UK: Birmingham City Council leader Sir Albert Bore unveiled the first of 20 CAF Urbos 3 trams for the Birmingham – Wolverhampton Midland Metro line at Wednesbury depot on October 16.

The tram had been delivered from CAF’s Zaragoza factory in two sections on low-loaders, with a sea crossing from Santander to Plymouth. Entry into service is planned for next year, following testing and driver training.

The five-section 100% low-floor Urbos 3 trams, ordered in 2012 at a cost of £40m, will have a capacity of around 200 passengers, compared to 156 on the 16 partly low-floor Ansaldo T69 cars supplied for the opening of the line in 1999. Together with a 10 trams/h service this will increase overall capacity by 40%.

‘It’s fantastic to see the first of these very high quality trams arrive from Spain, not least because they will bring real benefits for passengers’, said Councillor John McNicholas, Chairman of West Midlands transport agency Centro. ‘Not only will they provide a more comfortable journey but the extra capacity means we will be able to run a 6 min frequency throughout the day, helping to increase the number of people we can carry on the system each year.’

An extension of the 21 km starter light rail line through the centre of Birmingham to the city’s principal railway station at New Street is under construction, and ‘we are now planning to take the Metro on further to Centenary Square as well as extending it through Wolverhampton city centre to the railway station’, Bore confirmed.

Midland Metro’s development plans are described in more detail in the September 2013 issue of Metro Report International.