Centro, the West Midlands transport authority, has asked Balfour Beatty to develop a ‘best and final offer’ for the project. Over the next few months Balfour Beatty will work with Centro’s project team to finalise the design and construction proposals.
Site work is scheduled to start in early 2013 and complete in 2015.
The extension will provide a fast link between Birmingham's two major rail stations and the city’s central shopping district. It is expected to carry more than 3.5 million passengers a year.
The extension is part of a wider £127m project that will see a fleet of 20 new trams for the Midland Metro system, which runs between Birmingham and Wolverhampton. The new fleet of trams, being built in Spain by CAF, will start running in 2014.
Centro chief executive Geoff Inskip said: “This is a prestigious project in the heart of Birmingham and it demands a construction partner of exactly the pedigree and calibre of Balfour Beatty. We worked with Balfour Beatty last year when they built the Metro bridge for us over Great Charles Street. That was a clear demonstration of their proven track record in delivering projects on budget and on time.”
Balfour Beatty Civil Engineering regional managing director Bill Gifford added: “We are delighted to be working with Centro to help deliver this important scheme for the city. We have built an excellent relationship with Centro which will continue and help ensure the successful delivery of this prestigious scheme.”
The extension will see trams follow a route from the existing stop at St Paul’s via a new Snow Hill stop and then along a £9m viaduct already built by developer Ballymore.
It will then go down Upper Bull Street, Corporation Street and on to Stephenson Street, stopping outside a new entrance at a rebuilt New Street Station.
Meanwhile Morgan Sindall has already begun work on a £13m extension of the Metro maintenance depot at Wednesbury and other elements of the £127m project include platform modifications on the existing line.