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Digicam report (3): Midland Metro
Page first written 26 September 2002
Last updated 26 September 2002

"Midland Metro"

Digital Camera Report from Birmingham No. 3


There are many words in English to express "urban railways that go under the ground". According to the dictionaries, it is "underground" in the UK. However, London Underground is more frequently called the Tube. In Glasgow there is a system called "Glasgow Subway". And there are many books entitled something like "Metros around the World". And, because Midland Metro Line 1 opened in May 1999, now there is no "underground" but a "Metro" here in Birmingham...

Birmingham has a population of around a million; the West Midlands County, which includes Birmingham as part of it, has 2.55 million (3000 per square kilometre). Being such a large conurbation, the urban railway network is well developed. However, some part of the network was the section that had been closed in the past and re-opened fairly recently. One example is Snow Hill Tunnel (between Birmingham Snow Hill and Birmingham Moor Street), closed in 1968 and re-opened in 1987. The line that extends from Snow Hill to Jewellery Quarter, The Hawthorns and Smethwick Galton Bridge was re-opened in 1995. Most of the 20.4km-long line of Midland Metro was also laid on the old trackbed abondoned years ago. It was constructed by Great Western Railway and was a line that run from London Paddington through Oxford, Birmingham, Wolverhampton and then went further to Chester and other cities.

The Metro starts Snow Hill and runs comfortably on the exclusive right-of-way. Being laid on the old trackbed of the main line railway, there are some halts without proper route for wheelchair users. The tracks in and around the halts are paved so that passengers can walk around freely wherever they like. So this "metro" is a suburban railway in all but name -- so that the operators need not provide any safety facilities like footbridges. Being a responsible person, I must admit that it is rather comfortable, though...

Midland Metro Car No. 05
(Photo 1): Midland Metro tramcar no. 05, dwelling on the terminal of Wolverhampton St. George's. The car was manufactured by Ansaldo (Adtranz), and has the length of 24.36m and the width of 2.6m. (Photo taken: 9 September 2001.)
Midland Metro running over the Wishbone Bridge in Wolverhampton
(Photo-2): Midland Metro tramcar running over the Wishbone Bridge near Wolverhampton St. George's terminus. (Photo taken: 9 September 2001)
Priestfield Halt, Midland Metro
(Photo-3): Priestfield Halt of Midland Metro, two stops from Wolverhampton St. George's terminus, built on the exclusive right-of-way section. The halts are all paved as shown in this photograph, and passengers can virtually walk freely around. However, regrettably, the equipments are already seen broken because of vandalisms. (Photo taken: 9 September 2001)


  1. http://www.thetube.com/ (London Underground)
  2. http://www.spt.co.uk/ (SPT: Glasgow Subway)
  3. http://www.metropla.net/ (Metro Planet)
  4. http://www.centro.org.uk/ (Centro)
  5. Boynton, J., "Main Line to Metro", Mid England Books (2001)

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