SOE Events

Midland Metro visit

20th Mar 2015

On 17 February, members of the IRTE Midlands Centre visited the new Midland Metro maintenance facility currently under construction.

Midland Metro director Dean Watkins talked to the group about the current service, which includes 170 staff working within a 21km network, with a peak frequency of 6-8 minutes between trams.

Dean explained to the 14 members in attendance that the service has an operational target of 98.6% and punctuality target of 95%, within the current fleet of 13 T69 trams.

The group also learnt about the planned 1.2km network extension in Birmingham City Centre, which will lead up to New Street station. Currently under construction, the revised network will be supported by 21 new CAF Urbos 3 trams costing £1.8m each. These will gradually replace the existing T69 units which have been in service since the network opened in 1998.

The Urbos 3 (which has an improved driver environment, more doors, level flooring, and a lighter, more spacious interior) will carry 208 passengers in greater comfort, with an improved speed of up to 70kph.

The depot itself underwent a £14m upgrade to support routine fleet inspections and maintenance, and new testing. During the upgrade, the depot’s stabling capacity was increased from 3 to 8, and the upgraded maintenance facility means the facility is now equipped to carry out a much broader range of repair.

Equipment in the depot now includes an onsite wheel lathe, full brake test equipment, and safe access to both underfloor and rooftop equipment on vehicles. The depot also houses a control centre and conference rooms, and has been designed to handle additional line extensions currently under development.

Members were impressed by the enthusiasm of the onsite staff, whose dedication to the job earned them the Light Rail Operator of the Year award at the Light Rail Awards 2014.

After the tour of the facilities, Centre chair John Maher thanked Dean and his team for a very interesting and enjoyable visit.

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