PLANS to extend the Midland Metro from Wednesbury to Brierley Hill are on track to start next year, a Dudley Council chief has confirmed.

After a wait of nearly 20 years, the eagerly anticipated multi-million pound project looks finally set to come to fruition in 2017.

Sarah Norman, chief executive of Dudley Council, said the Metro extension to Brierley Hill will be the first scheme completed as part of the region’s West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) devolution deal.

The planned extension will run for around seven miles from the existing line at Wednesbury to Great Bridge where it will head into Dudley with new Metro stops set for New Road, Cinder Bank, Pedmore Road, Canal Street, Waterfront and Merry Hill, before reaching Brierley Hill Terminus.

Councillor Khurshid Ahmed, Dudley Council’s cabinet member for planning and economic development, welcomed the news.

He said: “This exciting investment brings with it many opportunities for Brierley Hill and the surrounding areas and creates a longed for link with our neighbours in Wednesbury and beyond to Wolverhampton and Birmingham.”

Black Country LEP board member Ninder Johal said: “The formation of the West Midlands Combined Authority and the devolved funding it will bring will hopefully bring much improved infrastructure.

“The extension from Wednesbury to Brierley Hill is an example of that and also ties in with the extra investment into the Merry Hill shopping centre by intu.”

A report is due to be brought before WMCA in March, and according to board papers, chiefs will seek ‘approval to progress the early delivery works in 2017-18 and submit an outline business case to Government’.

A spokesman for Centro said: “There is still a lot more to be done before we can finalise our plans, but work on this could start as early as next year.

“The plans are still at too early a stage to unveil the full details, but we will be able to give more information closer to the start time.”