The Urbos tram was recently on display on the Metro platform at Snow Hill station in Birmingham and the result was a resounding thumbs-up from the public.
Paul Griffiths, Metro Programme Director for Centro said: “They praised it for its roominess, extra capacity and liked touches such as green seats indicating priority seating.
“The one constant question was ‘When are they coming into service’?, and we were happy to tell them that it will be in the summer.”
The new tram, which is one of a £40 million fleet that will eventually be 21-strong, was at Snow Hill as part of Your Public Transport Matters, a regular event where the public can meet Centro representatives and give their views on the network.
The Urbos vehicle is made by CAF of Spain and is a third bigger than the Metro’s existing trams, carrying around 210 passengers compared to 156 on the current T69 model.
This, together with a frequency of ten trams an hour, will increase overall capacity by 40 per cent, easing the overcrowding that sometimes occurs during peak times as a result of the Metro’s popularity.
The new trams are still undergoing testing, to be followed by a period of driver training, before entering service on the line between Snow Hill and Wolverhampton.
They will eventually be deployed on the Metro extension from Snow Hill to New Street now being constructed through Birmingham which, when completed in 2015, will see trams return to the city’s streets for the first time in more than 60 years.
The £128 million extension joint project by Centro, the Black Country and Birmingham City councils, is expected to create more than 1,300 new jobs and boost the regional economy by more than £50 million a year.
It is also expected to increase the number of passengers using the Metro each year from five to eight million.
Work is progressing on laying the on-street tracks for the extension which will see trams run from Snow Hill through Bull Street, Corporation Street and Stephenson Street, terminating outside New Street station, where a £600 million rebuild is also due for completion next year.