A new Metro extension through the Black Country will help to double the region’s economic output and create nearly 35,000 jobs, according to an independent study.
West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) are set to sign off on the £449m Brierley Hill to Wednesbury extension on Monday, with the line due to open in 2023.
A new report has hailed the economic benefits of the route, claiming: “The extension of the Metro through Wednesbury to Brierley Hill provides a game-changing opportunity for the economic, social and environmental regeneration of the area.”
It came as it emerged that the WMCA could take out loans of up to £139.1 to cover the line’s spiralling costs, which were set at more than £100m lower last year.
Bosses are confident the extra cost will be covered by profits from the Metro, which the authority has operated since last June.
The extension runs through Dudley town centre and is set to have stops at attractions including Dudley Zoo and the Black Country Living Museum.
The study, by independent consultants, Lichfield, examined the potential economic benefits of building the extension as opposed to not having it.
It said it could unlock a 250 per cent increase in the annual delivery of new homes, up from 570 a year to 2,000, and could see jobs go up by nearly 30 per cent over the next 25 years, from 26,070 to 34,560.
The region’s economic output is predicted to almost double over the same period to £28.6bn, while business rates and council tax receipts could rise by 160 per cent and 46 per cent, according to the study.
The report also says that public transport times will be slashed by 50 per cent, “significantly” improving the job prospects of people in Dudley and Sandwell.
It adds: “The location of Metro stations has the potential to facilitate growth and regeneration, including being the focus of higher density development, as well as enhancing connectivity with other public transport modes.”
The report to the combined authority’s investment board shows £310m of funding is already in place for the line, including £207m from the Government and £103m from the WMCA.
However, it says “prudential borrowing” of £139.1 could be required to complete the scheme.
The project was initially budgeted at £343m, but bosses say that figure omitted £59m of “optimism bias”, after detailed investigation works along the route revealed that significantly more remedial work was necessary than originally thought.