Birmingham is still some way from getting part of its long-awaited city centre metro extension, but a government invitation to submit an application for funding should be welcomed.
It is clear that a certain amount of brinkmanship has taken place in recent years, as the transport authority fought with Ministers to gain approval for a much larger scheme – taking the metro from Snow Hill to Five Ways.
When it became clear that the government would not be prepared to sanction such an expensive project, and that the business case was sorely lacking, the city council switched tack to propose a shortened route taking trams from Snow Hill to New Street Station.
It is this truncated route, at a cost of £55 million, that the government has said it is prepared to consider and, perhaps, fund to the tune of £25 million.
It is now up to the council and passenger transport authority Centro to demonstrate that this relatively short route can deliver the cost-benefit ratio required to qualify for government financial investment.
There will also be a need to bridge a £30 million funding gap by persuading private investors to back the metro with hard cash.
The political and strategic importance of the metro extension is not in doubt.
This could be the start of a far more comprehensive network, eventually taking trams from the city centre to Birmingham Airport and the NEC. But only if all interested parties mount the kind of united campaign that succeeded in winning approval for the New Street Station redevelopment.
Sitting back and hoping for the best will not deliver the metro for Birmingham.