A major extension of the Midland Metro funded with a £250 million government grant is set to create 8,000 new jobs.
Dudley South MP Mike Wood hailed the announcement that the seven-mile line to Brierley Hill and Wednesbury will go ahead as “a really fantastic investment for the future”.
Prime Minister Theresa May announced that the West Midlands will be the first to benefit from a new £1.7 billion “Transforming Cities” designed to improve transport within regions across the country, as she visited the EEF Technology Hub in Birmingham.
The West Midlands Combined Authority will receive the grant and is set to use it to f und a new metro line from Wednesbury to the new “DY5 Enterprise Zone” for high-tech businesses at Brierley Hill, running through Great Bridge, Horseley Heath, Dudley Port, Dudley town centre, the Waterfront and Merry Hill, before terminating at Brierley Hill town centre.
Mr Wood (Con) said: “Independent analysis suggests it’s worth just over 8,000 permanent jobs.
“It means about 15,000 extra houses a year. Brownfield sites will become viable for housing development because of the improved transport connections.
“And it means hundreds of millions of pounds in the medium to long term for our local authorities, in terms of increased business rate and council tax revenues.
“So it’s a really fantastic investment for the future.”
Think tank the Centre for Cities also welcomed the announcement.
Chief Executive Andrew Carter said: “Poor transport links are one of the biggest factors preventing city regions like the West Midlands from growing their economies, so the Government is right to focus on addressing this issue.
“Our research shows that strengthening connections within major cities will have a significant impact in boosting productivity, growth and jobs, especially if tied in with measures to address skills gaps in these places.
“That will better connect businesses to customers and people to jobs across these city regions. It will also enable places such as the West Midlands to play a bigger role in driving growth in the national economy and tackling the UK’s sluggish productivity.”