“We Should Have Gratitude to National Express”

The loss by National Express of the Midland Metro franchise is now a reality but still one of sadness for me.

National Express should be remembered for launching the line, investing into it, and delivering reliable services over the last 18years. I want to thank them as a company for having a belief in the Metro when few others had. They also shared a vision of our region that had a network of tram lines acting together with strong local bus services for the benefit of integrated transportation.

“I would say that we should have gratitude to National Express and its historic forerunner West Midlands Travel and their staff for having the faith in its future and for attracting interest Worldwide for the enviable track record it has achieved in the delivery of a reliable and good service.” 

Line One of Midland Metro was always going to have a difficult time, from its birth to its current operation. But with National Express support and the backing of Centro the tram has become a really important mover of people and it has acted in becoming a great economic generator. The Metro has never had a brighter future. It has taken far too long to move on plans for extensions. But it is happening now and for that I am very thankful to this crop of politicians that are making it happen.

For over 30 years I have preached on the great  benefits of Light Rail Transit to our City that we can extract and for the wider conurbation.

I do hope that the people of Wolverhampton will now press the case themselves and champion the needs for more tram services, if it does not want to become an “end of the Metro line City”. A place where people got off because it was the end of the line! That would be a disaster for Wolverhampton in my opinion.

With Local Authorities now taking control of the Metro tram service, and the financial risk, indeed all aspects of Metro delivery planning and operation. This is the time to push on and make bold plans.

Wolverhampton is now in a prime position to now call for new tram extensions that take it beyond the planned service extension to the City’s Rail & Bus station. Line one needs an extension at this end of our conurbation to ensure it moves forward into the future.

That is why I am saying Wolverhampton must extend its Tram network, and the top of its future extensions should be a link by tram to Wednesfield. Serving the giant New Cross hospital site which already attracts multi thousands of staff, patients and visitors, also the Retail & Leisure sites, then perhaps with it pointing towards Willenhall and Walsall – that town and its politicians may yet be able to see the opportunity that exists by using tram technology for their Borough?

Sitting back and not propagating the right Light Rail Transit policies now would be catastrophic for Wolverhampton’s future economy and would limit transportation opportunities for the CityDriving a tram Phil Bateman.

Other Black Country districts and Birmingham are already recognising the great potential that exists around transportation and the economic regeneration coupled with extending the tram ( Light Rail Transit) network.

I will certainly be dedicating myself to  speaking up for these proposals I have outlined here, at every opportunity I have in the remaining years I am still on the City Council.



Phil Bateman

Phil Bateman is Married to Mary and lives in Wednesfield North. He was a long serving local politician having served previously on the now defunct West Midlands County Council... read more