THE multi-million pound restoration of Dudley's historic Parkhead Viaduct is nearing completion, marking a major milestone for the second phase of the Wednesbury to Brierley Hill Metro extension.

The project, delivered by the Midland Metro Alliance on behalf of Transport for West Midlands, is significant as it is the first permanent structure delivered for the next part of the light rail scheme.

Originally constructed in the 1880s, Parkhead Viaduct was designed by renowned engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel and is regarded as a vital piece of Dudley's railway heritage.

It played a crucial role in connecting the town to the wider railway network but fell into disuse after heavy rail services were halted on the line in the middle of the last century.

As well as preserving the viaduct's historic character, the works that have been going on have strengthened it from within - mitigating any requirement to change the much-loved structure’s external appearance.

By employing cutting-edge techniques, designers and construction professionals at the Midland Metro Alliance (MMA) have ensured the structure can seamlessly integrate with the modern demands of a tram system, guaranteeing its use for generations to come.

Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands, said: "The Parkhead Viaduct restoration is a fantastic example of how vital infrastructure projects can go hand-in-hand with preserving our heritage. This restored viaduct will not only serve as a crucial transport link but will also stand as a testament to Dudley's rich industrial past. I'm thrilled to see it become visible to the public once more, offering a fantastic local landmark to once-again for residents and visitors alike."

The final scaffolding on the viaduct is due to be removed in the coming days.

Cllr Patrick Harley, leader of Dudley Council, added: "Thanks to the expertise of the delivery team, this work has ensured this important piece of Dudley's history is preserved for future generations. It's fantastic that local people will be able to enjoy seeing this landmark once more, now that the works are coming to an end. The completion of this phase is another key step towards the Metro coming to Brierley Hill.”

The viaduct will be fully revealed to the public in the coming weeks.

Tom Maplethorpe, project director for the Wednesbury to Brierley Hill Metro extension at the MMA, said: “We're incredibly proud to have played a part in restoring an iconic local landmark. Whilst our works aim to improve and modernise the region’s transport infrastructure, we always look for opportunities to preserve and honour the region’s considerable industrial history.”

The Parkhead Viaduct restoration is one of several developments commissioned as part of the Wednesbury to Brierley Hill Metro extension project.

The final replacement structure for the first phase of the scheme to Dudley will be installed on Birmingham New Road over a number of weekends in June.

When complete, the Wednesbury to Brierley Hill Metro extension will link up existing heavy and light rail networks, helping to connect people to education, training and career opportunities further afield in the West Midlands.

When the first phase of the 11km tramway route opens to the public, an additional nine stops will be added to the West Midlands Metro network linking people in Dudley town centre to Birmingham and Wolverhampton.