The Midland Metro extension is a major infrastructure project in the heart of Birmingham city centre. The first stage, which links Snow Hill station to New Street station, is currently being built. The project is expected to deliver £50m per annum to the region’s economy and create 1,500 jobs. In my work at the consultancy company Mott MacDonald over the summer, I was focused on the next stages of design: the extension to Centenary Square and Birmingham Eastside. The project aims to bring fast and easy transport around Birmingham city centre and to key locations including the new HS2 terminal. Although the project is mainly focused on the technical design of the tram tracks, there has also been an overall look at regeneration, including new pavements, pedestrian routes and landscaping.
The key to the project is stakeholder engagement and logistics. It is difficult to execute such a large and detailed project in such a busy area where key transport and pedestrian routes have to be maintained. There has also been a huge amount of outreach to local businesses and other residents, with public consultations allowing people to have their say on such issues as route options. Although I helped produce some drawings for the consultation, my focus was on the technical design of the tram tracks and how they can best fit into the existing road layouts. What was most interesting is the ways you can limit the impact of the trams and ensure user satisfaction. There are many ways that the user’s experience could be influenced, including the location of the tram stops, pedestrian crossings and by creating tram only lanes to ensure reliable journey times. As well as considering these variables I also looked at the detailed design of the tracks themselves, designing them in both the horizontal and vertical planes relative to topographical surveys.