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Birmingham New Street is Birminghammarker's main railway station located in the city centremarker. It lies on the Birmingham loop of the West Coast Main Linemarker, and is a major hub of the British railway system.

Birmingham is also served by Birmingham Moor Streetmarker and Birmingham Snow Hillmarker. Also on the outskirts closer to Solihullmarker is Birmingham Internationalmarker which serves the airport and National Exhibition Centremarker. Due to its central location, railway lines from all over Great Britainmarker run into it including lines to Londonmarker, Leedsmarker, Liverpoolmarker, Manchestermarker, Scotlandmarker, Cardiffmarker, North Walesmarker, Bournemouthmarker, Bristolmarker, Plymouthmarker, Nottinghammarker, Leicestermarker, Shrewsburymarker and Newcastle upon Tynemarker.

The station is also a terminus for many local services from throughout the West Midlands conurbationmarker, and acts as a major pass through for the cross city line, which runs between Lichfield and Redditch. Direct trains run to more stations from New Street than from any other station on the British railway network.

Over 40.1 million people use New Street station annually, of which 17.1 million use it for rail services, making it the busiest major station by footfall (visitor numbers) in the United Kingdom outside London. It is one of 17 British railway stations managed by Network Rail.

An enclosed station, with buildings over most of its span, New Street is not popular with its users with a customer satisfaction rate of only 52% - the joint lowest of any Network Rail major station. A proposal to redevelop the station in the £550m scheme named Gateway Plusmarker was given the full funding by the British Government in February 2008 and new designs were unveiled in September 2008.

The station is allocated the IATA location identifier QQN.


The first railway station

New Street Station in 1885.
New Street station was constructed as a joint station by the London and North Western Railway and the Midland Railway between 1846 and 1854 to replace several earlier unconnected rail termini, the most notable being Curzon Streetmarker. It was opened in 1851 as a temporary rail terminus of the London and Birmingham Railway. The station was constructed by Messrs. Fox, Henderson & Co. was designed by A. E. Coowper of Fox Henderson and Co.. When completed, it had the largest iron and glass roof in the world, spanning a width of and being long. It held this title for fourteen years. It was formally opened on 1 June 1854 however it had been in use for two years before this. The Queen's Hotel was opened on the same day and its telegraphic address became "Besthotel Birmingham".

Those Midland railway trains that had used Curzon Street began to use New Street from 1854. However, those south towards Bristol would have to reverse, so many continued through Camp Hillmarker. Increasing congestion meant that the Midland spent £500,000 on enlargements, which included a second train shed to the south of Great Queen Street, which became a central carriageway. Some through trains to the southwest began in 1885, with a new underpass from Derby Junction to Grand Junction, independent of the LNWR, and a new south tunnel in 1896. The new Midland Rail station opened alongside the original LNWR station on 8 February 1885. This station consisted of two trussed arches, wide by long, and wide by long. This was designed by F. Stevenson, Chief Engineers to the LNWE. By the end of 19th century, New Street had become one of the busiest railway stations in the country.

In 1923, the two companies, with others, were grouped into the London, Midland and Scottish Railway (LMS) by the Railways Act 1921.

The current railway station

The roof of the original station sustained heavy damage as a result of enemy bombing in the Birmingham Blitz of World War II. The station roof was then removed between 1948 and 1952. In 1964, the Queen's Hotel was closed and demolished whilst the power signal box was completed in the same year. The New Street Station Signal Box is a distinctly Brutalist building with corrugated concrete architecture. It was designed by Bicknell & Hamilton in collaboration with W. R. Healey, the regional architect for the British Railways London Midland Region. The four storey structure is located to the side of the tracks connected to Navigation Street. It is now a Grade II listed building.

In 1964, demolition of the original New Street station commenced and was not completed until 1966. The new New Street station was completed in 1967 by the nationalised British Railways, when the West Coast Main Linemarker was modernised and electrified. Queen's Drive was lost in the rebuilding, but the name is now carried by a new driveway which serves the car park and a tower block, and is the access route for the station's taxis. The rebuilt station was designed by Kenneth J. Davies, the lead planner for the London Midland Region at British Rail. The new station had sold its air rights, leading to the construction of the Pallasades Shopping Centremarker (known then as the Birmingham Shopping Centre) between 1968-70. Also above the station is a nine-storey office block designed by Cotton, Ballard & Blow, who also designed the Exchange Place building overlooking the ramp from New Street leading into the Pallasades Shopping Centre. An NCP car park is also located on top of the station. The station and the Pallasades are now somewhat integrated with the Bullring Shopping Centremarker via elevated walkways above Smallbrook Queensway. Alongside the station, a residential tower block named Stephenson Tower was constructed between 1965 and 1966. It was designed by the City Architect of Birmingham and is 20 storeys tall. The tower is on a long lease and administered by Birmingham City Council, with Network Rail having the freehold.

Currently, New Street handles about 80% of passengers travelling to, from or through Birmingham.

There are currently three escalators providing access to the Pallasades Shopping Centre, and two lifts providing access to a subway running underneath the platforms. The subway has lifts for access to the 'A' end of all platforms. There are escalators from the concourse down to the 'B' end of each platform (with the exception of platforms 1 and 12). All 12 main platforms (excluding platform 4c) at New Street have tracks that go straight through the station, as opposed to terminating with buffers like at many other large stations. This results in most platform changes, and access to the concourse, requiring use of the escalators, stairs, or lifts. The main platforms are also all long enough for two relatively short trains to stand at them.

New Street does not have automatic barriers that check tickets. Instead, station staff inspect tickets at peak times, while at off-peak times there is often no ticket checking. Birmingham New Street hosts a British Transport Police station. Since mid-2001, the distinctive automated announcements have been provided by voice artist Phil Sayer, and delivered by a computerised service provided by Ditra Systems.

A manual PA system, used all the time before mid-2001, is used today for announcements to staff or members of the public, or if the automated system breaks down.

In 1987, twelve different horse sculptures by Kevin Atherton, titled Iron Horse, were erected between New Street station and Wolverhampton. One stands on a platform at New Street.


New Street is frequently derided as one of the most run down and unwelcoming of all the major stations on the British railway network. Although much of this can be blamed on the sub-surface nature of the station and the 1960s architecture, that it is built below the dated Pallasades shopping arcade also contributes to New Street's perceived negative ambience. In November 2003 the station was voted the second biggest "eyesore" in the UKmarker by readers of Country Life magazine. New Street was voted joint worst station for customer satisfaction with Liverpool Lime Streetmarker and East Croydonmarker with only 52% satisfied; the national average was 60%.

A feasibility study into the redevelopment of the station site was approved on 21 January 2005. A regeneration scheme was launched in 2006. Since then, the scheme has taken various forms, and various names, such as Birmingham Gateway, Gateway Plus, and New Street Gateway. This proposed complete rebuilding of the street level buildings and refurbishment of the platforms, with track and platform level remaining essentially unchanged. A target date given for completion was 2013.

On February 12, 2008, then-Secretary of State for Transport Ruth Kelly announced that the Department for Transport will be providing £160 million on top of the £128 million that is to be provided through a government White Paper named Delivering a Sustainable Railway. A further £100 million will be provided by the Department for Business Enterprise and Regulatory Reform and will be channelled through Advantage West Midlands, the regional development agency. The announcement brought the total amount of Government spending on the project to £388 million. Following discarding of earlier sets of proposals, six architects were shortlisted to design the new station following a call for submissions and it was announced in September 2008 that the design by Foreign Office Architects had been chosen.

The fact that the Gateway development leaves the railway capacity of the station more or less unaltered has not escaped attention. In July 2008 the Commons Transport Committee criticised the plans, saying that it was not convinced that the plans were adequate for the number of trains which could end up using the station. It said if the station could not be adapted, the government needed to look for alternative solutions..

Various alternatives to the Gateway schemes have been put forward, including building a new main station on a different site, and diverting trains to Snow Hill and Moor Street stations (the latter of which would mean either restoration of Moor Street's bay platforms or reduction in services). One such scheme is Birmingham Grand Central Station, proposed by Arup.

Image:New Street station approach.jpg|The tracks at the eastern end of Birmingham New Street stationImage:Brum New St Signal Box.jpg|Birmingham New Street Signal BoxImage:New Street Station Iron Horse sculpture , Kevin Atherton.jpg|Sculpture by Kevin Atherton, Iron Horse, 1987


Virgin Trains


Some services continue towards Glasgow, Aberdeen, Guildford and Penzance.

London Midland

Arriva Trains Wales

See also

Further reading

  • A History of Birmingham, Chris Upton, 1997, ISBN 0-85033-870-0.
  • Birmingham New Street. The Story of a Great Station Including Curzon Street. 1 Background and Beginnings. The Years up to 1860. By Richard Foster. Wild Swan Publications Limited (1990) ISBN 0-906867-78-9
  • Birmingham New Street. The Story of a Great Station Including Curzon Street. 2 Expansion and Improvement. 1860 to 1923. By Richard Foster. Wild Swan Publications Limited (1990) ISBN 0-906867-79-7
  • Birmingham New Street. The Story of a Great Station Including Curzon Street. 3 LMS Days. 1923-1947 By Richard Foster. Wild Swan Publications Limited (1997) ISBN 1-874103-37-2
  • Birmingham New Street. The Story of a Great Station Including Curzon Street 4 British Railways. The First 15 Years. By Richard Foster. Wild Swan Publications Limited (Publication awaited).
  • Smith, Donald J. (1984).New Street Remembered: The story of Birmingham's New Street Station 1854-1967 In words and pictures. Birmingham: Barbryn Press Ltd. ISBN 0-906160-05-7.


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