West Midlands Metro tram in Birmingham city centre

Photo: Tony Miles

UK: An independent review into the governance of the West Midlands Metro light rail network is to be carried out in the wake of the withdrawal of the CAF tram fleet which operates services between Birmingham and Wolverhampton.

The West Midlands Combined Authority said on November 19 that it had asked Transport for West Midlands to commission an independent review into the WMCA’s oversight of light rail services.

To be carried out by an industry specialist from the transport sector, the review will look into the way TfWM manages the operation of light rail services through a wholly-owned company. It will also examine the delivery of extensions to the network, a number of which are either under construction or in the planning phase.

West Midlands Metro had announced on November 12 that all services would be suspended for at least four weeks because of cracking on its CAF Urbos 3 trams. The announcement came a few days after services on the Inner West light rail line in Sydney were suspended when routine inspections discovered cracks on all 12 of its fleet of CAF Urbos 3 trams.

West Midlands Mayor Andy Street

West Midlands Mayor Andy Street.

‘The situation with the metro is incredibly disappointing and frustrating’, said West Midlands Mayor Andy Street. ‘On behalf of passengers, I have asked for an independent review to establish what exactly has gone wrong and what changes need to be made in how those in authority are held to account to ensure we avoid this ever happening again.’

‘The tram is an essential and valued part of our regional transport network. However, I have had serious concerns about the metro construction for some time, and so I welcome the independent review’, added Ian Ward, Leader of Birmingham City Council and WMCA portfolio holder for transport.