Metro tram work starts in Birmingham city centre

Computer generated image of Metro running down Corporation street The Metro line service is being extended beyond Snow Hill station to New Street station

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Work has started on a tram extension for Birmingham city centre as part of a multi-million pound project.

The Metro line is being extended by 1.4km (0.9miles) to link Snow Hill railway station with Birmingham New Street railway station from 2015.

The £128m scheme also includes a new fleet of trams and a new maintenance depot in Wednesbury.

Local Transport Minister Norman Baker approved plans, which have been part funded by the government, in February.

Mr Baker, who started the dig at the junction of Corporation Street and Bull Street, said the completed route would offer a "greener transport choice" for city centre shoppers.

Trams have been absent from the city centre since 1953.

Birmingham City Council's cabinet member for development, jobs and skills, councillor Tahir Ali, said there were many "economic advantages of rapid transit networks".

He said: "This extension will start to put that right and serve as a platform for further routes to key locations like the airport and the forthcoming high speed rail station.

"That will help Birmingham and the West Midlands compete for jobs and investment in an increasingly fierce global marketplace."

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