West Midlands Metro CAF Urbos tram delivery

UK: West Midlands Metro has taken delivery of the first of eight battery-equipped third generation CAF Urbos trams ahead of the opening of extensions to Edgbaston Village at the Birmingham end of its light rail line and to Wolverhampton station at the other end.

In October 2019 the West Midlands Combined Authority selected CAF for a £83·5m contract to supply 21 trams and provide 30 years of technical support and management for the onboard lithium-ion batteries which enable operation on catenary-free sections of track.

West Midlands Metro CAF Urbos tram unloading

The initial phase of the Westside extension between the Grand Central and Library stops in Birmingham city centre which opened in December 2019 was the first section of modern tramway in the UK where battery-powered trams are used in regular passenger service; the 21 existing CAF Urbos trams were retrofitted with Saft Greentech traction batteries.

The latest batch of trams is being manufactured at CAF’s plant at Zaragoza in Spain, with eight to be delivered over the coming months; the first five are expected to enter service this year. The remaining 13 will be delivered in 2023, ahead of the opening of the Black Country route now under construction between Wednesbury, Dudley and Brierley Hill. The contract includes an option for a further 29 vehicles.

‘These are incredibly exciting times’, said Mayor of the West Midlands Andy Street on May 14. ‘With the extension to the Westside of Birmingham nearing completion, and diggers in the ground on both the Wednesbury to Brierley Hill and Birmingham Eastside extensions, it is clear we are going to need significantly more trams in service as we attract more and more people onto the Metro. Not only are our trams a quick and easy alternative to the car, but they’re also far more environmentally friendly, helping to reduce air pollution and tackle the climate emergency.’