Wednesbury to Brierley Hill Metro Extension – Business Case and Public Inquiry
The Wednesbury to Brierley Hill Extension forms a significant part of the West Midlands Metropolitan Rail and Rapid Transit Network The proposed route is 11km operating between Wednesbury and Brierley Hill through the Metropolitan Boroughs of Sandwell and Dudley. In addition to the significant potential for integration with the bus and rail networks, the Wednesbury to Brierley Hill extension also links into local cycling and walking facilities.
SYSTRA was commissioned by TfWM and the Midland Metro Alliance to develop a full Major Scheme Business case that would justify the construction the extension of the Midland Metro network from the current line to Brierley Hill.
The Strategic Case for this line was developed around economic growth and regeneration of the Dudley and Brierley Hill areas and the expansion of employment and education opportunities for local residents through a mass transit connection to Birmingham City Centre and Wolverhampton.
In addition to the standard transport, accident and environmental benefits that are generated by standard appraisal tools, the Economic Case for the scheme was enhance through:
- Wider Impact Benefits - the scheme will improve accessibility between Sandwell and Dudley and the wider West Midlands area which generates welfare benefits and agglomeration benefits through improved access to the wider employment market for residents and access to a wider catchment of employees for local businesses.
- Land Value uplift benefits - the scheme will enable significant areas of underdeveloped land in the Dudley, Brierley Hill and Merry Hill areas to be developed for housing, employment and leisure schemes.
- Smarter Choices and Bus Network changes – Implementation of wider transport initiatives that promote the scheme to local residents and enhance the catchment and demand for the scheme.
- Generated Trips – an assessment of the levels of new trips that are likely to be generated as a result of the improved connectivity making travel in the area more attractive.
The resultant major scheme business case was presented into the DfT in 2017 and funding for the scheme was granted later that year. An update of this business case was presented to the Combined Authority for final approval of the local scheme financing and was finally approved in 2019.
SYSTRA also produced evidence on the Economic Case at the Transport and Works Act update enquiry in 2019 at which scheme land requirements through CPO were agreed. For this inquiry, SYSTRA also prepared a detailed impact assessment of the scheme demand impacts for the Merry Hill shopping centre which built on data provided by the shopping centre operators and showed an enhanced level of demand for this important local attraction than was previously identified through the transport modelling.