West Midlands Metro trams suspended for ‘a number of weeks’ as cracked panels are replaced

There will be no West Midlands Metro tram service for several weeks

It comes after cracks were found on the trams last weekend, rendering the service out of action for the third time in nine months.

A spokesperson for Midland Metro Limited said: “Detailed inspections of bodywork cracks have been undertaken on our older trams and repairs are required across the fleet.

“Midland Metro Limited (MML) is requiring the manufacturer to replace the panels rather than repair the existing panels to ensure the future reliability and robustness of the service.

“Unfortunately, this means the service will be suspended for a number of weeks.

“We are working with the manufacturer, CAF, to carry out these replacements as soon as possible.

“However, we feel the West Midlands needs a tram service it can rely on which is why we have decided to suspend the service so more extensive replacements can be carried out by the manufacturer.

“At the same time, the testing and commissioning of our new trams, which are unaffected by the bodywork defect, continues and this will help to bolster fleet availability in the future.”

The tram service has been plagued with faults over the last nine months, having been suspended for four days in June 2021 when cracks were identified on the trams, before a reduced service resumed.

The clock is ticking on the repairs as the region prepares to host the 2022 Commonwealth Games.

Councilor Waseem Zaffar from Birmingham City Council said: “It would be a major embarrassment for the West Midlands if the Metro were to be out of action during the Commonwealth Games.

“We need to be certain that this suspension will be the last, and that it will be resolved in time.”

The Mayor said: “I know this is deeply frustrating for passengers who are relying on it and I’m sorry, I know it is an unacceptable position.

“I’m ultimately responsible, but I am holding those who are responsible for this to account.

“I have spoken directly to the CEO of the manufacturer to impress upon them the need for reliable service and to get this repair done once and for all to be sure we’ve got a safe service that everyone can rely on.”

While the service is out of operation, metro tickets and passes will be accepted on alternative modes of transport until Sunday April 3, after which time metro tickets will no longer be accepted.

A spokesperson for Midland Metro Limited added: “We are currently processing refunds for Metro tickets and passes for customers that have been affected by the suspension of services.

“Metro tickets and passes will continue to be accepted on a variety of National Express bus services and on all train services between Wolverhampton and Birmingham until Sunday April 3 when ticket acceptance will end.

“Once again, we are sincerely sorry for the inconvenience caused by this latest suspension and understand the impact it will have on our customers’ daily lives. The entire Metro team shares the understandable frustration and disappointment felt by its customers at this latest service suspension, and it is doing all it can to ensure the panel replacements are carried out as quickly as possible by the manufacturer. “

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