WMCA calls for independent review into West Midlands Metro operations and governance
Following the suspension of all West Midlands Metro services from 13 November 2021 to carry out extensive repairs, WMCA has called for an independent review into the way that TfWM manages the delivery of new extensions and operation of metro services.
The West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) Board has announced that it has asked Transport for West Midlands (TfWM) to conduct an independent review into the WMCA’s oversight of the region’s metro services.
Earlier in 2021, West Midlands Metro (WMM) discovered cracks on its trams, which resulted in a temporary interruption to services for inspections and repairs. Temporary repairs were carried out to return the metro fleet to service as soon as possible, but further inspections found that more extensive and permanent repairs were required. To ensure the future safety of its customers and colleagues, West Midlands Metro made the decision to suspend all services from 13 November 2021 to carry out these repairs.
The review, to be carried out by an industry expert, will look into the way that Transport for West Midlands manages the delivery of new extensions and operation of metro services through a wholly owned company. This is to ensure that TfWM, which is part of the WMCA, has the right structures in place to hold both metro delivery and operations to account.
The decision was prompted by West Midlands Mayor Andy Street, who visited the Midland Metro Ltd tram depot in Wednesbury on 18 November 2021, where he saw first-hand the hard work of the team tasked with bringing the trams safely back to service as soon as possible following their withdrawal on 13 November 2021.
The Mayor, who chairs the WMCA, said: “The situation with the metro is incredibly disappointing and frustrating, and so, 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 that we avoid this ever happening again. It is such an unsatisfactory situation, but I am determined to stand up for passengers and to get their questions answered and the metro back in service as soon as possible.”
Midland Metro Limited is still aiming to resume services within four weeks – the timeline issued when the trams were first removed from service on 13 November 2021.
Councillor Ian Ward, WMCA’s portfolio holder for transport and leader of Birmingham City Council, said: “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 so welcome the independent review. The passengers and businesses have been badly let down and we owe it to them investigate this fully.”