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New lease of life for iconic Metro tram Friday April 19, 2024

A former West Midlands Metro tram has been given a new lease of life after its donation to the Black Country Innovative Manufacturing Organisation (BCIMO) by UKTram.

The AnsaldoBreda T-69 Class tram – known by its Metro designation of ‘Tram 16’ – is now part of the BCIMO’s innovative Clean Futures Accelerator programme.

In the long term, the organisation will work with its industry partners to identify the challenges they face and how this unique test platform can help with research and development in a range of areas, such as connectivity, automation and propulsion; alongside testing in a safe, repeatable and representative environment.

James Hammett, Managing Director of UK Tram, commented: “As the trade body for light rail, we’re delighted to see Tram 16 transforming into a test vehicle for tram innovation, and the fantastic way it has been given a new lease of life.

This collaboration ticks more boxes than we could have envisaged, for the Clean Futures programme, the BCIMO’s goals, and our vision for the wider light rail sector.

“We’re also looking forward to continuing our support for the BCIMO and its light rail innovation activity while playing a key part in the Clean Futures programme moving forward.”

Tram 16 was part of the Metro fleet introduced in May 1999 – bringing trams back to the West Midlands for the first time since 1953. It bowed out of service with the final journey by a T-69 class on Friday, August 14, 2015, as the original trams were replaced by the CAF Urbos 3 trams that still operate the West Midlands Metro service today.

After their withdrawal, all 16 trams were transferred to the Long Marston Rail Innovation Centre, operated by Porterbrook since June 2021, and most were dismantled. Tram 16, however, was purchased by UK Tram for use as a test vehicle to help drive innovation amongst its members and in the sector.

The launch of the Clean Futures programme provided the ideal opportunity for this vision to become a reality, and so in 2023, UK Tram donated Tram 16 to BCIMO.

To ensure Tram 16 could play its part, not just in the history of the Black Country, but in its future, and at the heart of sustainable transport innovation, significant work to refresh the vehicle has been needed, encompassing two specific phases, and you can read more on the BCIMO website here. Tram 16 is pictured here prior to the renovation.