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Balfour Beatty snubbed in new partnership with Metro.

Byline: TAMLYN JONES Business Reporter @Tamlynpost

THE contractor which worked on the long-delayed extension of the Midland Metro in Birmingham city centre has been snubbed in a new partnership to build more tram lines.

Balfour Beatty took its share of the flak for the delays which beset the PS128 million project to extend the city's only tram line from Snow Hill station to New Street station.

Now, the new West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) has unveiled a new team of partners and contractors to deliver four separate trams extensions in Birmingham over the next decade - minus Balfour Beatty.

Called the Midland Metro Alliance, it is a significant deviation away from standard practice in major infrastructure schemes whereby contractors are appointed on a project-by-project basis.

In this instance, the WMCA has assembled a team which it said would "share the risks and rewards" of delivering the four tram projects, with a focus on how the alliance partners worked together and with stakeholders, businesses and the community.

Midland Metro Alliance comes into effect on July 4 and comprises the combined authority, Londonbased rail construction specialist Colas Rail and a consortium of design experts made up of French group Egis Rail, Tony Gee and Pell Frischmann - both of which have offices in Birmingham.

The alliance will also feature Colas Rail's partners Colas, Walsall-based civil engineering group Barhale, Stourport construction firm Thomas Vale and Birmingham-based infrastructure services group Auctus Management.

The Midland Metro currently operates a single line between Wolverhampton city centre and outside the new Grand Central shopping centre and New Street station.

The 0.8-mile extension from Snow Hill to New Street was originally due to open in summer 2015 but was dogged by delays before finally starting the service last month.

The quartet of new extensions are: | New Street station to Centenary Square in Broad Street via Town Hall, with services expected to start running in 2019 | Further outbound travel along Broad Street to Five Ways island and out to Edgbaston, by 2021 | Bull Street to the new HS2 station in Eastside from where it will travel to Digbeth Coach Station and the Custard Factory, due to be open by 2023 | An PS18 million city centre extension in Wolverhampton along Pipers Row to the bus and train station, due to complete in 2019 A separate business case is also being prepared to extend the Metro from Wednesbury to Brierley Hill.

WMCA board member Coun Roger Lawrence said the time was now right to introduce a new way of working.

"For the first time, we now have the funding to deliver the first four schemes under the Metro improvement programme - a total of PS1.2 billion," he said.

Midland Metro Alliance director Iain Anderson added: "This is an extremely exciting opportunity for all parties within the alliance.

"The scale of the proposed development programme, and the commitment to a ten-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."

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Publication:Birmingham Mail (England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Jun 30, 2016
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