A £130 million boost to the Midland Metro will help boost Birmingham on the international map, according to transport bosses.
As part of a series of announcements linked to HS2 in the city, it was unveiled that funds would go towards taking the Metro through New Canal Street to Adderley Street – where a park-and-ride facility is planned.
Experts say the move, secured by the city in talks with HS2, will improve connectivity to Digbeth ahead of the development of Curzon Street Station.
Centro chief executive Geoff Inskip said: "This is taking Birmingham into being a true European city, that is how transformational it is.
"It is a real wow factor. What we have got in terms of taking the Metro from Snow Hill, where it was pretty much hidden, to New Street, which is all funded and under construction is big and transformational in its own right.
"But what was remarkable was, immediately when we got the funding for that, people started to ask 'Can't it get to Centenary Square, can't it get to Five Ways, can't it get to Edgbaston?'.
"So we have now got the funding for that. The real issue was that the region was linked straight into HS2.
"Getting a link from New Street and Snow Hill was imperative. We now want to ensure we get beyond Curzon Street because we want to transform the whole of the Digbeth area as well."
The work on the Metro, which is expected to complete at around 2021, will mean a direct link to HS2 on the trams from Wolverhampton and the Black Country.
The scheme was a key demand from the Birmingham City Council and Centro as it is key to expanding the city core out to Eastside.
City council leader Sir Albert Bore said: "I think it is great for Birmingham but equally great for the rest of the region.
"That little bit of Metro extension down to Curzon will mean connectivity from Wolverhampton, through Sandwell, into HS2.
"The argument all the way along has been if you can increase regional connectivity then you can increase the job prospects for the region several-fold.
"Just that extension through to Curzon is going to do wonders to link in the rest of the region."
The Post reported earlier this month that the Government's growth deal with the region, announced by the Prime Minister in Birmingham, included £59.8 million to extend the Metro to Edgbaston.
Further to that, about £40.5 million will be spent on connecting to Eastside.
Council director of planning Waheed Nazir said it was a vital part of the Big City Plan to unlock routes in and out of Digbeth.
He added: "One of my biggest qualms about HS2 was about the growth only comes to the market if you take the Metro right through New Canal Street to Adderley Street where there is a park-and-ride because that unlocks Digbeth."
Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership chair Andy Street said funding for the scheme had been signed off in the LEP investment plan because it was so vital.
He said: "For HS2 to have the maximum economic impact, we have got to connect the station into the areas around it. The fact that there is money to do that is a big thing."
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