First phase of Birmingham bus rapid transit corridor completed

The first phase of the Sprint bus rapid transit network has been completed in Birmingham.

Construction of the first phase of the Sprint bus rapid transit network has been completed in Birmingham.

This first £88m phase connects Walsall with Birmingham city centre and Birmingham Airport - joining the A34 with the A45 to create one continuous route.

The second phase is expected to follow next year to complete the continuous bus priority between Walsall and the airport and extend the route to Solihull.

The route will also enable Birmingham and West Midlands to further benefit from HS2, helping to spread the benefits by linking Walsall and Solihull and the intermediate communities directly with the new HS2 Curzon Street and Interchange stations.  

Sprint is designed to support the region's economic growth and expanding population, and will actively combat congestion by offering reliable, connected and sustainable public transport. 

Extended bus lanes, purpose-built shelters and priority signalling at busy junctions, will ensure quicker and more reliable journey times for passengers.

The bus rapid transit project has been developed and delivered by Transport for West Midlands (TfWM), part of the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA), in partnership with local councils. The scheme has been funded by the Department for Transport.

Anne Shaw, executive director for TfWM, said: “With dedicated bus lanes and priority at key junctions Sprint will ensure our bus services are more reliable and more attractive to the travelling public from day one. 

“With phase two and the introduction of the region’s first cross-city bus service to follow we will see even more benefit for passengers – a high quality service to encourage more people to swap the car and traffic congestion for a reliable high-quality bus service.

“Sprint is also a key part of our wider green transport revolution which is delivering new bus, rail, Metro and cycle schemes to support our economy and decarbonise our transport network.”

The construction stage of phase one has included road widening, bus lane installation and bus priority junctions along the A45 between Swan Island and Birmingham City Centre and along the A34 between Perry Barr and the Scott Arms junction. 

Plus 76 larger shelters have been installed designed to improve both the comfort and safety of bus users with CCTV and real time information at all stops. 

Infrastructure consultancy AECOM, procured through the Midlands Highway Alliance framework, drove the project from its Birmingham Colmore Circus office, delivering the concept design and outline business case for the scheme, ahead of supporting Transport for the West Midlands on the full business case. 

AECOM’s local engineers then co-located with the client and contractor, in a collaborative environment, to develop the detailed design for the scheme once it had received the green light. 

“Good transport schemes take people from A to B, but great transport schemes such as Sprint bring opportunity, investment and connectivity – improving life for the communities they serve,” said AECOM regional director Sarah Guest. “Birmingham has such an exciting future and our team is proud to support the delivery of part of the vision for a net-zero, fast and reliable public transport system for the city.”

The main civils contractor along the A45 has been Morgan Sindall Infrastructure with three further civils contractors - McPhilips, Fitzeralds and Colas – completing works on the A34. 

The Sprint phase one construction was commended in the Environmental and Sustainability category of the Chartered Institution of Highways and Transportation (CIHT) Awards last month.

National Express West Midlands will be running Sprint services along the corridor once phase two has been completed in 2024. This will see the introduction of a fleet of zero-emission articulated vehicles to further improve journey times and comfort for passengers. 

It is expected that more than four million trips a year on the Sprint service once the second phase is complete, with more than 20 million other bus journeys a year benefitting from improved reliability. 

On the A45 bus journey times are expected to be cut by up to 20% - more than 10 minutes.

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