UK: The Midland Metro Alliance is to be launched on July 4 to bring together a team of planning, design and construction specialists which will build four light rail extensions in the West Midlands over the next decade.

The alliance comprises the West Midlands Combined Authority which owns the Midland Metro light rail line, infrastructure contractor Colas Rail and its partners Colas Ltd, Barhale, Thomas Vale and Auctus Management Group, and a consortium of consultancies Egis Rail, Tony Gee and Pell Frischman.

‘Alliancing agreements are a dramatic departure from traditional contracting methods as staff work as an integrated team and tie the commercial objectives of all parties to the actual outcome of the project’, said Councillor Roger Lawrence of WMCA on June 28. This replaces the traditional model of appointing contractors and designers on a project-by-project basis.

Work is already underway on a short Midland Metro extension from Birmingham New Street station to Centenary Square, with services expected to start running in 2019. Funding has also been earmarked to extend this line to Edgbaston by 2021.

A route has also been selected for a branch to serve the future HS2 station at Curzon Street, then running to Digbeth Coach Station and the Custard Factory. Opening is envisaged by 2023.

Legal powers have recently been granted for an £18m extension of the other end of the line to Wolverhampton station, which is scheduled to open in 2019. A business case is also being prepared for a route from Wednesbury to Brierley Hill.

‘The scale of the proposed development programme, and the commitment to a 10-year duration provides us with a unique opportunity to develop efficient bespoke solutions, build long-term relationships with key stakeholders and to play a major role in the enhancement of the communities within which we will be operating’, said Midland Metro Alliance Director, Iain Anderson.