Following a period of driver familiarisation and testing, the five-section low-floor LRVs will enter service on the 20km line between Birmingham city centre and Wolverhampton early next year. They will replace the existing fleet of 16 AnsaldoBreda T69 trams supplied for the opening of the line in 1999, allowing frequencies to be increased and providing additional capacity for the 1.4km extension from Birmingham Snow Hill to New Street station, which is due to open in 2015.
Each Urbos vehicle accommodates around 200 passengers, compared with 156 on the T69. Centro says that the introduction of the new LRVs and operation of 10 services per hour per direction will increase capacity by 40%, easing overcrowding during peak periods.
To accommodate the enlarged fleet, Centro has invested £14m in the depot at Wednesbury with a revised track layout and a 42m-long extension of the depot building together with additional maintenance berths, four new maintenance sidings, and a separate testing and commissioning shed.