Final countdown to Birmingham New Street station’s big unveil

By on 18/09/2015 in Leader, News

Final countdown to Birmingham New Street station’s big unveil

Network Rail today (18 September) entered the final countdown to opening Birmingham New Street station after a five-year, £750m transformation.

Boasting an iconic new atrium over a huge passenger concourse – five times the size of London Euston’s – the station, which opens its doors to the public this Sunday (20 September), has been rebuilt while trains continued to run as normal for the 170,000 passengers a day who use it.

With brighter, de-cluttered platforms, improved entrances, a range of new facilities and an abundance of natural light over the new concourse, Birmingham New Street, one of Britain’s busiest inter-change stations, is also a retail destination in its own right.

The new station will feature 43 shops at concourse level and above it sits the new Grand Central shopping complex, including one of the UK’s largest John Lewis department stores.

The 450,000 sq ft shopping destination, which will open its doors on Thursday 24 September, will create more than 1,000 jobs and is expected to attract more than 50 million visitors a year.

Ahead of the opening this weekend Mark Carne, chief executive of Network Rail, was joined today by guests including Patrick McLoughlin MP, secretary of state for transport, and Sir Albert Bore, leader of Birmingham City Council, for a final look at the near-completed station before it opens its doors to the public.

Sir Albert Bore, leader of Birmingham City Council, said: “Birmingham New Street station has undergone a magnificent transformation to become a vibrant, spacious and bright transport hub suitable for our city, and for the people of Birmingham to be proud of. The station redevelopment has been a key project for the city, stimulating economic growth and regeneration and, with the added creation of Grand Central; it has provided one of the best-connected retail spaces in the country. This is sure to have a catalytic effect on further regeneration of the city centre and attracting businesses to Birmingham.

“The development has also provided a gateway to opportunities for many Birmingham people, with over 3,000 construction jobs created, including over 115 apprenticeships. In Birmingham New Street and Grand Central we now have a bright, modern 21st century focal point for the city that will deliver integrated transport with premier retail that the citizens of Birmingham can be proud of. This is an exciting time and shows that Birmingham has a lot to look forward to.”

Chancellor George Osborne said: “This £750 million investment to modernise Birmingham New Street station is at the heart of our plans to use the power of infrastructure to build a more healthy, balanced and productive economy right across the Midlands.

“We are committed to build the Midlands engine, set to boost growth by attracting local jobs and investment, and today’s announcement shows we are delivering on our long-term economic plan for the region.”

Patrick McLoughlin, secretary of state for transport, said: “The transformation of Birmingham New Street is a prime example of how our record investment in the railways is improving journeys for hardworking people and helping to rebalance the economy by driving growth across the country.

“The improvements made at this important transport hub have made it into a truly impressive building that passengers and the people of Birmingham can use and enjoy.”

Mark Carne, chief executive of Network Rail, said: “Birmingham New Street sits right at the heart of our rail network and the transformation which has taken place here is nothing short of stunning. The station is now bigger, brighter and better able to meet the needs of the growing number of people who use it each day.

“As Britain’s second city, Birmingham deserves a station of this calibre and, along with Grand Central, the investment we have made will help support the local economy and regenerate large parts of city centre.

“Rebuilding one of the busiest stations in the country without impacting on passengers’ journeys has been a major challenge, but I’m extremely proud to say that Network Rail and our partners on this project have done just that. That’s a significant achievement for everyone who has helped build this fantastic new station of which they, and all of Birmingham, can be very proud indeed.”

Andy Street, managing director of John Lewis and chairman of the Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “The completion of New Street and the opening of Grand Central, including the new John Lewis couldn’t come at a better time for Birmingham with employment, GDP, foreign investment, exports and visitor numbers all on the up in the area.

“One of the negatives of the previous station – aside from the appalling first impression it gave to millions of visitors to our city, was that New Street effectively divided the city centre.

“The area known as Southside was not accessible from the busy main shopping and business areas, unless you were prepared to go around the station, but the new design changes all that with the main entrance actually opening onto Southside, this part of the city is now easily accessible and you can already see the benefits as investment is starting to flow to it.

“When the station and Grand Central are complete, people’s perceptions and experience of the city will be transformed, while the wider project will be an economic force not just for the site but for Birmingham and the West Midlands as a whole.”

Paul Faulkner, chief executive of Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce, said: “The transformation of Birmingham New Street station will mark a sea-change for everyone who uses this important gateway to Birmingham. First impressions are important and the new-look station will greatly enhance the experience for business people, commuters, shoppers and tourists who arrive in the city in their thousands every day.”

Richard Brown, Grand Central development director, said: “The transformation of Birmingham New Street station is incredible and will be well worth the wait for passengers and commuters. Following the reveal of the station on Sunday, we are excited to be opening the doors of Grand Central on Thursday 24 September. Being situated above the magnificent station will offer a unique and unforgettable shopping experience for all. We are proud that Birmingham is at forefront of such an impressive aesthetic design which will be enjoyed and admired by people across the UK and worldwide.”

Pedestrians will also find things easier, too. The station’s new layout will reconnect the north and south side of Birmingham for the first time since the arrival of the railway in the 19th century.

The new station development is already proving a catalyst for further schemes to regenerate the area surrounding the station and having a positive impact.

Martin Guest, managing director of the Birmingham office of global property consultants CBRE, said: “The level of investment activity in Birmingham this year is unprecedented. We fully expect £1billion of commercial property to change hands by the end of 2015, a level never before seen in the city. This follows on from major institutions including Deutsche Bank, HS2 and HSBC committing to offices here, creating thousands of new jobs in the bargain.

“We know from our own conversations with both investors and office occupiers that the infrastructure improvements, and in particular the investment in New Street station, have played a part in their decision making. Once the wraps are off the station, this flagship asset will further cement Birmingham’s place on investor shopping lists.”

John Bryson, director of City-REDI and professor of enterprise and competitiveness at the University of Birmingham, said: “The transformed Birmingham New Street brings new jobs to Birmingham through the development of the Grand Central shopping complex. John Lewis is a welcome addition to Birmingham’s retail mix and will attract other activities and people to the city.

“A great city is an attractive and connected city. The ‘new’ New Street will enhance local connectivity and productivity but also contributes to the reshaping of the narrative that supports Birmingham’s economy. The new station is an iconic building that will contribute to the on-going relocation of economic activity to the city and the development of local businesses. This has been a complex and long project and all involved should be congratulated.”

For further information on Birmingham New Street station visit


Notes to editors:

Facts and figures:
•    170,000 passengers a day use Birmingham New Street, nearly triple the 60,000 a day it was designed for when it was last rebuilt in the 1960s. The new station can now handle 300,000 a day.

•    Birmingham New Street is the busiest station outside London, and the busiest interchange station in the UK with a train leaving the station every 37 seconds.

•    A football pitch – the size of the new atrium which will flood the station concourse with natural light.

•    36 new escalators will make it a lot easier to travel between the concourse and the platforms below. The existing station has five escalators.

•    15 new public lifts will make the station fully accessible for the first time, there are currently only two lifts which link the concourse and platforms directly, meaning many of our most vulnerable passengers have to negotiate a subway to reach specific platforms.

Birmingham New Street in numbers:

4                      train operating companies run through the station
5                      times more space at concourse level
5                      times the size of London Euston’s concourse
7                      days a week working on site, 24 hours a day
12                     platforms will be refurbished
13                     Centre Courts at Wimbledon – size of the entire new passenger concourse
15                     new lifts, serving every platform
36                     escalators, serving every platform
37                     a train arrives or departs Birmingham New Street every 37 seconds
50                     lifestyle and premium fashion brands in Grand Central
60                     pupils from local primary school toured station
60                     % rain water harvested from the façade used to flush all the toilets in the station
85                     % of non-hazardous waste material from the whole project to be recycled /re-used as a minimum
1,000                jobs created through John Lewis and Grand Central
1,200                workers on average on site increasing to 3,500 at the end
1854                 original station first opened
1967                 redeveloped station opened
2009                 work began on the new station
2015                 overall project completion
3,300                square metres of new atrium, the size of a football pitch
5,000                tonnes of concrete removed from the old NCP car park to create the first half of the new concourse
7,000                tonnes of concrete removed from Stephenson Tower
10,000              lorry journeys saved off Birmingham’s roads throughout the project by using trains to transport waste material
20,000              tonnes of concrete removed to create the space for the atrium
170,000             passengers use the station daily
300,000             passenger-per-day capacity of the new Birmingham New Street station
200,000             sq ft of retail space in Grand Central
250,000             sq ft of space in John Lewis

BNS construction facts & figures:

•    1,000 workers on site, 24 hours a day, seven days a week – increasing to 3,500 in the final months of the project.

•    We’ve had to remove tens of thousands of tonnes of concrete and other material to create the space for the new station. We’re recycling 98% of all material removed:

–           7,500 tonnes from the old car park to create the space for the atrium
–           20,000 tonnes from Stephenson Tower, an old 22-storey tower block
–           20,000 tonnes from the centre of the Pallasades shopping centre to create the space for the new atrium.
•    The façade was installed by Martifer, a specialist stainless steel construction contractor.

•    About 20,000 sq metres or 1,100 tonnes of steel will make up the façade. (800 tonnes of supporting steelwork and 300 tonnes façade).

•    Around 8,000 stainless steel panels supported by more than half a million fixing structures. Every panel is unique, in order to adjust to the peculiar geometry of the building.

Retail construction:

•    250,000 sq ft: the size of the new John Lewis department store, the biggest outside London
•    200,000 sq ft: of premium retail space in the new Grand Central
•    15 new concept cafes and restaurants in the Grand Central shopping complex.

To build the new John Lewis shop:
•    6,800 cubic metres of concrete (the equivalent volume of three Olympic swimming pools).
•    2,900 tonnes of structural steel (the equivalent weight of over six Pendolino trains)
•    4,800 square metres of glazing.

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