Midland Metro rolling stock

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The Midland Metro is a passenger light rail line in the West Midlands conurbation in England, which opened in 1999. Its rolling stock consists of 21 Urbos 3 trams which came into service in 2014/15, replacing the older T-69 trams which had operated the line since 1999.

Urbos 3[edit]

Urbos 3
Midland Metro tram no. 20 on display at St. Georges, Bilston Street, Wolverhampton, geograph-4028311-by-P-L-Chadwick.jpg
Urbos 3 tram No.20 on show at Wolverhampton.
In service 2014 – Present
Manufacturer CAF
Built at Beasain, Spain
Constructed 2012 –
Number built 21
Formation 5 sections with 4 articulations.[1]
Fleet numbers 17-37
Capacity 210 (54 seats, 156 standing)[1]
Operator(s) National Express Midland Metro
Line(s) served Wolverhampton – Birmingham
Car length 33 m (108 ft 3 in)[1]
Width 2.65 m (8 ft 8 in)[1]
Height 3.4 m (11 ft 2 in)
Maximum speed 70 km/h (43 mph)[1]
Weight 56 tonnes (55 long tons; 62 short tons)
Traction system Twelve 80 kW (110 hp) traction motors
Electric system(s) 750 V DC OHLE
Current collection method Pantograph
Track gauge 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in) Standard gauge

A new fleet of 21 CAF Urbos 3 trams began to enter service in September 2014, they replaced the old T-69 fleet in 2015.[2] In February 2012 Centro named CAF the preferred bidder for a contract to supply 19 to 25 Urbos 3 trams.[3] A £40 million firm order for 20 was subsequently signed, with options for five more.[4] The first of the new trams was unveiled at the Wednesbury depot in October 2013,[5] with the first four entering service on 5 September 2014.[2]

The new fleet will provide an increased service of 10 trams per hour in each direction, with an increased capacity of 210 passengers per tram, compared with the 156 passengers on the former T69 trams. The Urbos 3 trams are 33 metres long; 9 metres longer than the former T69 stock, and have a maximum operating speed of 70 km/h (43 mph). They are low floor throughout, and consists of five sections with four articulations. Three of the modules are mounted on bogies and the other two modules are suspended.[1]

A 2.65 metres wide, The Urbos 3 trams are slightly wider than the 2.48 metre wide T69s. The line was closed for two weeks during March/April 2013, in order for the platforms on each of the stops to be narrowed by 15 centimetres to accommodate the new trams. The T69s were modified with wider steps to be compatible with the narrower platforms.[6]

In 2016, it was announced that the Urbos 3 fleet would be fitted with rechargeable batteries to allow them to operate along various extensions of the Midland Metro network intended to be constructed without overhead lines.[7]

Fleet Number Tram Name Livery Notes
17 Network West Midlands
18 Network West Midlands
19 Network West Midlands
20 Network West Midlands
21 Network West Midlands
22 Network West Midlands
23 Network West Midlands
24 Network West Midlands
25 Network West Midlands
26 Network West Midlands
27 Network West Midlands
28 Network West Midlands
29 Network West Midlands
30 Network West Midlands
31 Network West Midlands
32 Network West Midlands
33 Network West Midlands
34 Network West Midlands
35 Angus Adams Network West Midlands Named by Elizabeth II on the 19 November 2015[8]
36 Network West Midlands
37 Ozzy Osbourne Network West Midlands Named by Osbourne on 26 May 2016[9]

Former fleet[edit]


Midland Metro tram.jpg
Tram 05 in original livery at West Bromwich Central
In service 1999 – 2015
Manufacturer AnsaldoBreda
Built at Naples, Italy
Constructed 1996 – 1999
Refurbishment 2013
Number built 16
Number in service 0
Formation 2 sections per tram, articulated intersection
Fleet numbers 01–16
Capacity 156 (56 seats, 100 standing)[10]
Operator(s) National Express Midland Metro
Line(s) served Wolverhampton – Birmingham
Car body construction Aluminium
Car length 24.36 m (79 ft 11 in)[10]
Width 2.48 m (8 ft 2 in)[6]
Height 3.7 m (12 ft 2 in)
Maximum speed 43.5 mph (70 km/h)
Weight 38 tonnes (37 long tons; 42 short tons) per tram [10]
Traction system Four 105 kW (141 hp) separately-excited DC traction motors
Electric system(s) 750 V DC Overhead lines
Current collection method Pantograph
Type: Brecknell Willis High Reach
Track gauge 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in)

Sixteen T-69 trams, were the original fleet, introduced into service in 1999, These were withdrawn from service gradually during 2014-2015 as the new Urbos 3 fleet was introduced. The last T-69, No. 16 was withdrawn from service in August 2015.[11] According to Centro, since withdrawal, most of the fleet has been placed into long term storage at Long Marston, for possible re-use on future extensions.[12][13]

In February 2016 proposals were unveiled to convert the Isle of Wight Island Line into a tram line. It was reported that the remaining T-69s could be purchased second hand and re-used for this scheme.[14]

The T69s were used only on the Midland Metro, and were built by the Italian company AnsaldoBreda. Their closest "brothers" were the SL95 running in Oslo, Norway. At 24.36 metres long, the T-69s are the shortest modern tramcars in Britain. The vehicles are articulated, resting on three bogies, and have low floors over about 60% of the length. The central section of the trams is low floor, with inwards facing seating at the sides, while at each end is a raised seating area, accessible by steps. Each tram has 56 seats, with space for another 100 standing. They are accessible from three 1.25-metre wide entrances on each side, with twin plug doors.[10]

At delivery, all trams had a livery of a blue body, red fronts, grey skirt and yellow doors, but several were refurbished and repainted in Network West Midlands silver and magenta livery. From their entry into service, each tram had a roller-blind style destination board. in 2013, these were replaced with new LED Destination boards on all trams.[15]

Most trams were named after local celebrities or people of note.[16] The backgrounds of the people so honoured vary. Several of the trams have experienced notable problems, which are detailed below.

Fleet Number Tram Name Livery Notes
01 Original (blue, red, grey, yellow) In Storage
02 Original In Storage
03 Ray Lewis Original In Storage
04 Sir Frank Whittle Original In Storage
05 Sister Dora Silver and Magenta In Storage
06 Alan Garner Original In Storage
07 Billy Wright[17] Silver and Magenta In Storage
08 Joseph Chamberlain Original In Storage
09 Jeff Astle Silver and Magenta In Storage
10 John Stanley Webb Silver and Magenta In Storage
11 Theresa Stewart Birmingham Corporation In Storage
12 Original In Storage
13 Anthony Nolan Original In Storage
14 Jim Eames Original On loan to Light Rail Vehicle Test Fleet
15 Agenoria Original In Storage
16 Gerwyn John Original Retained as an engineering vehicle.

Trams 1-13 and 15 are in Storage at Long Marston

Tram 14 has been loaned to Light Rail Vehicle Test Fleet in Long Marston for testing.

Tram 16 was named after a Royal Air Force engineer who was with the RAF for 28 years, ranked as 'Chief Technician' by the time he left, and died in 2004 from cancer (at age 53). He worked for Midland Metro from 1997-2003, leaving the company and his home in Tipton to return to Llanelli when he became ill with cancer.[18] While dying, he joked about a tram being named after him.[18][19] When the trams were being named, his former colleagues nominated him as a subject and in November 2005 a plaque bearing his name was unveiled on tram 16 by his widow Christine and Midland Metro manager Dean Watkins.[18] Walsall councillor Gary Clarke, chairman of the West Midlands Passenger Transport Authority, gave a speech honouring John at the ceremony.[18] The tram is the last one of the group as of 2015. It has been retained by National Express Midland Metro as an engineering vehicle.

Maintenance vehicles[edit]

National Express Midland Metro, the operator of the tramway, acquired a number of vehicles for maintaining the line. These included a Unimog,[20] a road-rail lifting platform and one of the formerly used T69s (Tram 16).[21]


  1. ^ a b c d e f "CAF trams for Midland Metro Expansion Project". The Rail Engineer. Retrieved 19 November 2013. 
  2. ^ a b "New Midland Metro trams launched into service". Centro. 5 September 2014. Retrieved 5 September 2014. 
  3. ^ "CAF named preferred bidder to supply new Midland Metro trams". Railway Gazette International. 2 February 2012. 
  4. ^ "Work begins on £128m Midland Metro expansion project". Railway Gazette International. London. 22 March 2012. 
  5. ^ "Midland Metro unveils first CAF tram". Railway Gazette International. London. 16 October 2013. 
  6. ^ a b "Essential Engineering Works". Network West Midlands. Retrieved 19 November 2013. 
  7. ^ "Midland Metro trams to be converted for catenary-free operation". Railway Gazette. 12 February 2016. Retrieved 15 February 2016. 
  8. ^ "Royal seal of approval for Midland Metro". Centro. 19 November 2015. Retrieved 3 June 2016. 
  9. ^ "Ozzy Osbourne has Birmingham tram named after him". BBC Online. 26 May 2016. Retrieved 3 June 2016. 
  10. ^ a b c d Boynton 2001, pp. 80.
  11. ^ "End of the line for original Metro trams". Express & Star. 12 August 2015. Retrieved 5 November 2015. 
  12. ^ "Decision to order more new Midland Metro trams to be made by end of the year". Global Rail News. August 20, 2014. Retrieved 27 June 2017. 
  13. ^ "And then there was one!". British Trams Online. Retrieved 27 June 2017. 
  14. ^ "IS THE FUTURE TRAMS AND STEAM TRAINS INTO RYDE?". islandecho.co.uk. Island Echo. Retrieved 18 February 2016. 
  15. ^ "Midland Metro : Trams". The Trams.co.uk. Retrieved 19 November 2013. 
  16. ^ "Midland Metro fleet list". British Trams Online. Retrieved 19 November 2013. 
  17. ^ "Midland Metro : Trams : 07". TheTrams.co.uk. Retrieved 27 August 2010. 
  18. ^ a b c d Johnson, Steve (2005-11-12). "Tram tribute to Metro's Gerwyn". Birmingham Mail. via HighBeam Research (subscription required). Retrieved 25 April 2012. 
  19. ^ "16 'Gerwyn John'". TheTrams.co.uk. Retrieved 25 April 2012. 
  20. ^ "Ancillary vehicle at Wednesbury depot". Thetrams.co.uk. 
  21. ^ "Ancillary vehicle at Wednesbury depot". Thetrams.co.uk.