involved in a team effort to run the yellow-branded buses, which mark the start of Transport for Greater Manchester’s Bee Network – which will be an integrated system bringing together all modes of local transport.

Mobilisation efforts have been underway for 10 months since the award of a contract to Go North West by TfGM. Go North West is taking over two depots from outgoing operators and buses will be swapped out, with fully trained new drivers in place, overnight.

Bee Network buses will replace Manchester’s six incumbent bus brands over the next 18 months, providing a joined up network for passengers. This weekend is the first of three phases in which buses across Greater Manchester will go yellow. Six liveries from legacy bus companies will eventually disappear.

Of the Bolton and Wigan fleet, 50 buses are zero-emission electric vehicles and all are fully accessible. All the buses on the network are equipped with passenger information screens and space for two wheelchairs, plus CCTV and two-way radios for security.

Go-Ahead brings expertise in franchised bus services from its track record as London’s largest bus operator, running a quarter of buses in the capital. The company also runs buses under contract for transport authorities in Ireland, Sweden and Singapore.

Fares remain £2 for an adult ticket, or £1 for a child.

Nigel Featham, Managing Director, Go North West, said:

“It’s all change for Manchester’s buses and we have a team of over 1,000 people ready to go this weekend. We’ve been working around the clock for months on a mammoth operation – every vehicle, every depot and every driver needs to be ready.

“We are determined to deliver world class public transport for a world class city. Go-Ahead is proud to be working with the Mayor and with Transport for Greater Manchester over this exciting changeover weekend.”

Details of the start of the Bee Buses network here

In March 2024, buses in Oldham, Rochdale, and parts of Bury, Salford and north Manchester will join the Bee Network. By January 2025 all Greater Manchester buses will be under local control.

According to The Bolton News on 19th September "A diesel generator has been delivered to the Bolton depot as precaution. As well as diesel it can be powered by Enhanced Hydrotreated Vegetable Oil, a fossil-free, paraffinic fuel made from 100 per cent renewable raw materials. It will be in place whilst all equipment has been tested and to safeguard against any power outages which would prevent charging of the new bus fleet" click here to read the article.

Above & below eventually Manchester trams will be incorporated into the Bee network

There’ll be a contactless payment trial for some local train journeys in 2025 and local trains will be added to the Bee Network from 2030.

Friday, 22 September 2023

Lothian Orders 50 New Volvo BZL Electric Double Deck Buses

On 20th September 
Lothian announced an order for 50 new Volvo BZL Electric double deck buses for Scotland’s capital city. The vehicles will have bodywork constructed by MCV.

At an investment of over £24million, Lothian will introduce these new vehicles in two batches across 2024, with the first vehicles appearing on Edinburgh’s streets in early spring. This investment cements the company’s commitment to reduce emissions and improve air quality in its operating environment.

From L-R: Domenico Bondi, Managing Director of Volvo Bus UK & Ireland; Sarah Boyd, Managing Director of Lothian Buses; Colin Barnes, Engineering Director of Lothian Buses; and Marie Carlsson, Vice President of Electromobility Business Development at VOLVO

Sarah Boyd, Managing Director of Lothian, said: “We are delighted to be working with Volvo Buses to introduce a fleet of 50 zero emission double decks to our fleet. Lothian continues to support the Scottish Government and City of Edinburgh Council’s strategies to improve local air quality, and this level of investment ensures that we as a business are playing our part in improving air quality across the city.

“These buses are not only fitted with the latest zero tailpipe emission drivelines; they also offer an enhanced customer experience for the millions of passengers who choose to travel with us every week.”

The delivery of cleaner and greener buses into the fleet is key to Lothian’s ‘Driving towards Net Zero’ environmental strategy, launched last week. The strategy outlines the company’s plans for ongoing investments in zero tailpipe emission buses and infrastructure across the next decade.

The 50 Volvo BZL Electric double decks will offer improved comfort and quieter journeys, each accommodating over 70 passengers and featuring Wi-Fi, high back seats and handy USB charging points.

Drivers will also benefit from a calm and quiet workspace which reduces stress, whilst a camera-based mirror system improves vision in all conditions.

Above & below, The Lothian fleet is predominantly Volvo based 

Domenico Bondi, Managing Director of Volvo Bus UK & Ireland, added: “Lothian put our BZL Electric demonstrator through its paces for more than four months, and it performed fantastically. Feedback was universally positive – from drivers, passengers and Lothian management – plus the vehicle’s range was more than sufficient for a full day’s operation in Edinburgh, proven on even the coldest of winter days.

“It is a huge privilege to secure this landmark electric bus order from Lothian, and we are confident the BZL Electric will play a pivotal role in supporting our customers ambitious net-zero strategy, which resonates strongly with Volvo’s own ambition to create zero-emission cities. We look forward to continuing our partnership and working closely with Lothian to achieve our common goal of a greener, more sustainable tomorrow.”

The new buses will be powered by Volvo’s pure electric driveline which comprises a 200kW electric motor coupled to a two-stage automated gearbox. Each vehicle has been specified with five lithium-ion batteries giving the maximum 470kW/h of onboard energy storage – offering a range up to 300km depending on operating conditions. This can be extended during operation thanks to a regenerative braking system which enables a proportion of the energy that would otherwise have been lost when the vehicle is decelerating to be recovered as free, clean, energy.

They will be charged overnight at new charging stations being installed within the company’s Annandale Street garage. Once plugged in, a full charge takes 3-4 hours.

Lothian Fleet List here

Thursday, 21 September 2023

At Long Last - The Edinburgh Tram Inquiry Has Concluded

The public inquiry to find out why Edinburgh's 11.5 mile long tram project was £400m over budget and five years late has finally concluded. The long running inquiry was was established in June 2014 to investigate what went wrong during the construction of the line between Edinburgh Airport and the city centre.

Chaired by Lord Hardie, the probe has cost the taxpayer more than £13m. and has amazingly taken nine years to come to a conclusion.

It concludes failings by the City of Edinburgh Council and its arm's-length companies were to blame for the delays.
Much criticism centres on the arm's-length company in charge of the tram project known as Tie.

The probe has highlighted considerable oversight, management and strategic mistakes by Tie, the City of Edinburgh Council and Scottish Ministers.

The report also highlights the failure of Tie to work collaboratively with the council and others including, in particular, Parsons Brinckerhoff (PB) and BSC, a consortium of Bilfinger Berger, Siemens and Spanish tram builder Construcciones y Auxiliar de Ferrocarriles (CAF), as well as a delay with production of design due to poor performance by Parsons Brinckerhoff and failure by tie and BSC to manage the design contract effectively.

The report also sets out 24 recommendations for the consideration of Scottish Ministers, including considering whether there is a requirement for new legislation to allow for civil and criminal sanctions against relevant individuals or companies who knowingly submit reports that include false statements to councillors.

The final cost of the tram project, according to the inquiry, is £835.7m, whilst the previously reported cost of £776.7m was very much an underestimate. The figures include the purchase of sufficient trams to run the original planned route between the airport and Newhaven. 
The 2.9 mile route between the city and Newhaven was finally completed and opened earlier this year.

A BBC News article excellently summarises the findings here

If you want the detail and some good bedtime reading visit the Inquiry website to read the report here

Wednesday, 20 September 2023

2 New West Midlands Metro Extension to Wolverhampton Railway Station Opens

Tram services on the new West Midlands Metro extension in Wolverhampton City Centre began on Sunday, 17 September.

The £50 million extension creates two new tram stops at Pipers Row and Wolverhampton Railway Station, offering seamless connections to bus and train services helping to create a major public transport hub for the city.

It means passenger services will be restored to the city centre following the completion of driver familiarisation – the final stage in testing and preparing the new extension.

The development has been led by Transport for West Midlands (TfWM), part of the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA), working with construction and design partner Midland Metro Alliance, operator Midland Metro Ltd and the City of Wolverhampton Council.

Laura Shoaf, chief executive of the WMCA, which owns the West Midlands Metro, said: “It has been a complex construction process, working in a busy city centre, and we know it has been a frustrating time for local people and businesses. But it is fantastic now to see the extension ready to open and welcome passengers on board.

“As a result, Wolverhampton is now a better-connected city with the transport interchange it deserves, supporting local businesses while opening up new job and leisure opportunities for residents. It also makes it easier than ever to choose public transport – helping us to reduce congestion and tackle the climate emergency.

“The good news is that we are not stopping in Wolverhampton. Work on further extensions into Sandwell and Dudley and the Eastside of Birmingham city centre are well underway – investment in convenient, comfortable, and sustainable tram network that will benefit the region for years to come.”

City of Wolverhampton Council director of resident services, John Roseblade, added: “It’s great to know that passengers are now able to use the new route developed by Midland Metro Alliance.

“Extending the Metro to the very front door of our new railway station is part of ensuring our award-winning Interchange project delivers the very best gateway to our city for all modes of transport. 
It is all part of how we are reimagining our city centre and better connecting passengers to events and venues like the newly-opened The Halls Wolverhampton, Grand Theatre and art gallery.”

Sophie Allison, interim managing director of West Midlands Metro, added: “With two new stops and services every 10 minutes to and from the station, this latest extension to our tram network is set to deliver a wealth of benefits for both new and existing customers.

“Visitors from outside the area by bus or train can simply hop on a tram for onward travel to some of the region’s top cultural and sports venues, while local communities will benefit from an even better-connected transport network. We can’t wait to welcome them aboard our trams.”

Services are expected to return to
 St Georges terminus later this autumn after the team from the Midland Metro Alliance completes systems integration activities and street scene improvements there over the coming weeks. 
Once opened, services will alternate between St Georges, which serves the shopping district, and Wolverhampton Railway Station. This means trams will run in and out of Wolverhampton every seven to eight minutes throughout the day.

Ken Jones has sent the photos below, taken on the first day of opening the extension.

West Midlands Metro website