Work to build a special retaining wall in Dudley has begun, paving the way for the town’s Very Light Rail National Innovation Centre (VLRNIC) and Metro connections.
The £4.33m wall at Castle Hill, is the first physical structure as part of Dudley’s Metro connection plans. It is a key component of Dudley Council’s major regeneration project for Dudley town and will play a critical role in the VLRNIC project.
Councillor Ian Kettle, cabinet member for regeneration and enterprise, and council leader Councillor Patrick Harley on site at the VLR works
Dudley Council is working closely with the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) to contract the work, which is expected to take about eight months.
Apart from the new retaining wall, the £27.8m VLRNIC project will deliver a test track and a new national innovation centre. Test tracks for the light weight trains will run for 2km from Castle Hill to Cinder Bank via Dudley Tunnel.
Coventry City Council, will use the test track in Dudley to develop a very light rail travel solution for their city, and is supporting the costs of the retaining wall from its combined authority budget to help the work to progress.
The new national innovation centre will help lead the design and build of lightweight rail vehicles and associated components in Dudley. The centre will also include research and development laboratories as well as facilities for general manufacturing, conferences, teaching and training.
Councillor Patrick Harley, leader of Dudley Council, said:
I’m delighted that work has started on the retaining wall. This is a huge moment in Dudley’s regeneration story and demonstrates it is our time to build, connect and grow.
Working with our partners we are delivering the biggest changes our borough has ever seen and this investment brings a new metro line, shops, homes, offices, leisure centre plus much more to the people of our borough.
The delivery of the VLR and Metro programmes form part of an exciting larger £1bn regeneration programme for Dudley town centre.
Councillor Ian Kettle, cabinet member for regeneration and enterprise, said:
It is so great to see this essential piece of development work getting underway. This is a huge step forward in the Metro and Very Light Rail innovation projects.
Working together with our partners we are making our great home even better and Dudley will be at the very helm of an emerging and dynamic industry that stands to change how passenger and industry rail operates.