Work to progress the proposed extension of the Midland Metro from Wednesbury to Brierley Hill is due to commence this week.

The Midland Metro Alliance (MMA), working on behalf of West Midlands Combined Authority, will begin to clear vegetation from overgrown areas of the disused former South Staffordshire Railway line in order to carry out comprehensive structural and environmental surveys.

It is anticipated that the construction of the route will begin during 2019 and that the route will open for passenger service in 2023.

The vegetation clearance process should take approximately two weeks and any disruption will be minimised where possible. All residents and businesses who may be directly affected by the works have been informed that the works are taking place. For further information, please visit the Midland Metro Alliance website: www.metroalliance.co.uk or email: communications@metroalliance.co.uk.

Councillor Roger Lawrence, lead member for transport for the West Midlands Combined Authority, said: “Whilst this is not the formal start of work on the extension it is the first step towards it. There is a lot of work still to be done but once it is complete the Black Country and wider region will reap the economic rewards of having an extended modern tram system running through it.”

Councillor Khurshid Ahmed, cabinet member for regeneration and enterprise for Dudley Council, said: “We’ve been working hard with partners to make this project happen as we are set to benefit significantly when the Metro rolls in. The improved transport links will create huge opportunities for jobs and tourism in the area. Therefore it’s great to see the project moving in the right direction and a commitment from all involved.”

Alejandro Moreno, Midland Metro Alliance Director, said: “We are very excited to begin work on this key route but before we can begin construction, we do need to carry out some preparatory work in order to decide what further works are required to prepare for construction.”

Stuart Everton, Black Country Director of Transport, added: “The start of construction of the line between Wednesbury and Brierley Hill is excellent news for the local economy, and will provide a significant boost to our regeneration plans for the region. It will also provide benefits to residents across the region by making it easier for them to get to jobs, and the national and international rail network.”

The Midland Metro currently runs between Birmingham’s New Street Station and Wolverhampton city centre, serving locations such as the Jewellery Quarter, West Bromwich, Wednesbury and Bilston. Work is now underway extending the route from New Street Station to Centenary Square, with services expected to start running in 2019/20. Funding has also been earmarked for the line to go further along Broad Street, past Five Ways and on to Edgbaston (Hagley Road) by 2021. The route of an extension through Digbeth in Birmingham has also been chosen, running from Bull Street via Albert Street and on to the forthcoming HS2 high speed rail station at Curzon Street. From there it would go along New Canal Street and Meriden Street into High Street Deritend, stopping at Digbeth Coach Station and the Custard Factory.